There is an entire generation of people imprinted with the phrase: “up up down down left right left right B A start.” If they were playing video games in the 80s and 90s, they’ll quietly nod their head in acknowledgement. That’s the Konami Code, and it was created by Konami programmer Kazuhisa Hashimoto. Hashimoto, unfortunately, passed away last night.
A lot of old games were extremely difficult, to the point that they became unbeatable unless you relied on a cheat code to hand over extra lives and other bonuses. These codes were often hidden and mysterious, quickly becoming whispered about on playgrounds full of kids anxious to head home to their games. No code was more famous than the Konami Code.
The Konami Code first appeared in a 1986 port of Gradius to the NES, but it truly came into its own after the release of 1988’s Contra, a brutally difficult 2D action game. I do not think I ever played Contra without first entering the Konami Code because it didn’t seem beatable.
The Konami Code became a staple of Konami games, both as a legitimate cheat code and an easter egg. It even spread far beyond Konami’s own games, unlocking little secrets in places like Twitch and Netflix, a random kids toy made by Fisher Price, and so many more.