The Man behind the Konami Code

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, this code is known to many as the Konami code, and every gamer who grew up in the 80s, 90s and even the 2000s will surely recognize this by heart or in some cases, through muscle memory. And it is all thanks to this man, Kazuhisa Hashimoto.

Hashimoto started working at Konami in 1981 along with other college graduates, but during that period, Konami was focusing more on coin-operated machines and not video games, so Hashimoto helped in developing circuit boards for these machines. It wasn’t until the next few years where Konami finally expanded their portfolio to arcade games and eventually to the home consoles, and Hashimoto was assigned to work on the console games. His first work for a video game was Track & Field which took six months to be developed by himself and another programmer. Hashimoto then got involved in other video game titles up until the 90s, including titles such as The Goonies, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja, Gungage, Crypt Killer and even Snatcher as he worked as Voice Linear Editor. He was also handled other Konami football titles such as International Superstar Soccer and Goal Storm.

The first game to have the famous cheat code was for the console port of Gradius for the NES in 1986. It was never intended for the code to be released to the public as Hashimoto initially added the code to help him finish the game easily. Gradius games were known to be brutal and difficult to defeat even in the arcades, and to help finish with his game tests, he temporarily added the code as he keeps on dying in the game. He mentioned that the reason behind the button combination is that it was easy for him to remember, by pausing the game and pressing the inputs in sequence (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A), it’ll give the ship a full set of power-ups to help him finish the levels at ease. Unfortunately, Hashimoto didn’t manage to remove the programming code on time as the game was then shipped and released to retail stores. Eventually, players discovered the hidden code and news has finally reached Konami office, which became popular to developers that some even added it to their games, hence earning the title Konami code as the majority of the games from Konami get this hidden code. The popularity of the Konami code didn’t become a worldwide hit until the release of Contra in 1988, where entering the code at the title screen, it will give players a ton of extra lives. The first issue of Nintendo Power in 1988 help spread the popularity of the cheat code to the West and continued to spread all around the world.

The Konami code has become a staple to some titles of Konami, from succeeding Gradius games to Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even Dance Dance Revolution, some may result to a different cheat or sometimes more of a prank for those who think they unlocked a cheat. Soon, the popularity of the code has reached to a ton of games outside of Konami even up to this day, heck you can even execute it in Fortnite from one of its recent in-game events. As the cheat code continues to spread, it wasn’t that long until it became a pop culture reference to many forms of media from movies, music to TV shows and even on mainstream websites, WWE wrestler Xavier Woods even called his YouTube gaming channel UpUpDownDown as a homage to it.

Wreck-it Ralph

 

Gravity Falls (look at the far right)

Sadly, Mr. Hashimoto passed away on February 25 at the age of 61, but his little cheat code has become a legacy that continues to spread up to this day, and any gamer of any age will surely know what his code is. And whenever someone reads or hears the up, up, down, down phrase, they know it’s a video game reference.

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