I don't think it shuts the theory down. Both ideas can be true. They could have made it (rediculously) difficult while also leaking it to the press once Sonic & Knuckles was getting close to being revealed to the public as a way to create renewed interest in Sonic 3. I believe the latter for sure. I believe Sega knew exactly what they were doing. Those extra levels were VERY interesting when the level select was first revealed, as was being able to use debug mode to explore unseen areas of stages. For me, it created a Mortal Kombat level of mystery. However, I think it was unnecessary to make it difficult to enter the cheat, because who would honestly accidently enter those eight buttons, in that order, in that 1.3 second window? Nobody! I think it's more likely that it was the result of poor and rushed programming. I believe it qualifies as a bug to not register the button presses as one would normally expect. If Yuji Naka breaks out of jail and is able to talk to us on Twitter without being caught, maybe we'd be able to ask him about the code. I'm sure he'd have some very interesting information to share about it. Surely it wouldn't be breaking any NDAs.