Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the video game maker who created the most famous cheat code in video games – the “Konami Code” – has died.
The series of button pushes on a controller – Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A – made its way into many video games over the years as a tribute to Hashimoto and a way for players to explore games and find Easter eggs.
Game publisher Konami
and sound designer Yuji Takenouchi (“Dark Souls,” “Ace Combat X: Skies of Deception”) tweeted Wednesday about the producer’s passing at age 61.
“Programmer Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the creator of the Konami command “Top, Bottom, Left, Right, Left, and Right BA”, died last night. We pray for the souls,” Takenouchi’s translated tweet read.
Konami’s statement read, “We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the ‘Konami Code.’ Our thoughts are with Hashimoto-san’s family and friends at this time. Rest In Peace.”
The “Konami Code” arose out of the Konami arcade game “Gradius,” released in 1985 in Japan and a year later in the USA. Hashimoto, who programmed a version of the arcade game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, said the game was too tough for him to finish, so he inserted a special code to allow him to cheat when needed.
“The arcade version of Gradius is really difficult, right? I never played it that much, and there was no way I could finish the game, so I inserted the so-called Konami code,” he told Japanese magazine Dorimaga, according to an archived story on IGN.com.
The code remained in the home version of the game, and players eventually found it. Since then, game makers have put it into numerous games, and it was even referenced in the animated Disney film “Wreck-It Ralph.”
“The code was made famous by the 1988 shooter game ‘Contra,’ where the Konami code gave players 30 lives in the also-notoriously-difficult game,” wrote Gene Park on The Washington Post’s Launcher video game news site. “The code’s impact extends beyond gaming. It’s become a common code to find Easter eggs and other tricks on websites like BuzzFeed and Google.”
The Konami Code was used in other “Gradius” and “Contra” games, as well as in “Castlevania,” “Metal Gear” and “Dance Dance Revolution” games “to deliver anything from hidden songs and higher difficulties through to Solid Snake chastising the player with a very snippy ‘Stop fooling around, kid!’,” wrote Matt Gardner on Forbes.com.
“Our deepest condolences and best wishes are with those close to Hashimoto at this time,” he wrote. “Gamers everywhere are undoubtedly saluting him right now, not least because of a simple, honest admission that we’re regularly not as good as games demand us to be–an admission that helped millions of others get through those difficult moments in life.”
Many fans expressed their thoughts about Hashimoto’s passing – and his legacy – on Twitter. The “Konami Code” amounted to “a pop culture moment,” tweeted journalist/video game, TV and film developer Mike Mika.
“Today, we have lost a man who has done something small yet impactful in the gaming industry,” tweeted video game fan Natalia. “Rest In Peace, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the creator of the Konami code.”
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.