How’d the Konami Code Come About? Get the Story Straight From the Horse’s (Or Developer’s) Mouth

on January 16, 2012 6:15 PM

Have you ever made it through Contra with just the three lives you’re granted at the game’s outset? I can only think of one instance in which I accomplished the feat myself. And even then I’m pretty sure it was just a dream. Anywho, GlitterBerri has transcribed a Japanese interview with none other than Katsuhisa Hashimoto, creator of the infamous Konami Code. It may have been popularized by Contra, but gamers worth their weight in NES cartridges will tell you it was Gradius that introduced that now-famous button sequence.

Apparently the code came about because it was too tough for the game’s creators to finish it. “I hadn’t played that much and obviously couldn’t beat it myself, so I put in the Konami Code,” Hashimoto said.

The interview bears some other interesting tidbits, like the fact Hashimoto came up with the code’s simple structure so that, again, he himself could remember it. Also of note is how much licensed properties moved games back then. Konami produced 1 million copies of Gradius but only sold about half of them. Its Goonies game, however, did much better than anticipated.

The interview was conducted quite a few years ago — Sony’s PlayStation 2 was quite a hot commodity, you know — but was only recently translated into English. Still, it’s interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at the development of such classic titles as Gradius, The Goonies and Castlevania.

Oh. And if you didn’t already know: Up-up, down-down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start. C’mon. The Ataris even titled one of their songs after it.


 /  Staff Writer
Eder is a journalism major at the University of Oregon and copy chief of Flux, the School of Journalism and Communication's flagship magazine. When he's not playing video games or writing about them, Eder enjoys going to concerts, walking the UO campus with his trusty iPod, James McCloud, and climbing steep hills in running shoes. His favorite games include Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong Country 2, Bioshock and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.