I remember when I was younger, there were rumors of arcade games that if you entered a "secret code", you would be granted a free game.

Now I understand that this runs counter to the idea of arcades (why have an arcade machine if you're not going to earn money from it?), but I was wondering if there was any truth to the rumors. Maybe a disgruntled programmer snuck in a backdoor in one of the games?

3 Answers 3


I never seen confirmation that any of those rumors about codes were true. There is a setting called "Free Play" on most arcades that the owner can enable, however, which involves opening the case itself. This may have been what started the rumors.

EDIT: That's not to say that some games didn't have a glitch that allowed free play to become available without opening the cabinet. This sometimes involved actions like physically turning the machine off, then rebooting it again when it was at a certain point in the startup sequence.

  • This is exactly what I expected the answer to be like. I would have never thought about the rebooting aspect though.
    – VOIDHand
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 22:29
  • Some if not most older games would have an internal advance / test switch which would add one credit per press but -not- increase the coin counter records on machines that had bookkeeping stats. The idea of this switch was to allow a technician or the owner credit to test and play without messing up the coin draw total, more useful where an employee may erm "keep a few coins as a free pay bonus" etc .
    – AndyF
    Commented Jan 25, 2020 at 23:30

I can't speak for any other titles, but "A certain version number" of Mortal Kombat 3 did have a code, You beat the game, then did a series of button presses and joystiq movements as the credits rolled" and you would get infinite credits upon the game reloading. This of course infuriated arcade owners to the point that an update was patched in to remove it. Luckily, my arcade never did update all the MK3 machines it had. But Yes, at one point, stuff like this did happen.


Tempest had a bug that gave you 40 credits if you ended the game with a certain score. They fixed it later on, so it only happens in rev1 rom.


There are probably other examples out there.

Another one I forgot about is the "Konami Code":


In some games it grants full powerups, but in others (like Contra) it gives additional lives.

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