Entering this code (or password, to be more precise) in the original NES Metroid would not only grant you full power but also special outfit for Samus Aran. While many passwords back in the day were random selections of letters and numbers, the code “Justin Bailey” became famous because it was so easy to remember – which is why people are still trying to figure it out. its origins even today.
Kate Willaert from A critical hit! is one of those people; last year she spent time finding the real Justin Bailey, and as you might expect, it was quite an adventure – even if the end result wasn’t enough what you could have wanted.
The password itself is, as Willaert explains, almost certainly a fluke and does not appear to have been intentional:
In reality, “Justin Bailey” is nothing more than a coincidence – a name that just happens to translate into a very handy loadout.
The way the password system works, each value of a password changes a specific aspect of the state of the game. So the only way a programmer will intentionally spell a phrase is if it essentially bypasses the password generator and hard code (what happened in at least one instance). The fact that the letters “Justin Bailey” unlock this specific state in the password generator is really just a cosmic coincidence.
So, you might be wondering why look for Justin Bailey? Well, Willaert thinks that if the password have been fluke, then the most likely way it could be discovered is by someone who actually calls themselves Justin Bailey by entering their own name into the password screen to see what would happen – and, once done, they would likely share that information with friends or submit to a video game magazine for publication as a tip.
With that theory in mind, Willaert researched instances where the password was mentioned in the print media and found out how it was disseminated among the gaming population at the time. While magazines like Nintendo Power and books like How to win at Nintendo games # 2 broadcast the code, they weren’t the point of origin – Willaert identifies this as the July 1989 issue of VideoGames & Computer Entertainment, which attributes the code to Steve Bland of Shepherdsville, Kentucky (misspelled as “Sherherdsville”) .
Willaert was actually able to track down Bland, but unfortunately he only vaguely remembered that he had submitted the code, was not able to remember where it came from – the only thing he was sure was the fact. that he hadn’t. find out for himself. So the research continued.
Thinking that Bland may have heard about the code from a friend, Willaert sought out people named Justin Bailey who graduated from the same school in Kentucky. She found one, but it would have been two years old when the tip was first posted on VideoGames & Computer Entertainment.
The end of the road? Perhaps, Willaert admits:
This could make the most likely scenario one where a friend or relative of the family discovered the code, while inserting the names of different people they knew. It was ultimately “Justin Bailey” that resulted in something useful. Which would certainly explain why we’ve never heard of the real Justin Bailey. The problem is, unless the theoretical friend or relative of the family ever speaks up, that’s basically the end of the road.
I tried to contact suspect Justin Bailey – as well as other Justin Bailey in the greater Louisville area to cover my bases – but unsurprisingly, I was ignored. After all, if you had never heard of Metroid, why would you want to respond to a weirdo claiming to be something called a “game historian”?
Imagine: Justin Bailey might not realize he is Justin bailey.