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Monday, December 30, 2019

If You're Cheating, Does That Count As Beating?

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Talking about videogames, not about spouses.

Two nights ago on the KoopaTV Requests Page (which anyone can use to get me to write about a specific topic) I was asked by ShinyGirafarig...
“Is there a wrong way to play and/or beat games? Does it matter if it is an outside cheat device, ingame cheat codes, or a feature officially added years later by the developers themselves such as the Rewind feature?” 
She was inspired by this tweet by some guy named Mike Matei, who is apparently a videogame streamer who must be enjoying a lot of publicity right now, especially since I've been aware of the tweet BEFORE the request:
Mr. Matei's site has a list of games he's beaten on stream, and some of those are rather... difficult. Clearly, he takes pride in beating games.

I think I'm pretty qualified to discuss this topic, since I basically already did in this comments-section discussion with KoopaTV regular Lheticus Videre, about the new NES and SNES games available on the Switch as of December, with special emphasis on Kirby Super Star. We happen to use the same language of “beat” that Mr. Matei did, so I'll just reproduce the conversation here, as well as the video I made for the occasion:

“With the SNES emulator Nintendo Switch Online offers, you can make save states and rewind time, so that means you can cheat and get 1-frame Samurai Kirby results to beat Meta Knight.”

“Since we're both trying to appeal to others, I'll let that slide, but I don't care for cheating personally.”

“I don't think I ever beat Meta Knight on Samurai Kirby on maximum difficulty.


“Then you still haven't. :P Then again, I haven't either...”

“Look at my fabulous skills:”

Lheticus continued in the YouTube video's comments section (which is a bad place to discuss things, since the YouTube comments section will stop existing come January 1, 2020...which is... QUITE SOON) stating that if you cheated, you didn't beat it. I asked him to consider how Meta Knight feels.

So... what does this all mean? Well, using the rewind features and save state abilities is cheating at the game. They're basically a built-in GameShark, Game Genie, or Action Replay, which are externally-installed and manufactured cheating devices. Just because they come with the emulator (Nintendo Switch Online) doesn't mean it's not cheating. These nearly allow you to do tool-assisted runs, which are considered a whole different category of play than normal play.

Still, even if you cheated, you still beat it. I mean, if you're going around telling people stories that you beat Punch-Out!! (Mr. Dream and/or Mike Tyson), you should probably have an asterisk in there if the full story includes save states or rewinds. While I think having tool-assisted runs still requires skill—a different kind of skill, but still a skill—it's something that ought to be clarified in any braggadocious conversation, which seems to be the types that Mr. Matei, the I-beat-these-hard-games-on-stream streamer, involves himself with.

In any other conversation, no one cares—or asks—how you beat the game. If you're just discussing a game (unless the conversation is on, say, deep game mechanics that you need to be on a higher difficulty mode to appreciate) no one cares or asks if you finished the game on the get-me-through-the-story difficulty mode.

Ice Climber rewind feature Nintendo Switch Online NES games
There is no shame in cheating to get through awful games like Ice Climber.
(Though I'm not sure how one “beats” Ice Climber anyway.)

As for the rest of the request, I should specify that there's a big difference between cheating in online multiplayer games, and cheating in a single-player game. The former is widely understood as unacceptable, though I don't extend that to the Nintendo Switch Online emulation turning every game there as some form of online multiplayer.

One last thing: I'd put using New Super Mario Bros.-era “Super Guides” to get through the levels for you in the same category as cheating. Though if you theoretically wanted to use save states to counter how New Super Mario Bros. Wii or Super Mario 3D Land applied it, more power to you. (Reminder: If you fail a level eight times, a Super Guide Block or Assist Block appears. If you ever even see these blocks—even without using them—your save file will be permanently marked. That's evil.)

Ludwig can't go around condemning people for cheating in single-player game experiences, when he's been cheating at Ring Fit Adventure for weeks, such as holding the Ring-Con in prohibited locations, or taking advantage of the system's pause feature. In addition, he wrote a whole strategy article about taking advantage of the Nintendo Switch's features to cheat at Ōkami's Blockhead Grande miniboss, which weren't features put in place by that game's developer team. Therefore, Ludwig took the logically consistent path when writing this article. The only wrong way to play is the one that makes you feel guilty inside your head. (He'd like to point out that Lheticus Videre wasn't logically consistent, since he complimented Ludwig's Ōkami cheating but condemned his Kirby Super Star cheating. Feel free to defend yourself in the comments section!)


  1. Hang on, there's something I gotta go retweet. :P That aside, many thanks for clarifying your stance on this issue so saliently.

    1. Do you wanna clarify your stance that I bring up in the footer...?!

    2. ...Wow I only just noticed that callout. Gotta stop my eyes from skipping over the italic text at the end of these. What I would say to that is, I wasn't specifically complimenting your cheating. I was moreso complimenting that you could make Okami content at all, since, as I had mentioned in the thread in question, I couldn't get past the part very early on in the game where you had to make the cherry blossoms bloom.

      In other words, it was meant more as a general acknowledgement of your skill in that regard, that you're better than me at Okami. A sentiment that I am happy to repeat in regards to the game that I called you out on before, even regardless of how you dealt with Meta Knight. I couldn't ever even get past KAWASAKI on hard difficulty in Samurai Kirby, and just today I confirmed, to my chagrin, that this is even still the case.

      And absolutely, as far as cheating as a skillset goes, you are my superior in that regard. In fact, you're better at it than I would ever hope to be.

    3. Multiple people have claimed to me that the footers are the best part of KoopaTV! I don't agree with them, but, hey, that's what I hear.

      Now, here's a flaw in the rest of what you're saying. What if I cheated to get through everything else, but I just haven't admit it yet? Perhaps I cheated to beat Kawasaki. Perhaps I somehow cheated to get through the rest of Ōkami. I could just be a bigger fraud than Elizabeth Warren!

    4. ....Well I did those things legitimately. >.>

  2. I met Mike Matei in person and got his autograph. This was when I was meeting James Rolfe for his Angry Video Game role. So probably biased and can't be too hard on Mike for the Tweet.

    I do find rewind and savestates for games a boon as a parent. Not very easy to keep replaying sections over and over again when I have limited time for games these days. I do consider myself finishing games if I use them but would not feel ashamed to bring them up if asked if I used cheats.

    1. I mean, reminder, he made his point this way:
      "you DID NOT by any stretch of the imagination beat the god damn game."
      That's a stronger statement than he had to have made, really meaning this is personal for him!

      ...Though this article is written to be more generalised than just about one guy.

      One day toddler Girafarig will be able to help you play the games. :o

    2. She already does. When I was playing the first Spyro game she kept saying "Be careful with the water." Spyro can't swim in the first game so she managed to pick that up on her own because I did not tell her about that fact at all.

    3. She'll do well with Octo Valley/Cannon...


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