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The Creator Of The Konami Code Has Died

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start. From famously granting 30 lives in the NES shoot 'em up Contra to providing bonuses in titles as varied as Dance Dance Revolution and Silent Hill, the Konami Code contributed to a significant era in gaming history. Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the man who created the code that entertained an entire generation of players, has died.

Yuji Takenouchi, a sound designer who has worked on several Konami projects, first reported his friend's passing. Born on Nov. 15, 1958, Hashimoto died at the age of 61.

"We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the 'Konami Code,'" wrote Konami in response to the news. "Our thoughts are with Hashimoto-san's family and friends at this time. Rest In Peace."

Though the Konami Code earned a reputation for its inclusion in Contra, the cheat first appeared in Gradius, a scrolling-shooter Konami ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1986. After finding the game too difficult during testing, Hashimoto created the code to make Gradius more manageable, providing himself with a full set of power-ups.

"I hadn't played [Gradius] that much and obviously couldn't beat it myself, so I put in the Konami Code," Hashimoto divulged in a 2003 interview. "Because I was the one who was going to be using it, I made sure it was easy to remember."

Though not intended to be part of the design for the final version of the game, Hashimoto forgot to remove the code before launch. Players discovered it and it spread through the gaming community, prompting Konami to include it in future sequels and spin-offs within the franchise. It has also appeared in several other IPs created by the studio, including CastlevaniaTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Metal Gear Solid.

As one of the world's most famous cheat codes, the Konami Code has become a key facet of gaming culture. Beyond Konami games, it has appeared in a wide variety of media, including Fortnite, League of Legends, Rocket LeagueNetflix, Twitch, and children's' toys. It's even referenced in Disney's Wreck-it Ralph. Faced with this legacy, several gamers honored his memory on Twitter after learning of his death.

"Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Start is everywhere in modern culture, from Contra to BuzzFeed to Google to Fortnite," said Gene Park of the Washington Post. "It's the code that helped everyone win."

"Just found out that Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the creator of the Konami Code, has passed away but his legacy will continue for as long as video games exist," tweeted one gamer.

"He is the creator of Konami code, your legacy will live forever sir, thanks for the great memories," wrote another.

Beyond Gradius, Hashimoto worked on a variety of titles at Konami during the '80s and '90s, including classics like Snatcher, Life Force, and ISS. Hashimoto started out making circuit boards for coin-operated games. One of his first projects at Konami was Track & Field, a sports video game that rose to prominence in the wake of the 1984 Olympic Games. Track & Field contained its own share of Easter eggs hidden by Hashimoto.

Hashimoto's focus shifted to porting arcade titles to the NES, a six-month process that involved a team of four people. According to the programmer, the Konami Code was inspired by the hidden commands in Atari's Xevious, which released in 1983. Though Hashimoto eventually left Konami, he looked back on those earlier years with fondness, describing it as "a time of personal growth."

It's clear the NES era had a big impact on Hashimoto's life. He was thankful for the smaller scale of the system, which allowed him to focus his efforts on every aspect of programming, a near impossible feat in modern development cycles. "I think I was really happy back then, compared to the young people these days who are making games for current-gen systems."

"I feel a little bit sorry for people today when I think back to how I was able to influence all the aspects of game design. Even though I've gone on to participate in most systems' launch titles, from Gradius 3 on the Super Nintendo, and Parodius on the PC, to games for the PS2," Hashimoto said. "I think I like the Nintendo era the best of all."

Though Hashimoto passed on too soon, he left a lasting mark on the world. His work, including the iconic Konami Code, will influence gaming and other media for years to come.