Retro: The Anticlimatic Quest to Find the Person Behind Metroid’s Most Famous ‘Code Cheat’

You know Metroid, then it is possible yes as well know the name Justin Bailey.

Enter this code (or password, to be more precise) into the original NES Metroid it will give you not only full power, but also a special dress for Samus Aran. While many passwords of the period were random selections of letters and numbers, the code ‘Justin Bailey’ became famous because it was so easy to remember – which is why people still try to discover its origins, even today.

Kate Willaert says A critical blow! he is such a person; last year, he devoted time to finding the real Justin Bailey, and as you might expect, it was a beautiful race – even if the end result isn’t arquantu whatever you might want.

The password itself is, as Willaert explains, almost certainly a total fortune and does not appear to have been intentional:

In reality, “Justin Bailey” is nothing more than a coincidence – a name that just happens to result in a very convenient caricature.

The way the password system works, each value in a password alters a specific aspect of the game state. So the only way a programmer could intentionally explain a phrase is if they essentially bypassed the password generator and encrypted it harshly (which happened in at least one example). The fact that the letters “Justin Bailey” unlock this specific state in the password generator is really just a cosmic coincidence.

So, you may be wondering, why bother looking for Justin Bailey? Well, Willaert thinks you’re the password they were luckily, then the most likely way it can be discovered is by someone actually named Justin Bailey entering his name on the password screen to see what would happen – and, once that is done, they will presumably share this information with the friends or send them to a video game magazine for publication as advice.

With this theory in mind, Willaert looked at cases where the password was mentioned in the print media and revealed how it was disseminated among the gaming population at the time. While magazines like Nintendo Power and books like that How to Win at Nintendo Games # 2 spread the code, they weren’t the point of origin – Willaert points out that as the July 1989 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment, which credited the code to Steve Bland of Shepherdsville, Kentucky (misspelt as “Sherherdsville”) .

Willaert knew of Bland’s trail, but unfortunately, he only vaguely remembered that he had presented the code, he wasn’t able to remember where he came from – the only thing he was sure of was the fact that he didn’t made discover the same. Thus, the search continued.

Reasoning that Bland might have heard about the code from a friend, Willaert looked around for people named Justin Bailey who graduated from the same school in Kentucky. He found one, but it was two years ago when the tip was first released on VideoGames & Computer Entertainment.

The end of the road? Perhaps Willaert admits:

This could make the scenario most likely where a family friend or relative discovered the code while connecting the names of different people they knew. It was finally “Justin Bailey” that resulted in something useful. Which would definitely explain why we’ve never heard of the real Justin Bailey. The problem is that, unless the theoretical family friend or relative one day talks, this is basically the end of the road.

I tried to reach out to suspect Justin Bailey – and even other Justin Baileys in the greater Louisville area to cover my bases – but was surprisingly ignored. After all, if you’ve never heard of it Metroid, why would you want to respond to someone strange who claims to be something called a “game historian”?

Just imagine: Justin Bailey couldn’t understand who he is Justin Bailey.


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