Any old gamer would tell you that “they don’t manufacture them like they used to!” Old games may be simpler, particularly when compared to newer ones, but many of them are also significantly more difficult.
Fortunately, current emulators have a variety of features that may assist you in crossing the finish line without breaking a sweat. You can rewind time to “correct” a mistake, or slow it to a crawl to get through intense shootouts. You may also become eternal by using hacks.
Let’s see how you can do all that and more with RetroArch.
What Is RetroArch?
RetroArch is, in many ways, the equivalent of a universal front-end for various emulators. RetroArch, on the other hand, is based on “cores,” as opposed to a standard front-end for many independent emulators. Each core is its own emulator, but they all lack an interface. RetroArch serves as an interface as well as connective tissue.
When standalone emulators added features like slow motion and cheats, their corresponding cores followed suit. RetroArch offers these functionalities through unified, user-friendly menus.
So, not only can you play games from multiple old systems with RetroArch, but also finally master them by using its “cheating features”.
How to Use Cheats in RetroArch?
For this article, we’ll take for granted that you’ve already got RetroArch installed, configured, and are using it to play your favorite emulated games. We’ll focus solely on the tools RetroArch provides to assist in your retro gaming adventures. Out of all of them, cheats are the most important, for they can turn you into a pixilated, unkillable god in a game’s digital world.
Back in the day, gamers even used specialized equipment to cheat in their favorite games. Developers made devices like the Action Replay, a cartridge originally released for the Commodore 64 computer, for that reason. Those could scan a computer’s memory to, for example, locate where it stored the number of “lives” or “bullets”. You could get more lives or infinite ammo by tweaking or “freezing” those numbers.
Although RetroArch allows you to design your own cheats, others have already done the hard work. As a consequence, you may enjoy the fruits of their effort by downloading cheat collections for all supported platforms and then activating the ones you desire.
After installing and configuring RetroArch, go to the Online Updater from the Main Menu.
RetroArch will not be able to download updates unless your firewall allows it access to the internet.
Scroll down and select the Update Cheats entry.
That’s all there is to it—you’re now ready to cheat in your favorite games! So, choose one of them; we choose Shinobi III for the Mega Drive.
While the game is running, hit the Home button on your control pad (the one between the two thumb sticks on Xbox 360 and PlayStation controllers) or F1 on your keyboard. This will send you to RetroArch’s Quick Menu and halt the game. Navigate to the Cheats section and click it.
RetroArch may have already loaded the right cheats depending on how you configured it. To locate them, scroll to the bottom of that menu. If none are available, choose Load Cheat File (Replace).
RetroArch will display a file requester, with the contents of its cheats subfolder shown. If you followed our advice and downloaded/updated them, you’ll find folders and cheat files for all supported systems here.
Locate the platform folder you’re imitating. It was Sega’s Mega Drive/Genesis in our situation.
It contains cheat files for many supported games. Hopefully, your game is one of them. Find it and open its cheat file.
Return to the Cheats menu and activate the Auto-Apply Cheats During Game Load and Apply After Toggle options. Finally, click Apply Changes to apply your new settings.
Scroll down until you find a list of possible cheats. Enable the ones you desire (they vary depending on the game—some provide endless lives, energy, credits, and so forth).
Scroll up and choose Restart to restart your game with the cheats enabled.
The game will play normally, but with cheats enabled, you should be able to complete it in a single sitting. Shinobi III, the tough-as-nails Mega Drive game with endless lives, energy, and shurikens:
Because it affects your cheating possibilities, we’ve detailed how RetroArch supports multiple cores. To summarize, the core you use to run a game may not allow cheats. Or you may choose not to support any of them. Try the alternate cores if you find yourself in this situation.
Return to RetroArch’s Quick Menu and choose Close Content to exit the game. Then, choose Set Core Association and pick one of the system’s Suggested cores. RetroArch, for example, provides at least four cores for Sega’s Genesis/Mega Drive.
How Else Can RetroArch Make Old Games Easier?
Cheats are the simplest method to “win” a game, but they may also take the pleasure out of the experience. Unless, of course, you’re playing a walking simulator. What’s the point of playing a game and passing through it unscathed?
That’s why RetroArch, like many standalone emulators, has various different options for getting over a hard patch without outright cheating.
You may save your game at any moment using Save States. They’re especially useful since most vintage games didn’t enable saving.
Access RetroArch’s Quick Menu to save a game at any moment. Select the slot in which you want to store the game from State Slot, then Save State. You may utilize the same slot if you don’t mind overwriting your previous saves.
To resume a game from a Save State, repeat the process, but instead of Save State, choose Load State.
Alternatively, if you haven’t remapped them, you may store and load a state by pressing F2 and F4. F6 and F7 are used to pick a State Slot.
RetroArch simulates slow motion by lowering the frame rate of an emulated game. It’s especially useful in traditional platformers and shooters, where accuracy is essential.
To utilize it, hold down the E key on your keyboard, and the game’s action will slow down to the speed of bullet time.
If you want to feel like an octopus while gaming, go to RetroArch’s main menu. Go to Settings > Input > Hotkeys from there. Unbind E from Slow-Motion (Hold) and replace it with Slow-Motion (Toggle).
After that adjustment, you’ll only need to hit the E key (or any other key you assigned to the feature) once to activate slow motion. To restore to regular speed, press it again.
Rewind, which was first introduced in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, seemed as groundbreaking for gaming as Matrix’s bullet-time did for film. By holding down a button, time began to flow backward, “rewinding” like an old tape, enabling you to reverse a bad move.
Unlike the Matrix’s bullet-time, developers did not reproduce rewind in many games since it was a memory-intensive feature. For “typical” contemporary games, at least.
Emulator developers found that earlier games only required a fraction of the RAM on current computers, making the feature usable.
We’re clarifying this because, although being feasible and supported by RetroArch, rewind still requires a significant amount of RAM to function. The quantity of memory and the outcomes of the feature are also affected by the simulated system. The functionality is not supported by all cores.
Visit RetroArch’s Quick Menu to rewind your game. Locate and choose the Rewind entry.
Enable Rewind Support.
In Rewind Buffer Size, choose how much RAM you wish to allocate to rewinding (MB).You can customize its granularity, or “how rapidly you’ll rewind time,” by raising the amount of Rewind Frames.
Return to your game and get started. Did you just fall into a hole by accident? Hold R and watch time suddenly reverse. When you’ve returned to a safe location, release go of R and begin playing.
Cheaters Are Winners!
We’ll admit it: if it weren’t for the features we’ve discussed, we’d still be fantasizing about completing Armalyte sometime. This modest writer accomplished this achievement over three decades after initially playing the C64’s famous classic shooter, thanks to these tricks and workarounds.
Purists may sneer, but if the complexity of an old game prevents you from enjoying it, you now know how to cope with such… let’s call them “adversities.” It’s time to show those upper-level executives who’s in control. If you can’t do it right now, store a state and present it later.
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