Happy Birthday Konami Code!

With the Konami Code having its Birthday this week we took a look back at the history of this infamous cheat code.

The code is entered by press Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A. Sometimes this is followed by Start or Enter. The B and A buttons are altered for game controllers without these buttons. For example on PlayStation these buttons are replaced by X and O.


In 1985, Gradius was released, an arcade side scrolling shooter that would soon go down in history for the part it plays in the Konami Code’s history. A year after its release it was ported to the NES by developer Kazuhisa Hashimoto. However when testing the game through he found it too difficult to play so put a code in the game that would give the player a full set of power-ups that are normally gained gradually throughout the game. When the game was fully tested, Kazuhisa forgot to take the code out of the game and as a result was still present in the final released version.

It doesn’t take gamers long to find that which should be hidden in video games and soon it was discovered and shared.

The code would become so popular that it was included in the series’ sequels and spin-offs. As a joke, in the SNES game Gradius III the code actually destroys the players ship. Replacing left, right with the L and R triggers gives the player all the powers instead. More recently, Gradius Rebirth was released on the Wii and was fully equipped with the code with the 1 and 2 buttons replacing A and B, respectively.

Though it made its first appearence in Gradius is was the release of Contra in 1988 for the NES that gained the code popularity with its inclusion. It soon became known as the “Contra Code” or “999 Lives Code”.

Both Gradius and Contra were developed by Konami so it became an inside joke to have it in more of their games. It would then be known as the Konami Code and can be found in some shape or form in most of their games.

Examples of Konami Game Uses

Castlevania has the Konami Code included in every release of the game. It doesn’t provide invincibility or unlimited lives but it’s more of a nod to hardcore gamers who understand the story behind it. In Bloodlines on the Sega Mega Drive the code will unlock “Expert” difficulty or in the PS3/XBOX360 version of Lords of Shadow, the code will bring up a Cheat Menu.

In Metal Gear Solid 2, entering the username as UUDDLRLRBA will unlock all characters and missions. Physically entering the code during the final credits will make Solid Snake say “What do you think you’re doing?” or “Stop fooling around kid”.

When battling The End boss in Metal Gear Solid 3, he hides in the woods in an attempt to snipe the player. Entering the code at the map screen will reveal his location, however this only works on the normal difficulty.

Batman Returns on the SNES allowed the player to easily adjust the number of lives via controller 1 when the code was entered on controller 2 in the options menu.

After beating Silent Hill 3 on the PS2 or PC, entering the code will make a supporting character, Douglas Cartland, appear in every cutscene. In his underwear.

Examples from Non-Konami Games

To unlock 1999 mode in BioShock Infinite, you must first complete the game. That is, however, unless you enter a slight variation of the code at the main menu.

Naughty Dog added the code to Crash Bandicoot 3 on the original Playstation that allows the player access to a Spyro the Dragon demo when entered at the start menu

On the title screen of Knuckles in Sonic 2 for the Sega Mega Drive, the player could level select when entering the code correctly

All of the playable wrestlers could be unlocked in Legends of Wrestling on Gamecube/XBOX/PS2 with the Konami Code.

Mortal Kombat 3 on SNES gave the player access to a “Kool Stuff” menu when the code was entered. Entering the code backwards gave access to a “Kooler Stuff” menu.

In Price of Persia: The Two Thrones on PS2 the code gave the player a chainsaw as their secondary weapon.

A more well known use of the code is the ability to unlock Spider-Man as a playable character in Tony Hawks Pro Skater 2 on GameBoy Advance.

Other Uses

The Konami code has found its place outside of video games. Some websites include the code to add hidden easter eggs, for example, what would happen if you tried to enter the code here, right now?

In an episode of Family Guy, Peter references the code when they’re stuck in space, claiming it’s a way for them to get unlimited lives.

Wreck-It-Ralph, the 2012 animated movie, is set inside a video game and the villain King Candy enters the code on a NES controller to unlock a door.

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