A password is a series of written or spoken commands, usually containing letters, numbers, or symbols that will allow one to enter a place or state that, without the password, one would not normally have access to.

A word association game. One player provides single-word clues to a teammate until the answer word is guessed. The opposing team has the opportunity to win the word if the first team cannot guess it within a certain number of clues.

A TV version was famously hosted by Allen Ludden beginning in 1961. On the popular show, each team was made up of a celebrity paired with a contestant. TV's Password was reincarnated several times over the years (Password II, Password Plus), and reruns are now shown on the Game Show Network.

Are you trying to figure out how to change your E2 password? If you are like me you browsed through the Everything FAQ and Everything University, but couldn't seem to find it explained anywhere. So eventually you tried searching for "password" and here you are! Well, you may have missed The Newbie's Guide to Your Home Node which explains the process. But to summarize:

  • Go to your "home node". This is the node with your user name. You can probably find a link to it in the right hand column of this page under the heading "Epicenter".
  • Somewhere near the top of your home node is a link called "edit". Click on that link. (Not the link here silly! The one in your home node.).
  • You should now see two fields where you can enter a new password. Do that and click the "Submit" button.

The game show "Password" was created by Bob Stewart for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. It actually made its debut on another Goodson-Todman game show, "I've Got a Secret," in which Vivian Vance's secret was that she wanted to play a great new word game with the panel.

After that stellar example of corporate synergy, "Password" debuted on CBS's schedule at 2:00 P.M. Eastern time on October 2, 1961, and ran in the same time slot until it was canceled by CBS as of September 15, 1967. Meanwhile, a prime time version ran weekly from January 2, 1962 to May 22, 1967 in various time slots.

On this version, the score for each word started at 10 points if the contestant or their celebrity partner guessed it on the first clue. If they couldn't guess it, the other contestant-celebrity team had a chance for 9 points. Play continued back and forth until the final chance was worth only 1 point. The judging was very strict, with only non-hyphenated one-word clues allowed. World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary editor Reason A. Goodwin sat offstage to serve as the word authority.

The first contestant to get to 25 points won $100 on the daytime version or $250 on the prime-time version, and then got to play the Lightning Round for up to $250. The celebrity would have 60 seconds to try to communicate five words to the contestant, with a $50 prize for each one correct. Peter Lawford held the speed record, once communicating all five words in 12 seconds.

The contestants would then walk around the front of the desk to change celebrity partners, and would play another game.

After "Password" was canceled, episodes from the last year of the daytime version, which had been produced in color, were butchered to cut out the sponsorship announcements and dated references and then put into syndication. Game show reruns airing on another channel was unheard of in those pre-Game Show Network days.

"Password" was revived by ABC, where it premiered on April 5, 1971, at 4:00 P.M. Eastern time. This version was essentially the same until November 18, 1974, when it became "Password All-Stars," with only celebrities playing the game. Regular contestants returned a few months later, but the last episode aired June 27, 1975.

It returned on January 8, 1979, this time on NBC, with a new format and a new title. "It's more than Password, it's Password Plus," as announcer Gene Wood said at the beginning of each show.

On this version, instead of each word in the main game being completely separate, every five words would be linked together and add up to the name of a person, place, or thing. The teams only got four chances to guess each word, and a correct guess led to a chance to guess the puzzle's solution. The first and second correctly solved puzzles were worth $100 each, and subsequent puzzles were worth $200 apiece.

Whichever contestant was first to reach $400 would go with their celebrity partner to play Alphabetics, the replacement for the Lightning Round. The celebrity had 60 seconds to communicate 10 words, starting with consecutive letters of the alphabet. The prize was $100 per word, or $5,000 for correctly guessing all 10.

The judging for what was an acceptable clue was less strict on "Password Plus" than it had been on "Password," although for a time, "Password Plus" adopted a no-opposites rule, resulting in some strange decisions, such as a producer deciding that cat was the opposite of dog.

Allen Ludden gradually became more and more ill with what turned out to be stomach cancer during the run of "Password Plus." At one point, Bill Cullen served as guest host for several weeks; eventually, Ludden was too sick to continue and was replaced by Tom Kennedy in early 1981. Kennedy continued as host until "Password Plus" ended on March 26, 1982.

The "Password Plus" format returned to NBC with the title "Super Password" on September 24, 1984, lasting until March 24, 1989, despite airing at noon Eastern time and thus being preempted for local news by many East Coast NBC affiliates.

Bert Convy was now the host. The puzzles were now worth $100, $200, $300, and $400, with at least $500 required to win the game and go to the bonus round. The winner of the $200 puzzle played the special "Ca$hword," in which the celebrity had three chances to communicate an especially hard word to the contestant. The prize for guessing the Ca$hword started at $1,000 and went up by $1,000 every time a word wasn't guessed; a correct guess meant the contestant would immediately be handed a check for the prize amount, rather than the usual method of not being paid until the show aired.

Although the Alphabetics name was dropped, the bonus round was played exactly the same, but the prize for guessing all 10 words started at $5,000 and went up by $5,000 every time a contestant was unsuccessful. Since contestants could only play the bonus round five times before having to retire from the show, it was to a new contestant's potential monetary advantage to be brought in after a long string of bonus round losses rather than after a win.

The catch phrase from the original version of "Password" was the announcer whispering "The password is (word)" for the audience at home, immediately followed by a bell that was audible in the studio to indicate that the announcer had finished. In later versions, the announcement was replaced by an electronic sound effect, but "the password is..." returned in the later years of "Super Password."

The videotapes of ABC's "Password" and "Password All-Stars" were destroyed, as were the non-syndicated episodes of CBS's daytime "Password," but all other versions have been rerun on Game Show Network.

When pertaining to video games, passwords are a largely obsolete way of tracking progress, and allowing players to retain progress (as opposed to kicking them back to the start every time.) Generally, when quitting the game, after the end of the stage, or at some other stopping point, a password is displayed. Assuming the player bothered to write this password down, he or she could enter the password into the appropriate screen, and voila! Start somewhere approximating where he/she left off.

Passwords were usually relatively simple codes (sometimes even logical words) to return to a specific stage, and such passwords were common in straightforward games, ones with no inventory or other attributes to track other than linear progress. (Occasionally, games with inventories or similar attributes would use these kinds of simple passwords, making it easy for people to cheat or causing players to lose everything they've collected; Desert Strike and Super Empire Strikes Back both had this flaw.)

Less common were complicated, nonsensical strings of characters used to keep track of more than just progress. While this isn't particularly efficient, and these passwords were often cracked (allowing for easy cheating), these kinds of passwords were cheaper than battery-backed save games. Metroid, Deadly Towers, and the entire Mega Man series until Mega Man 8 used these kinds of complex passwords.

Passwords don't always use conventional letters and numbers. The Mega Man series, for example, uses a small matrix of dots, an obnoxious form to transcribe. The only real reason to use passwords like this, other than stylization, are pictoral passwords, used in games (usually games based on children's cartoons) where the player may not yet know how to read and write.

Passwords became common in the post-Atari 2600 era, as linear progress became more important than score. They had their heyday until the prevalence of battery-backed save in 16-bit games, although password-based games persisted until the PlayStation and its flash ROM memory cards became popular. Passwords saw a much quicker death on PCs, disappearing right about the time that hard drives became common.

The greatest strength of passwords is their simplicity. It's fairly easy to implement a password system in any game without any kind of inventory. Additionally, passwords would theoretically also be very useful for transferring progress between different versions of a game on different platforms, although this benefit was very rarely seen.

The greatest weakness of passwords is their inefficiency. Any game with more variables to track than "Stage X" will become increasingly more complex, especially if the password needs to be hard to crack. The fact that cheap, quick ways to save games are available on almost any common platform for games continues to assure the obselescence of game passwords, as well.

Contrast with: cheat code

An interesting, but little known fact about video games passwords has not yet been mentioned here, so I will go over it. I'll even provide a little tutorial / demonstration, you lucky people.

Basically, in the case of games which have one password to correspond to each level etc. (ie not games like Metroid mentioned above) it is often possible to find out a complete list of the passwords in the game simply by knowing one of them, and using a relative search to find the others. They are usually stored in a big block in the ROM, uncompressed, and they are very easy to find.

Demonstration

To follow the demonstration you will need:

  • A clean, unpatched ROM of Little Magic for the SNES. If you're unsure, confirm this is a good dump with Nach's SNES Rom Tools. Actually, it probably doesn't matter too much if you have Gideon Zhi's translation patch on, but I'm not sure (I use soft patching) and I don't want to have people complaining that it doesn't work with the patch on. So use an unpatched version. Source: Well, I can't tell you where to get this, for fear of E2 being hit with a big Lawstick. However, a little searching around on Google should bring up the goods.
  • A text editor (Notepad or similar is fine) would be useful to look at the password properly. And make sure it's unzipped.
  • Windows, and preferably not Windows XP. Sorry, but there are hardly any ROM hacking tools available for OSes other than Windows, and many of the best are DOS based, which leads to them not working in XP. I'm sure there are workarounds, and Windows tools which you can get, but I'm using Hexposure, which is a DOS based Hex Editor. If you only have XP, well, you might just have to muddle along with some other tools. And if you have Linux, hell, you could probably write your own Hex Editor... lj recommends frhed for a free Hex editor, and says that actually the DOS Virtual Machine for XP isn't bad, and is much better than NT, ME, or 2000. That's probably true, but I saw a lot of posts on a ROMhacking forum from people who had upgraded to XP and found that none of their favourite DOS tools worked any more. lj also notes that if DOS tool doesn't work on XP, there is no way it will work with anything later than 98, so bear that in mind. Source: (If you haven't already got it, I doubt you'll buy it for this). All reputable shops, Software sites, and countless illegal places...
  • Zsnes (my favourite) or another similar SNES emulator (Snes9x or SNEeSe is fine). Source: www.zsnes.com
  • A Hex Editor - as I've mentioned, I prefer Hexposure, but I'm sure any other major one (like Thingy or Hex Workshop) will do. Source: www.romhacking.com

What you want to do first is load up the game, because without at least one password it all becomes a little tricky. So start Zsnes and pick your Little Magic file in the load game dialogue. Start a new game (even though it's Japanese, the "New Game" and "Password" messages are English) and press select (you'll have to configureto "commit suicide". Do this continuously to lose all your lives (you only get a password when you lose all your lives) and then you should be given a number. Quick, write it down. What's that? You forgot it? Never mind, it was 372025.

Just to check that was right, reset the game and type in that password in the box. You should be taken to the first level again. Simple. However, to make sure we have the right passwords (and to provide us with a longer relative search string) we should get the password for the next level. Yeah, you're actually going to have to play the game. Ain't it a hard life?

It'd take me too long to tell you about the game play mechanics of the game, (although if you really want to know, here they are) but basically, all that you need to do to get through the first level is push the block upwards by pressing, yes, you guessed it, "up" on the control pad. Keep pushing it up until it rests on the grey panel on the floor. Then move the character to stand on the other grey panel. The level should then end. Now that you're on Level 2, you have to commit suicide continuously again to get the next password. This one is 053127. Reset the game and type that in. You are taken to Level 2, so clearly we have the right passwords. Now all that is left to do is finding them in the ROM.

Fire up Hexposure or whatever Hex Editor you have chosen to use. You need to load the Little Magic file (remember, unzipped) into the editor. Once that's in, find the relative search function. In Hexposure, just press F6. Now, you want to relative search for the password we found from level 1. To do this, just type it in the box and press enter. When it's found, depending on the editor, you may be asked if you wish to create a table file. Select yes. Now, you should be shown a massive block of numbers (look in the character view, not the Hex view, unless you are very good at reading Hex). If you look closely, you see that after the 6 numbers for the level 1 password, there follows the 6 number password for level 2, so we're definitely in the right place. Just to check, make sure that the first character of the level 1 password is at $0000A9E0 - if so, you've done it right.

However, the numbers all squashed up don't make for much in the way of easy reading. To remedy this, find the memory location of the end of the numbers block - it's $0000AC3D in case you can't find it. Next you need to dump the contents of the ROM between these two locations - find the dumping feature of the editor and enter in the two memory locations. A text file will be created containing the number block, but unfortunately it's a bit hard to read, because it's just a big block of characters. Since each password is 6 numbers long, an ideal solution would be to create a linebreak after each set of 6 numbers, so each password is on a separate line. If you can't be bothered to do this, have no fear...


372025
053127
919310
441234
907138
716464
265919
851710
242035
334211
622898
335170
984427
025959
359905
653126
119697
461932
451783
046627
248586
250195
773059
181779
935500
451500
514064
231906
193444
211747
725681
069319
090583
526074
983712
597726
475420
125573
187879
190251
835610
488631
471441
275095
278393
975893
254443
027808
637648
094850
403584
195190
698582
885059
527718
050825
560036
431978
395969
460226
113419
498435
481482
089618
642266
292713
628791
721337
559422
351269
845818
711856
261853
550072
222492
556444
106075
245568
974994
596435
521215
531272
610631
839137
231696
628976
224331
908356
617544
394600
916762
118547
195320
961645
330083
673597
219682
500292
328309
992221
930917

Simply copy that big block into a text file, save it, and it'll be nice, big and readable. Now, the fun begins*...

There are a number of things you can do with a full password list. For a start, you can go to any level in the game, including the end sequence, simply by typing in the number. Want to see the end of May's quest? Simple, just enter in 930917 and have a look. Not a lot of point unless you read Japanese, but now that you have the password list, you can select your level in the translated version as well, which is all nice and Englishified.

Even more interestingly, you can change the game's passwords. Simply use the Hex editor to get to which every password you want, and change it to whatever 6 character number sequence you like. I wouldn't like to try and add in non-number characters, as the game would probably just not work anymore... And naturally, make sure the password you add is different from all the others. Then simply save the file, and when it is loaded in the emulator, not only will entering the new password in the entry screen take you to whatever level, that level will display you the new password should you lose all your lives on it. This is because both these functions (checking the user entered password, and displaying the password on game over) use this single number block, as opposed to two blocks, so changing one entry in the block works for both functions.

As to what exactly the use of this is, well, there's nothing particularly obvious. If you ever need to get to the end of a game, to, for example, test the ending in a hacked version (I discovered and used this very method to confirm to Gideon Zhi that the Little Magic patch was complete, right up to the end of the game) then this is useful, as hacking save states or using Game Genie codes can randomly mess up games. And naturally, if you want passwords in a game to spell out something (in this game that would be hard, since they are numbers, but in, for example, Cameltry, the passwords are stored as letters, so you could put subliminal messages into a game, should you so wish**.

I hope this has been interesting and enlightening to at least some of you. If there is a bit of the tutorial I haven't made clear, please, tell me about it. If you want to see more ROM hacking stuff on E2... then wait for me to learn some more! In the meantime, www.romhacking.com has a hefty selection of tutorials for your amusement.


* - I bet you were wondering when that was going to happen...
** - I do not endorse or sponsor this use of my method. If you try it though, do tell me about the results.

Thanks to lj for comments and corrections.

Pass"word` (?), n.

A word to be given before a person is allowed to pass; a watchword; a countersign.

Macaulay.

 

© Webster 1913.

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