The Konami Code (コナミコマンド Konami Komando , lit. "Konami Command") is a special combination of buttons that appears in several Konami games. It was widely popularized due to its inclusion in the original Contra video game, where it allowed the player to obtain 30 free lives. Since it was first revealed, the code has become part of popular culture in general, even appearing in many non-Konami games and diverse media, such as clothing, advertisements and non-gaming related software.
The code was first used in the 1986 release of Gradius for the Nintendo Entertainment System but was popularized among North American players in the NES version of Contra, for which it was also dubbed both the "Contra Code" and "30 Lives Code", because of its nearly necessary use in the game.
The Konami Code was created by Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who was developing the home port of the 1985 arcade game Gradius, a horizontal scrolling shooter released on the NES in 1986. Finding the game too difficult to play through during testing, he created a cheat code to give the player a full set of power-ups (normally attained gradually throughout the game). The code was still present in the released version after Hashimoto forgot to remove it. Players discovered and shared the code. The Konami Code was thus included in the series' other sequels and spin-offs.
The code is usually entered during the title screen before the game demo begins, and the player must press the following sequence of buttons on the game controller to enable the cheat:
The original version of the cheat code was designed for the NES controller. The exact sequence varies from game to game and has been adapted to fit the button layouts of different video game consoles, mostly the A and B buttons. For example:
- Any code for a PlayStation controller, which uses shapes instead of letters, would use and instead of A and B respectively.
- In mobile phone games by Konami, the buttons are replaced by 5, 7, 3 on the numerical pad, which is the goroawase pronunciation for "Konami": 5 is pronounced go, 7 can be pronounced nana or just na for short, and the kanji for 3, 三, looks very much like the katakana sign for mi, namely ミ. Together, this becomes "go-na-mi".
- The code is usually followed by the press of a final button in order to activate it. This is generally assigned to the START button, but some games may change it for any other, like the SELECT button.
- Because the cursor ends at the same spot where it initially was before inputting the code, some games drop the press of the final button completely and the code is activated as soon as it is successfully entered, while starting the game at the same time.
- Some variations change some of the buttons pressed, like requiring to press the L and R bumper buttons instead of ← and →, or changing the order of how the final two buttons are pressed (i.e. A, B instead of B, A).
Usage in the Gradius series
- Gradius (NES) - The first game ever use of the code. Pausing the game and then entering the code activates all powerups except for Speed Up, Double, and Laser.
- Gradius (PC Engine) - Pausing the game and then entering the code Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, II, and I activates full options, missile, and shield.
- Life Force/Salamander (NES) - Enter the code at the title screen for 30 lives.
- Gradius II: GOFER no Yabō (Family Computer) - Entering the code at the title screen starts the player with thirty lives. Alternatively, the code can also be used during the game like in the first Gradius to activate every powerup.
- Gradius II (PC Engine) - Pausing the game and then entering the code Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, II, and I activates full power. This code works more than once on Easy mode.
- Nemesis (GB) - Pausing the game and entering the code will give the player full options.
- Gradius III (SNES) - Normally entering the code while paused activates all powerups, but the player's ship is instantly destroyed upon unpausing. The player must enter the code by substituting Left and Right on the control pad with the L and R shoulder buttons to apply the power-ups without penalty.
- Gradius III (PS2) - Pausing the game and then entering the code activates all powerups except for Speed Up and Double.
- Parodius Da! ~Shinwa kara Owarai e~ (GB) - Pausing the game and then entering the code activates all powerups except for Speed Up and Double. Entering the code when the Konami Logo appears enables the Sound Test mode.
- Parodius Da! ~Shinwa kara Owarai e~ (Super Famicom/SNES) - Pausing the game and then entering the code destroys the player upon unpausing. However, entering B, B, X, X, A, Y, A, Y, Up, Left and unpausing will fully power up the player. The second code uses the same finger-movements when the SNES controller is held upside-down.
- Gradius Deluxe Pack (Saturn) - Pausing the game then entering the code will give full weapons only on Saturn Easy and Saturn Hard difficulty levels.
- Gradius Gaiden (PS) - Pausing the game then entering the code Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, X, Circle will result in a power up.
- Gradius Galaxies (GBA) - Normally entering the code while paused activates all powerups, but the player is instantly destroyed upon unpausing. However, if the player enters the code and substitutes the L and R buttons for Left and Right, the powerups are applied without penalty. Entering Down, Down, Up, Up, Right, Left, Right, Left, A, B will result in full powerups, but subtracts one life per use. Down, Down, Up, Up, R, L, R, L, A, B gives full powerups followed shortly by self destruction.
- Gradius IV (PS2, PSP) - Pausing the game and then entering the code activates all powerups except for Speed Up and Double.
- Gradius V (PS2) - Pressing Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, L1, R1 while paused gives full powerups, including the Laser weapon. Using L2 and R2 for the final two buttons gives the Double Shot instead.
- Gradius ReBirth (Wii) - Pausing the game and then entering this code will give the player's ship four options.
- Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner (PS2) — While fighting the Vic Viper boss in Extra Missions Mode, entering the code with L1 and R1 instead of A and B activates the Zoradius mini-game. Entering the same code again in Zoradius while paused gives the player full powerups.