California Games Cheats & Cheat Codes for the NES, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, & More

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California Games Cheats & Cheat Codes for the NES, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, & More

California Games is a 1987 sports video game developed by Epyx, Westwood Associates (the Amiga version), and Rare (the NES version). Epyx published California Games in the North American region and U.S. Gold published it in Europe. The game was originally released for the Apple II and Commodore 64 systems, but it received ports to many consoles and computers. These systems include the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple IIGS, Atari 2600, Atari Lynx, Atari ST, DOS, Master System, MSX, NES, Sega Genesis, and ZX Spectrum. The reason the game is called California Games is because it features a wide selection of sports activities that are (or were at the time) popular in the state of California.

Today, gamers can find California Games on Steam for $9.99. Steam also offers a bundle deal for California Games and its sequel, California Games II for $11.23. The bundle offers both games at a 25% discount. Separately, the original and the sequel cost $9.99 and $4.99 respectively. For players who don’t want to dish out money for the game, but would still like the opportunity to play it, California Games can be found online for free. RetroGames.cz has the NES version free to play online. RetroGames.cz has an excellent catalog of classic games including titles like Pro Wrestling (1986), Mach Rider (1985), and Out Run (1986).

When California Games first came out, it sold over 300,000 copies in nine months which, at the time, was considered a blockbuster smash hit. By 1989, the game sold over half a million copies. Most of the reviews after its release were positive. The game was praised for appealing to both male and female audiences. It also had a wide variety of sports to partake in, giving players plenty of ways to play. Some critics felt that the novelty of the game wore off quickly and became repetitive, but most gamers and critics agreed that California Games was a fun experience. Modern gamers are a bit more torn on the game. Steam only gives it a 6 out of 10, but according to Google, 93% of users who weighed in on the game claim to like it.

California Games Premise

California Games half-pipe

©NintendoComplete / Epyx – License

California Games, like many classic games of the 1980s and ’90s, doesn’t set out to tell a story. There isn’t a story at all. California Games is more like a concept that puts the player in a specific setting and lets them partake in activities popular in that setting. In this specific instance, the game tries to simulate sports and athletic activities that are popular (or were popular in the 1980s) in California. Each version of the game has slightly different sports to choose from, so Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) users may have a different experience from Atari players.

Every version of the game includes the following sports, though:

  • Half-pipe
  • Footbag
  • Surfing (starring Rippin’ Rick)
  • Roller skating
  • BMX
  • Flying disc

The goal of the game is simple: Players choose which sport they want to play by selecting a “team”. From there, they’re transported to a map where that sport will play. For skateboarding on a half-pipe, players will find themselves in Hollywood. The Hollywood sign appears between each side of the half-pipe. For surfing, players go to the Pacific Coast. Players participate in the chosen sport and play for points. The player’s main goal is to achieve as high of a score as possible and hopefully overtake the reigning high score. Each sporting event has a time limit in which players can score points for tricks, combos, and how long they can go for. Players can wipe out or miss their objective, which will significantly cut into their allotted time.

California Games Main Characters

Many retro games in the 1980s and ’90s didn’t focus on a plot. Many games didn’t seek to tell a story, they just wanted to toss players right into the gameplay. In a similar respect, many games didn’t feature a main character. Some games, like Space Invaders (1978) didn’t even feature a playable character. Instead of controlling a person or living organism, players controlled a mounted laser cannon that could destroy alien invaders. Many games operated in this regard, allowing players to control a piece of machinery instead of a character.

Other games, like California Games, did let players control human characters, but they didn’t have any characterization. The skateboarder players’ control on the half-pipe isn’t the protagonist of the game. He’s just mandatory for the skateboard to move. The game focuses on the gameplay above any plot or character development. While players will control various characters throughout the different sports options, none of them are memorable. They don’t have personalities or backstories, they’re just there to participate in the player’s desired activity.

California Games Titles in the Series

Since California Games was such a commercial success, a sequel was inevitable. California Games was followed up with a 1990 sequel called California Games II, but it never took off the way the original game did. Since the sequel didn’t do as well as the developers hoped, the series never saw another game. The original California Games has been re-released and ported to many consoles and systems over the years, though. It received a mobile phone release and the Commodore 64 version was available on the Wii for a while.

California Games Cheats, Secrets, & Glitches

Surfing in California Games

©NintendoComplete / Epyx – License

There are many versions of California Games floating around. Most versions of the game are slightly different. Since there are so many differences between versions, not every cheat, secret, or glitch will work on every version of the game. Players should be sure to match their version with the respective tips. Please keep in mind that even if a code or glitch says it works for your version, California Games is almost 40 years old. Some glitches, codes, or secrets may not be consistent or may not work at all.

NES Cheats & Secrets

NES Secrets and Hidden Codes:

  • PAUL & RACHEL: If the player enters their name as either “PAUL” or “RACHEL”, they’ll see a secret popup during the Skate Competition. “PP & RME” will flash on the ground just before the end of the event.
  • Easy Points In BMX: Hold SELECT and repeatedly press B during the BMX event for easy points.
  • Quick Stop In BMX: Hit SELECT to instantly stop.

Easy BMX Bike Tricks:

  • Tabletop: Press JUMP and UP on the control stick
  • 360: Press JUMP and DOWN on the control stick
  • Backflip: Press JUMP and BACK on the control stick
  • Nose Dive: Press JUMP and FORWARD on the control stick
  • Wheelie: Press BACK on the control stick

Sega Genesis Hidden Credits

To see the hidden credits in the Sega Genesis version of California Games, players need to:

  • Open the menu
  • Hover the cursor over the “FOOTBAG” option
  • Press A, B, C, B, C, A, C, A
    • This will display the hidden credits and the developers’ scores for each event

Sega Master System Passwords & Unlockables

In-Game Unlockables:

Each of these unlockable items and power-ups requires the player to choose a specific name, break a record, and then win a bonus game.

  • Faster Hacky-Sack Reflexes: Choose the name TAKAKO, break a record, and then win the bonus game
  • New Bike: Choose the name KOTARO, break a record, and then win the bonus game
  • New Surfboard: Choose the name NORIKO, break a record, and then win the bonus game

Lynx Glitches & Easter Eggs

Avoid All Obstacles Glitch:

  • To avoid hitting all obstacles in the event, all players need to do is position their bike one pixel above the area where grass meets dirt. This should prevent them from colliding with anything.

Ride a Pelican Easter Egg:

Players can ride a pelican during the surfing event.

  • When the clock only has a few seconds left, move the surfer to the bottom of the screen
  • When the pelican flies by, the player’s character will automatically jump onto the pelican and ride it for the rest of the challenge

California Games Cheats FAQs

If players Google “California Games cheats”, a few FAQ results pop up. These questions ask generic cheat code-related questions like “Do cheats still exist in games?” and “How do people find cheat codes in games?” None of the results connect to California Games, though. Just Googling “California Games” turns up a few relevant results, but not much that hasn’t already been covered in this guide.

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