Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a video game developer most known for creating the “Konami Code,” has died. Konami confirmed the news on its Twitter account yesterday, along with the touching tribute seen above. He leaves behind a legacy found in dozens of games, programs, and even some movies.
If you’re a gamer, you probably know the Konami Code by heart: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. You may not be aware of its origins, though. In the late ’80s, Kazuhisa Hashimoto worked to port Gradius to the NES, but he ran into one significant problem. It was too hard.
He couldn’t get through the game easily enough to playtest it, so he added the Konami Code to make the game easier. And then he forgot to remove it before the game went to retail. Players found it, loved it, and it became part of our culture. You can find the code in dozens of games, from Contra (where it added 30 lives) to Rocket League (where it changes the aesthetic of the menu screen).
It even showed up in Wreck-It Ralph, a movie that takes place inside video games. I first encountered a variation of the code on Super Nintendo, in Street Fighter II. Usually, only one person could use a character, but with a secret code, both players could fight with the same character.
If nothing else, Kazuhisa Hashimoto can rest easy knowing he prevented two brothers from fighting in the real world over who got to use Ken. May he rest in peace.