The Konami Code, i.e. the Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A was often what gave you an edge in a life and death situation in a video game in the 1980s.
If you press those button sequences in the right order, you can unlock the cheats and win games. This code, in recent times, has become a wider pop-culture reference, and you might wonder how it started.
Contra Made It Famous
When the Konami Code was first initiated, it began as a cheat code which makes games a lot easier to play. Gradius for the NES, which was developed by a Japanese developer, Konami, in 1986, was the first-ever game to feature the Konami Code. Several helpful power-ups were offered if you stopped the game and entered the code.
In an interview in 2003, the inventor of the Konami code, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, said that he created the code to make play-testing the game easier for him, as Gradius was a really difficult game to play.
There was another Konami game, released for the NES in 1988, called Contra and this game is probably the main reason that the Konami Code became legendary. This game with gun shooters and great graphics is very difficult to play. In this game, if you would enter the Konami Code at the title screen just before the game began, the player gets 30 extra lives, which then helps the average player to at least go past the first stage.
In the late 1980s, cheat codes that gave you draw more fun out of a game were a big deal, especially at a time when each NES game retailed for around $40 each. Every year you could only get a handful of new games and if you were stuck in a game that was very difficult, it could be a very frustrating situation.
But then, the magazines and books came to the rescue. Conta's Konami Code was introduced to a large American audience as part of its "Classified Information" column by Nintendo Power, a famous video game magazine, in the first issue in 1988, and gamers remembered that.
Examples of the Konami Code in Gaming
Over the past decades, the Konami Code has been supported by dozens of titles and not just the ones by NES games.
Usually, the games which are not on Nintendo systems but used the code needed a minor modification to the Konami Code. For instance, O is commonly canceled and X commonly confirms in the U.S. on the PlayStation. Thus in the PlayStation the Konami Code is Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, O, X.
Let us look at a few examples to get an idea of the breadth of Konami Code support in games over the decades:
- Gradius (NES): Pause the game during gameplay and enter Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. Except for Laser, Double, and Speed Up your ship will get all power-ups.
- Contra (NES): Enter the Konami Code then Start on the title screen, and it will give you 30 extra lives.
- Gyruss (NES): You could enter the code in a reverse manner (A, B, Right, Left, Right, Left, Down, Down, Up, Up), you’ll get 30 extra lives.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: You could just pause the game and enter Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. This will fully replenish your health.
There are many such games that use the fundamentals of the Konami Code to give you some cheat benefits.
Popular Culture And The Konami Code
The code has become a part of a wide pop-cultural reference in recent years, as a generation of gamers has grown up with the Konami Code memorized. Today, you might find the code or references of it printed on t-shirts and merchandise and even referenced in films like Wreck-It-Ralph.
In 2013, you could input a modified version of the Konami Code on your remote controls and access a hidden setting screen on a version of Netflix. And there are certain websites where if you enter the code, you can activate an Easter egg.
There is absolutely no doubt that the Konami Code, in its process of unlocking special features in games, has unlocked a secret place in our hearts and we will surely keep finding more and more references of it in the coming years