Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the creator of the Konami Code, has passed away at the age of 79.
The news was shared by composer Yuji Takenouchi who stated on Twitter that Hashimoto had passed away. There is no word at this time regarding his cause of death. We’d like to share our deepest condolences with Hashimoto’s family, friends, and all who knew him. We hope they find the strength to make it through this difficult time.
As Takenouchi and many others have been quick to point out, Hashimoto’s greatest legacy may just be the creation of the infamous “Konami Code.” The story goes that Hashimoto was working on a port of the arcade shooter Gradius in 1985 when he discovered that the game was far too difficult to test. So, he decided to create a programming input that would grant him and other testers all available power-ups. Because they wanted the code to be easy to remember, Hashimoto went with a simple series of button inputs: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start.
Such programming tactics were common at the time, but what was uncommon was that the team forgot to remove the input before shipping the title. They decided there was no great way to remove it post-release, so fans soon slowly began to discover they could cheat the game via these commands. It was the first cheat code that many gamers ever used.
Interestingly, though, the Konami Code didn’t really achieve widespread infamy until the release of the NES version of Contra. In fact, the code was known in many circles for years as the “Contra Code” due to how many people relied on it to actually beat that game.
Since that time, the Konami Code has been featured in many Konami titles as well as a variety of other games. Actually, it’s even managed to transcend the gaming medium itself and is regularly used as an Easter egg for websites and other programs. It’s really become a rare piece of video game shorthand that is known by a variety of people even if they don’t necessarily think of themselves as gamers.
At a time of seemingly endless DLC, the Konami Code is also fondly remembered by many as the symbol of a time when unlocking in-game advantages was about whether you knew the right button combinations and passwords and not whether or not you were willing to pay enough money.