Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the programmer of the famous Konami Code, died this week at the age of 61. His code, ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B, A, Start, has lived on for over three decades and continues to be a comical Easter egg in many games today.
Hashimoto’s former employer, Konami, released a statement today confirming his death and sending condolences to Hashimoto’s family: “We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto,” Konami said, calling him a “deeply talented producer.”
The Konami Code first appeared in 1986 in the NES port of Gradius. The code gave players access to a number of power-ups, making it easier to play the game. Hashimoto originally created the cheat code because he felt the game was too difficult to play during its development cycle.
Of course, Gradius is most likely not the game that introduced most people to the famous cheat code. It was later popularized by the 1988 NES run-and-gun game Contra, in which the code grants players 30 additional lives if they enter it at the title screen. The code later appeared in other Konami games, including 1991’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, various entries in the Dance Dance Revolution series, 2001’s Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, and 2010’s Castlevania: Lords of Shadows.
The code has also been used in games beyond Konami such as the first Mario Party. It continued to show up in other games like BioShock Infinite and Borderlands 2 as well as even more recent titles such as Anthem, in which entering the code at the title screen will make a slight change to the game’s soundtrack. In Fortnite, the code provided a Space Invaders-style mini-game for a limited time ahead of the release of Chapter 2.