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Cheating

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Cheating refers to the process of playing the Pokémon games through third-party devices to alter the game's data, usually to give the player advantages that would not be available through normal gameplay. Cheating is most frequently used to obtain or duplicate rare Pokémon or items, particularly those which would otherwise require attending a Nintendo event.

Overview

The appearance of a wild Bulbasaur in Generation V, something that can only happen with the use of cheating devices

Devices such as Gameshark and Action Replay can be easily used to directly alter the game's data in many ways, such as automatically making Pokémon Shiny, giving them optimal IVs and Natures, or even modifying their moves and stats to obtain otherwise impossible values. These Pokémon are frequently known as hacked Pokémon. The devices are also frequently used to obtain Pokémon or items which would otherwise be only obtainable through a Nintendo promotional events. For example, cheating may be used to obtain the GS Ball or Old Sea Map (in generations II and III respectively), both of which were only distributed in Japan.

A wild F-00, an example of using a wild Pokémon modifier code. Notice the error that causes the game to display the name using full-width rather than half-width characters as well as replacing "" to be replaced by "?" in the name

A common example of a cheat is a "Wild Pokémon Modifier" code, allowing the user to encounter and catch any Pokémon of choice in any location, allowing for example, rapid EV training or obtaining of Legendary Pokémon. More complex codes can also set the wild Pokémon's level and Nature. These codes when used properly can have little to no negative effects on the save file, although later generations keep track of the location where a Pokémon was obtained making it possible to identify illegitimate Pokémon obtained through this method. More unconventionally, a wild Pokémon modifier code can be used in Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 to see Pokéstar Studios opponents, although catching them is impossible as the game will attempt to bring up a nonexistent Pokédex entry, causing a game freeze.

A "walk through walls" code (also known as "walk anywhere") has also been developed for several games, allowing for example users in Pokémon Diamond and Pearl to access areas otherwise impossible to legitimately reach, such as the Mystery Zone, Newmoon Island, and Flower Paradise. The latter two allow for catching the otherwise event-exclusive Pokémon Darkrai and Shaymin.

On a more sophisticated level, many devices exist that allow players to back up their game's save file. While itself arguably legitimate, some downloadable programs such as Pokésav have been created specifically for use in conjunction with these files, allowing users to freely edit or make their own Pokémon from scratch.

Not all players will use cheating devices to make the game easier. Examples of codes that can be used to make the game harder include using codes to trigger a battle with Professor Oak, or codes that prevent the user's Pokémon from gaining any experience.

Criticism

The primary complaint against cheating devices is that it takes no particular ability to enter a cheat code, thus detracting from the point and spirit of the game and making it less enjoyable. While this is a subjective matter, it is the primary cause of cheating offending most players, especially when players can trade illegitimate Pokémon to others in exchange for legitimate Pokémon.

Another more practical argument against cheating is that they often hurt the stability of the game. Improperly used codes can harm the game's save file or even delete it altogether.

A common justification for using cheating devices is that they can be used in moderation to obtain otherwise event-exclusive Pokémon. Due to the fact that Nintendo events, the only legitimate way to obtain such Pokémon, are often time-limited and region-exclusive, they can be impossible to obtain for some players solely due to their geographic location, and become altogether impossible after a certain date. It is a matter of opinion whether or not this is a valid excuse for cheating, although when kept for personal use is often criticized less than more drastic cheats.

Preventive measures

Generation III games exclusively contain two specific cheating countermeasures. First, Mew and Deoxys were given special programming that prevents them from ever obeying the player if they were obtained illegitimately. This can be bypassed if the player uses cheats to get to Faraway Island or Birth Island to catch the Pokémon that way, as the Pokémon itself becomes indistinguishably legitimate although the event item to arrive at the location is not. This countermeasure does not exist in Generation IV. Second, special programming known as DMA (dynamic memory allocation) causes sensitive memory areas such as Pokémon data to dynamically move around, preventing or making it difficult for cheating devices to target this data. This can be avoided through codes that disable the DMA altogether; such codes are often referred to as "Master Codes".

Other

Depending on opinion, these methods may be referred to as illegitimate or 'cheating' by some, although as they do not involve any third-party modifications to the game they cannot be classified the same way as the above.

Glitches

Main article: Glitch
An example of the tweaking glitch, where the player is biking in the void south of Lake Verity, which is actually a part of the Mystery Zone

Glitches involve behavior that has been coded into the game by the programmers, but unintentionally. While most have no real in-game utility, some have behavior that can be exploited for players' benefit, such as the very well-known Old man glitch and Mew glitch in Generation I.

The effects of some glitches, such as the Rage glitch in Generation IV, can be extended to allow almost any Pokémon to know any move introduced at the time. These Pokémon can then theoretically be used in areas such as competitive battling, giving players who use it a decisive advantage over those who do not. As such a Pokémon cannot be technically defined as hacked, most tournament areas include a rule forbidding such Pokémon (among other, legitimate Pokémon such as most Legendary Pokémon) from participating.

PRNG Manipulation

Main article: Pseudorandom number generation in Pokémon → RNG abuse

As the definition of a PRNG means that it is predictable to an extent, it is possible through specific actions (such as setting the system time or precise timing) to manipulate the numbers generated. With knowledge of how these calculations work, players can then aim for specific and otherwise extremely unlikely traits when breeding or encountering Pokémon, such as perfect Individual values or Shininess.

As the results obtained from PRNG manipulation can be randomly reproduced without any sort of manipulation, and there is no interference with the game's coding, using this method to obtain Pokémon is rarely considered a form of cheating, although there can be controversy over whether it is 'legitimate'.

Related articles


Project Games logo.png This game-related article is part of Project Games, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon games.