Konami has revealed that one of its most famed employees, Kazuhisa Hashimoto, had passed away earlier this week. He was 61 years old.
We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the “Konami Code”.— Konami (@Konami) February 26, 2020
Our thoughts are with Hashimoto-san’s family and friends at this time. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/vQijEQ8lU2
The Japanese game developer is best known for creating the “Konami Code,” a cheat code that was originally featured in numerous Konami games. Players could earn extra lives, power-ups, and other bonuses by entering up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, and start.
The code made its debut in 1986’s Gradius, one of the world’s best-known scrolling shooter franchises. Entering the Konami Code in that game would gift the player all of the Vic Viper’s power-ups except for Speed Up, Double, and Laser.
The popularity of the code was later cemented by 1988’s alien shooter, Contra. In that title, players could earn 30 lives by entering the Konami Code at the title screen.
During a 2003 interview, Hashimoto claimed that there wasn’t really a story behind the Konami Code. It was merely designed to be easily usable/memorable.
“There isn’t [a story], really. Because I was the one who was going to be using it, I made sure it was easy to remember,” explained Hashimoto. “The game took around half a year to develop, and, at the time, putting the code together was like an entertaining puzzle. ‘How on earth am I going to be able to fit these passwords into the program?’ I’d ask myself. Gradius saw an incredibly poor reception, however.”
Indeed, most of us who grew up in the 8-bit gaming era have this code memorized – whether intentionally or not. RIP, Hashimoto-san.