Cheat codes were initially a tool used by developers to help test video games back in the 1980s. One developer at Japanese company Konami created his own code that would become the most famous video game cheat code, and it's still used today.
Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the creator of the Konami Code, died Tuesday at the age of 61. Konami confirmed his passing Wednesday on Twitter, after the news was first tweeted by composer and sound designer Yuji Takenouchi earlier in the day.
In 1986, while working on a port for the Konami arcade game Gradius, Hashimoto developed a cheat code for testing. The cheat became known as the Konami Code and has been an Easter egg used by game developers ever since.
To use the code, players have to press Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, and Start on a controller. In the case of Gradius, this unlocked all the available weapons and upgrades for a player. The code was left in by the developers when Gradius was released in Japan on the Famicom and on the NES in the US.
It was the 1987 game Contra for the NES that made the code known far and wide among gamers. Players who used the Konami Code got 30 lives instead of the default three, which was helpful considering the game's difficulty.
Konami used the code across several franchises, including Castlevania, Metal Gear and DanceDanceRevolution. Other developers have since used the code as well, with one of the recent examples being Epic Games' . Players were able to play a special minigame during the in 2019 by entering the Konami Code.
Game companies weren't the only ones using the code. Google placed the Konami Code on the back of controllers for its cloud-gaming service Stadia. The tech giant also used the code in its . Facebook also made use of the , but it appears to have since been removed.
Originally published Feb. 26, 10:33 a.m. PT.
Update, 11:20 a.m.: Includes additional background details.