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January 21st, 2008

The Madden Wheel

I was reminiscing with Paul the other day about old school copy protection schemes that companies used to use on games. While most just used some simple encryption scheme that was easy to break using Copy II+, I remember Madden Football going a different route with their three-level decoder wheel. Everytime you started up the software (provided on an encrypted 5.25″ floppy, of course), you were given three numbers. You turned your decoder wheel so that all three were highlighted and then entered the resulting code. It was a complete hassle.

Plus, it was also easy to break. A friend simply disassembled the wheel, photocopied it, and gave it to me along with a copy of the game. A Xerox machine was the DeCSS of the day, I suppose.

A few games required entering the “fifth word on the 63rd page” of the manual, but none were quite as annoying and ineffective as Madden’s protection scheme in the 80s.

Posted in Childhood Memories, Technology

Dave Walls January 21, 2008, 4:23 pm

Wayne Gretzky Hockey had a similar method, which was just as annoying. Each page of the manual had a hockey goalie pictured in a different saving position. Everytime you wanted to play, you had to match the right goalie, out of50 or so choices. (!)

Aanen January 22, 2008, 2:41 pm

Star Flight has a similar wheel but instead of words and numbers, it was symbols. You had to enter the right code or else your spaceship would blow up. Fun game .

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