Pro tip: Seeing a hidden message in Gradius

Gradius has a reputation for being pretty tough, mostly because it is. But if you do take a crack at it, you can view a secret message before you go to get your head handed to you.

First, either turn off your NES or go to any screen you want.

Then, on controller 1, hold the A + B buttons and either power on or reset your NES. Done right, you'll see this message.

And if that doesn't motivate you to do better, I'm not sure what will.

Playing games with your spreadsheet program: Part 2

I'll concede that a lot of you probably don't actually have installed on your computers. You're probably sticking with an old version of Microsoft Office that came with your computer 10 years ago. And if you are, then I have a treat for you!

Open your copy of Excel '97, and on a new spreadsheet and hit the F5 button to bring up the "Go To" dialog box

And go to cell X97:L97

From there, hit Tab, then hold the left CTRL+Shift and hit the Chart Wizard button. Done right, you should be transported to a lovely purple and black landscape

Where you can use the mouse to fly around. There is a conveyor out there somewhere that shows credits on it, but my computer was way too fast to get a decent screen shot of it, so you're just going to have to take my word for it.

Pro tip: customizing Lolo 2's controls

In the Adventure of Lolo games, the controls are pretty simple: Press A to use your magic shot, and press B to use your PW item.

But in the second game, if you go to the password screen and enter the password "CSTM"

Which kind of looks like the word "CuSToM", you get whisked away to a config screen

Where you can customize the controls to your heart's content.

Not that there's a lot of customization to do.

Pro tip: Alternate uses for a ketchup jellybean

In A Boy and his Blob you take control of a guy with a pet blob.


He has to use the blob to do pretty much anything, and he does that by giving the blob (Blobert) jellybeans. Each flavor jellybean will make the blob turn into something different and occasionally useful. Except the ketchup flavor. I'm not even sure where you'd get ketchup flavor jellybeans, Jelly Belly doesn't make them. Though I can't imagine they'd be any worse than those Buttered Popcorn beans.

But, I've gone off on a secant.

Anyway, the ketchup bean is used if you lose your blob somehow and he can't get back to you. Throw the bean and he'll 'catch up' to where you are.

Very clever.

But, if you throw a honey flavor bean at your blob and before he finishes transforming throw a ketchup bean at him, he'll turn into a brick wall.

What does the wall do? Does it block enemy projectile chocolate kisses? Does it hold up a slowly closing door while you race to the other side to hit some control switch? Does it just look cool?

Unfortunately, the answer to all those questions is 'no'. The wall doesn't do anything other than waste a couple of jellybeans. But the masonry looks kind of nice, so it's got that going for it.

Pro tip: Uncollectable money bag in Castlevania

The original Castlevania game had lots of hidden bags of treasure that would only appear if you squatted down on a certain block or stood still in a certain place for long enough. However, there's one treasure sack that can't be collected by any means. Why's it there? No idea.

First, make your way to what the game calls 'Stage 9', but what is actually the end boss of the third area. Find this block:

Now, just press Left for a few seconds and viola! A money bag that pops up in a completely inaccessible location.

Ultimately, this is kind of pointless, but you might be able to use it to win a bet or something.

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