While modern video games and gamers are more obsessed with mods and, sometimes, hacking to modify behavior and gain an upper hand, the console games of old had very little room for after-market modification. Instead, game developers would often sneak in some obscure techniques to make gamers’ lives a bit easier or at least more amusing, a strategy that gave birth to an Easter egg culture that continues to exist today. One of the most popular and more usable Easter eggs is the now iconic Konami Code whose original programmer just died at 61 years of age.
“Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start.” Many gamers might be familiar with that obscure sequence of controls. Even newly-minted ones might have heard legends of the Konami Code. Referenced today as part of more modern hidden gems, the late Kazuhisa Hashimoto created the code to give players a break.
The games of decades past were notorious for their punishing difficulty and even their programmers consider them sometimes a tad unforgiving. Originally created to give Gradius players some power-ups, the Konami Code actually became a legend in the first Contra game. Entering the code at the start screen would give players an unprecedented, even by today’s standards, 30 lives.
Since then, the Konami Code, named more for the game publisher than its creator, appeared in other titles over the years, ranging from the usual side-scrolling beat ’em ups to Dance Dance Revolution. It has become somewhat of a mainstay in gaming culture, even if not always used, which is why Konami’s announcement is truly saddening.
Of course, the Konami Code will live on and will be Hashimoto-san’s lasting legacy to video game history. The code continues to be applied both to modern games and even to somewhat unrelated products and we’re sure to see more, especially as a tribute to its creator.