Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a Japanese video game producer whose “Konami Code” allowed players to cheat their way to superhuman strength, additional firepower and extra lives, has died. He was 61.
His death was confirmed by a spokesman for Konami, the Japanese video game maker where Mr. Hashimoto worked for decades. He did not specify the cause or where Mr. Hashimoto died.
“We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the ‘Konami Code,’” the company said in a tweet on Wednesday.
On classic video game consoles, such as the Nintendo Entertainment System that was widely used in the 1980s, the Konami Code was a sequence of button-pushes: up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start.
In the decades since its creation, it has become a famous hack. Many players first used it to get more lives in the 1988 Nintendo game Contra, and it has since been featured in several games, including Dance Dance Revolution, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Fortnite.
In an interview that reportedly took place in 2003 and was translated into English in 2012, Mr. Hashimoto described his early work at Konami developing coin-operated arcade games into console games. “People weren’t separated into positions like ‘programmer’ and ‘planner’ at the time,” he said, “and design tools didn’t really exist yet.”
He added that there was no big story behind the creation of the Konami Code; he simply needed it to beat Gradius, a difficult space shooter game that he was converting, or porting, from arcade to console form.
“Because I was the one who was going to be using it, I made sure it was easy to remember,” he said.
In Gradius, the Konami Code gave players “power-ups,” which helped them defeat enemy spaceships. That game did not sell very well, but developers continued to use the code in other products. It was baked into Contra, a run-and-gun game that was a commercial success for Konami and Nintendo.
Contra made the Konami Code famous. Since then, its reach has exceeded the confines of video game consoles; websites, movies, television shows and T-shirts have referred to it, too.
Kazuhisa Hashimoto was born on Nov. 15, 1958, according to the translated interview. He worked at Konami until 2010. Information on survivors was not immediately available.