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32 Cheat Codes
The Many Uses for the Konami Code
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 23, 2016   |   Episode 30 (Show Archive)  

   
Welcome to the 32 Dangerous Cheat Codes, a brand new series that will run daily between November 24 and December 25. Join us as we discuss the hazardous ramifications of some of your favorite cheat codes. Today we're looking at the long, storied history of the Konami code. From Gradius to Contra to Grand Theft Auto V, this code has been used hundreds of times in some of the biggest games of all time. Does that make it the best code ever? Find out in this brand new episode of the 32 Dangerous Cheat Codes.


It's been a rough couple years for Konami. In just the last twelve months we've seen the veteran publisher cancel one of the generation's most anticipated games, get into an ugly fight with a star developer and dramatically scale back their video game division. Say what you will about how they've run their business, but this is sad news. Not only does this mean an uncertain future for popular franchises like Castlevania, Silent Hill and Contra, but it means we've likely seen the last of the Konami code. At least in an official sense.

First created in the mid-1980s, up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right B and A is one of the most memorable cheat codes of all time, and it has wound up in literally dozens of Konami's most popular games. It's probably best known for unlocking all the weapons in Gradius and awarding players with 30 lives in Contra, but this cheat has found its way into more games than you realize. Here are some of my favorites.

The Konami code can be used to make Castlevania: Bloodlines harder, make Gradius II easier and replenish your life in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan. You'll discover a level select in Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Sports Challenge, unearth a new fighter in Rave Master, reveal the bonus character skins in Rocket Knight, enable mirror matches in Raging Fighter and unlock Simon Belmont in Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance.

The original Contra wasn't the only time the Konami code was used to give players 30 lives, as it's also present in Life Force, Contra 4, Gyruss and Gradius II on the Famicom. When it wasn't 30 lives, the code was usually good for ten, as you saw in Super C, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time and Dentana!! TwinBee.

And the Konami code wasn't always used for good, as is the case with Gradius III on the Super NES. Instead of giving us bonus weapons or extra lives, the cheat literally blows up the Vic Viper on the spot.

Other times the code would be used to deliver a fake-out message; mocking the player for trying to cheat. Attempting to use the code in Akumajo Special: Boku Dracula-Kun will tell the player "there's nothing here." Trying the code in the Japanese version of The Manhattan Project will get you a message thanking you for purchasing the game. And even Naked Snake will have a unique remark if you enter the code in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater.

Beyond games, we've seen the Konami code show up all over pop culture. It played a part in Wreck-It Ralph, show up in Archer, find its way on the Scott Pilgram app, and works with a number of popular websites, including Digg.com, BuzzFeed and Dango Design. And then there's the song from the Deftones called U, U, D, D, L, R, L, R, A, B, Select, Start, an obvious nod to the classic code, despite it getting the button order wrong.

These days the code has a life of its own, and I have a hunch it's going to continue to show up in games no matter what Konami decides to do. By my count, the cheat has found its way into more than 100 games, making it the most prolific code of all time. It's one of the only cheat codes to break into mainstream pop culture, and it continues to be relevant to this day. I think there's an argument to be made that the Konami code is the greatest video game cheat of all time. Do you disagree?
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