Cracking the Konami Code
Welcome to the legendary Konami Code! You have probably seen this mysterious symbol streak ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA on T-shirts or mugs of your geeky friends, wondering what it meant. Or maybe it appeared in a TV series, but you missed the reference since you have never played anything designed by Konami. Well, it’s time to figure out what this mysterious symbol pattern means and how it can be used.
What is the Konami Code?
Let’s unveil the mystery – this code is a cheat sequence that can be utilized on most Konami games (hence the name), as well as some other projects. Eventually, it became so popular that TV shows featured it, and websites added it as an “Easter egg” for curious users to find. It is widely believed that Contra was the first game to feature the code, but the truth is that it appeared earlier.
The code was first used in the 1986 release of Gradius, a cosmic-themed shooter for the Nintendo Entertainment System. One of the game’s developers, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, decided that the game was too difficult, so he included a loophole to help the testers. After entering the sequence using the controller when the game was paused the player received all available power-ups. The mistake was discovered after the release, but developers decided to leave it there, as removing it could result in new bugs and glitches.
The sequence was easy enough to remember for testers and simultaneously sufficiently hard to enter accidentally during the gameplay for unsuspecting users. However, as with many cheat codes of that time, the developer just forgot to remove it from the final release, and soon after curios gamers discovered it. The secret knowledge quickly spread by word of mouth, and by the time Contra was released, the code became almost a tradition.
The Contra Incarnation
Soon enough Konami employees admitted the usefulness of the code, so it was included in almost every game for testing purposes in its standard form.
The code became so popular after the Contra release that it’s even called “the Contra code” sometimes probably due to the fact it saved many computers, children-parents relationships, and nerves.
Contra was not an easy game even with the extra cheat lives, but with the standard three required no less than a perfect walkthrough was needed. Any other gaming platform allowed you to have as many lives as you had quarters in your pocket, but the strict and unforgiving NES gave you only three attempts. Probably the first users to discover the sequence were the desperate NES players, uncontrollably mashing the buttons after yet another death.
To Start or Not to Start?
There’s an ancient legend saying that two gamer buddies are still arguing whether the Konami code has START or SELECT at the end. It’s time to shed light on this mysterious issue.
The code became so popular that it was even featured in the first “Classified Information” section, dedicated to loopholes, bugs, and cheats, in Nintendo Power magazine.
- This publication popularized the following version of the code: ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA START, labeling it as a secret sequence that gives you thirty lives in Contra.
Many gamers believe that START is an integral part of the code. However, it is merely there to denote the beginning of the game. As we already mentioned, a player had to pause Gradius, the very first game, to use the code to activate it. So START was simply added to remind users to unpause the game, but it did nothing regarding functionality – later iterations of the cheat code don’t require the start button at all.
- Another favorite version of this code features SELECT at the end.
Some players believe that this is the only code that will grant you in-game perks. Here Contra is again to blame for the misconception. The confusion was caused because of the two-player mode required to press SELECT after entering the code to grant thirty lives to both participants.
- However, pressing the button before or after the sequence makes no difference. Now you can bet with all your friends that the one and only Konami code is ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA.
On and On It Goes
After the code was featured in the Nintendo Power, it solidified its place in video gaming history. The cheat sequence survived several console generations, and still works in more than 100 Konami games. What is even more surprising, other developers caught on and decided to integrate the code in their projects.
Now more than 150 games feature the code that gives you unique in-game abilities.
As the fame of the code grew, so did its number of projects that included it. Reportedly there are more than thirty projects, including websites, TV shows, web-design, and other software, and the number is growing. This code didn’t only shape the Konami product line, but also altered the whole gaming culture and left its impact in the mainstream media.
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