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What Is the Konami Code?

By Lakshmi Sandhana
Updated May 16, 2024
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The konami code is one of the oldest cheat codes in existence and originally appeared in video games released by Konami. It made its first appearance in 1986 and has been implemented in many non-konami games since then. Also known as the contra code, the contra command and the 30 lives code, this code unlocks unique features in the games that recognize it. It's a simple code that consists of pressing the sequence up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, and start on the keyboard. Many variations of the konami code have also become popular over time.

Known in Japan as the konami command, it was first seen in the scrolling spaceflight shooter game called Gradius that was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the game's developer, wrote the code when working on the game because he found the game play quite difficult. He incorporated the code after testing it and the game went into commercial production. When used in Gradius, the player could unlock a set of power ups that they otherwise would only gain slowly through game play. When the code was entered backward, it gave the player 30 more lives, and these combined features skyrocketed the popularity of this game.

Gamers in North America caught on to the use of the konami code with the hit game Contra, which continues to be quite a popular video game. Entering the code in Contra gives players 30 more lives similar to entering it reversed in Gradius. Players who discovered and shared it started calling it the contra code, and the name stuck. While there have been more than 100 konami games that used the code and many non-konami ones that recognize it, it is still known as the contra code. The code has become an iconic symbol of gaming culture, with it being printed on T-shirts and other items.

The konami code is used by many web developers to unlock cool Easter eggs or bonus features on their websites. It involves incorporating a piece of code into the script of the site, and any user who enters the code is surprised with a secret feature. Entering the konami code in a browser window may result in the user being redirected to a new page or hearing a piece of music.

Other features that can be unlocked include images being displayed, an alert box, or text being replaced or flipped. Some websites use the code short term as a gag. Some of the funniest examples include ESPN using the konami code at one time to display rainbows and unicorns on their website and Newsweek changing the headlines on the page to news of a zombie attack.

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