What Is The Konami Code? (2024)

Some elements of gaming culture and trivia fade into obscurity almost immediately, but for a select few, they’re launched into the stratosphere, etched permanently in the annals of the pop culture zeitgeist. One such aspect of gaming culture that’s been cemented in many a nerd’s brain is the Konami Code, a sequence of button inputs that’s been replicated, parodied and honored in so many ways throughout the years.

If you’re new to gaming culture, or you’re just doing some research to impress your mates at the next pub quiz night, here’s everything you need to know about the Konami Code.

What Is The Konami Code?

What Is The Konami Code? (1)

The Konami Code is an 11 button press sequence that’s become synonymous with titles from the Japanese developer/publisher Konami. While the effect changes from instance to instance, the result is usually something helpful for the player, or some kind of Easter Egg designed to amplify the player’s enjoyment. The code itself is as follows:

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start/Select

Input can vary depending on the console and game, with some versions switching between start and select, some ommitting the final input entirely or others using left and right bumpers instead of the d-pad. There have also been instances, such as in The Incredibles, where the Konami Code is used in its alphabetical form, making the code UUDDLRLRBAS.

Where Was The First Konami Code Usage?

Many often associate the Konami Code with the game Contra, but the first recorded implementation of the Konami Code was actually in the NES game Gradius back in 1986. Inputting the 11-input code while the game was paused gave players a ship fully kitted out with power-ups, allowing players to take on the difficult game with a bit of a helping hand, one which would be sorely needed.

The code itself was created by Kazuhisa Hashimoto during the development of Gradius, with Hashimoto implementing the code during testing because of the game’s difficulty. The code was meant to be removed at some point during the development of Gradius, but for whatever reason, the code remained all the way to Gradius being pushed into mass production. At that point, the development team figured removing the code might cause more issues in the long run, like unforeseen glitches.

The rest, as they say, was history.

Of course though, the most iconic iteration of the Konami Code came from the game Contra, which launched in 1987. Entering the code at the Press Start screen would immediately give the player 30 lives at the start of the game, which for the average gamer was basically necessary if they wanted to see the end credits of Contra. The code became so prevalent and popular that some people simply just refer to it as the Contra Code instead.

Where Else Has The Konami Code Been Used?

What Is The Konami Code? (2)

The Konami Code has become a video game Easter Egg mainstay ever since the 1980s, with Konami games obviously leading the charge on including the code across various titles. Castlevania, Silent Hill, Metal Gear Solid, Zone of the Enders and Rocket Knight have all featured uses or references of the Konami Code, whether they were to unlock hidden bonuses, give players more help or just to hear Snake say a cool line. Even Dance Dance Revolution got in on the act, adding the code into various games and even featuring a song called 30 Lives in DDR X.

Still, it being called the “Konami Code” hasn’t stopped others from including loving homages to the input sequence in their projects, specifically for those games that have some connection to Konami. For instance, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night has an unlockable 1986 Mode which modifies the game to feel more like its spiritual predecessor, Castlevania, which can be done by entering the Konami Code at the main menu. Meanwhile, Dead By Daylight’s Silent Hill collaboration let players unlock an equippable charm by entering the code while having a Silent Hill character selected on the main menu.

The Konami Code has also become a shorthand reference for gaming and nerd culture in general, featuring in films like Wreck-It Ralph, services like Facebook, Twitch, Discord and others, or even in toys like the Fisher-Price controllers. The YouTube channel UpUpDownDown, founded by WWE wrestler Xavier Woods (real name Austin Creed) also makes reference to the iconic code with its name. Even the Bank of Canada got involved at one point, allowing users to enter the code on their website. There’s even a chiptune version of the National Anthem, which is pretty silly.

Some people might have other cheats that have been seared into the memory, like how to spawn a jetpack in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, or how to give yourself lots of money in The Sims, but when it comes to global reach and awareness, there’s never been another like the Konami Code.

READ MORE:5 Konami Remakes We Want To See Next

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What Is The Konami Code? (2024)
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