button codes

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.

Pro tip: Skipping levels in Alien 3

Okay, so you have a copy of Alien 3 that you're trying to work your way through, but you're having trouble with one stage or another.

So you pause the game for a breather

And then you press

Left, Right, Up, Down, Left, Right, A, B, A, B

Suddenly you find that the stage ends and the next one begins!

Which works for any stage (just don't skip the last boss, it kind of makes the game crash), which makes it a great way to preview later stages or to continue where you left off if you have a power failure or something.

Pro tip: Seeing who's behind R.B.I. Baseball 2

You might remember some months ago I wrote a bit about seeing the credits to R.B.I. Baseball, but it turns out that this same button combination works for the second game in the series, too.

Just go to the title screen

Hold A + B and press Start, and behold!

More people who made baseball games for your NES!

How fun!

Pro tip: Viewing a secret message in Magic Darts

I never got a lot of mileage out of Magic Darts, mostly because I don't really know the rules to darts and don't have the inclination to learn.

But if you have a copy of Magic Darts you could to to the title screen.

Then grab Controller 1 and hold down the A + B buttons (and keep holding them until I tell you to stop) and then press Start to go to the Select Game screen

Then start holding down the Select button in addition to the A + B buttons that you're still holding. Then... wait. A minute or so later you'll see a secret message!

I don't know who K1 Nakanishi is, but I do know a game that he or she worked on, and that might get me a wedge in Trivial Pursuit one day.

Also, you can let go of the A + B buttons now.

Pro tip: Checking out the Debug Menu in Castle of Dragon

If you're unlucky enough to actually have a copy of Castle of Dragon for some reason, I've got something here that will make it a little bit more interesting.

First, go to the title screen (that's the easy part)

Then, grab Controller 1 and press

A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left, A, A, Left, Left

Which is kind of hard to remember. So just keep pressing "A, A, Left, Left" over and over again until the screen changes

Which lets you do all kinds of stuff like: listen to all the songs in the game, listen to all the sound effects, and view all the enemies in the game!

Okay, yeah, this isn't all that great. But it's way better than the actual game, so there is that.

Pro tip: Ending a round of Dr. Mario whenever you want

So let's say you're playing a round of Dr. Mario and you screw up your puzzle

Possibly even worse than I've done so here. What do you do?

Well, you could just keep hitting Down on the Cross Pad to fill up the center columns with capsules and end your game, but that's way too slow.

Even better would be to hold A + B + Select + Start. Done right, you'll be kicked back to the title screen!

This is way better than just walking up to your NES and hitting the reset button, mostly because you don't have to actually get up walk the up to 6 feet to wherever your NES is.

Pro tip: Starting on whatever level you want in Alien Syndrome

Fire up your copy of Alien Syndrome and go to the title screen to discover

That you have an NES game with SEGA listed as a credit!

But that's not why we're here.

If you grab Controller 2 and hold Right on the Cross Pad, while simultaneously holding Down on Controller 1's Cross Pad, and then hit Start on Controller 1 while holding those down, you'll be greeted with this

Which means that you can start on any stage you want, even fighting the last boss!

Good luck!

You'll need it!

Pro tip: Playing "Hyper Tennis" in Super Spy Hunter

Play enough Super Spy Hunter (which, the first few times you play, will be about three minutes) and you'll be greeted with this

And after that, you have the option of prolonging your pain or just ending it outright

But you might notice that if you hit the 'A' Button, the little gun turrets on the screen begin to move positions. Move them so that they're in the 'down' position before hitting hitting Start and you'll be in for a surprise

You're challenging the computer (or a friend of your choice) to a game of Hyper Tennis! What's Hyper Tennis?

Well, it's kind of like Pong. You know all about Pong, right?

Even better, if you beat the computer, you win 20 lives for your continue, but if you lose, you get zero. Is it worth it?

Heck, I dunno, man.

Pro tip: Free powerups in Abadox

Okay, so maybe cruising through Abadox while completely invincible is a bit on the easy side. Maybe you want a little bit more of a challenge... but not a whole lot. Okay, we can do that.

First, go to the "PRESS START" screen

Then grab Controller 1 and press Up, Down, Right, Right, Up, Left, Right, Down, Left, Up

Then start your game. Everything will look pretty much normal... until you pause the game and then unpause again.

If you did the code right, when the action starts again, you'll be loaded to the teeth!

And you can do this as many times as you want, which is especially helpful if you accidentally pick up a gun that you don't want.

But you're still very destructible, which adds just enough challenge to keep the game interesting for a while.

Pro tip: Ending a Metroid play session whenever you want

So let's say that you're playing a round of Metroid and you have to abruptly end your session for some reason. Maybe it's time to eat dinner, maybe your appendix ruptured, whatever.

But instead of finding an enemy to clumsily bump into repeatedly or taking an excruciatingly slow bath in a Lava Pit(tm), you could just pause the game (trust me, it's paused in this picture)

Then grab Controller 2 and press Up on the Control Pad + A

Done right, your game will end suddenly and you'll be taken to the password screen

Where you can jot down your password to continue on another day.

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