Happy 30th anniversary to the Konami Code!

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You ever wanted to be a real gamer? There’s plenty of ways to prove yourselves on the mean streets of the industry today. Thumb blisters, 100% achievements and burning your season pass are a few examples of how to get mad props from the gaming hood. But nothing proves your cred in the NES hood, like knowing the Konami code. It’s a phrase, a series of inputs that do more than just throw an extra 30 lives in your pocket.

It’s one of the oldest memes in gaming history, traced all the way back to a simple phrase: Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start. You memorise that, and you’re set for life. And it’s a legend which began thirty years ago. Rewind back in time, and you’d most likely think that it was the original Contra that had the honour of introducing the Konami Code to audiences.

WRONG.

The Konami Code

It was actually Gradius, released back in 1986 that made the code a part of history. Created by Kazuhisa Hashimoto while work on the home port of Gradius was ticking along, the Konami Code was used to make testing a bit easier for the staff involved. The first time that it was used, players would gain a complete set of power-ups from the start instead of having to earn them.

Here’s where the legend really started however: Hashimoto forgot to remove the code from the finished game. Players somehow managed to discover it, and in an age before the internet truly existed, word of mouth spread it around. Konami, still valuing their players back then, decided to create a rolling tradition out of the mythic code and began including it in more games. Unless you played Gradius III on the Super NES however, in which case you’d self-destruct when you activated the code.

Contra is the game where the Konami Code really took off however. Hard as nails and with only a handful of lives to help you survive all manner of alien nightmare fuel. But if you did the Konami Code shuffle, you’d get a whole 30 extra lives to play around with. And it was glorious. The code was firmly entrenched within the gaming collective conscience by then, popping up in Konami games such as Castlevania, Dance Dance Revolution, Metal Gear Solid and Zone Of The Enders. Seriously, a ton of games. Here’s a list of them.

You could also find the Konami Code in non-Konami titles. Tetris, Sonic Chaos, Resident Evil 2 and Mortal Kombat 3 all featured a few rewards based on the cod input. Again, here’s another list of games which played along with Konami. But outside of gaming, the Konami Code was strong. Numerous websites have easter eggs dedicated to the code hidden inside of them. Marvel.com probably had the best one, as inputting the string of commands used to prompt a Deadpool squirrel to pop up.

Marvel

So here’s to the Konami Code. Famous for giving players 30 extra lives and far more, over a 30 year career of ups, downs, lefts, rights and a B A.

Last Updated: April 26, 2016

Darryn Bonthuys

Word-slinger at Critical Hit. Inventor of the macho Swiss gym chocolate known as Testoblerone. That's...that's about it really.

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