To many gamers it is a magic chant to ward off trouble: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. The infamous Konami Code has been around for years now, dating all the way back to the original Nintendo Entertainment System title Gradius. Created as a testing cheat by Gradius developer Kazuhisa Hashimoto, the code has gone on to appear in more than fifty other video games, and by entering the code at special moments players are granted anything from power-ups to bonus energy to a penalty for trying to cheat.
Many people (myself included) first came to know the code as the "Contra code" due to its use in granting thirty extra lives when the code is tapped in at the NES title Contra's title screen. Before the pubic popularity of the Internet and before the massive influx of gaming magazines this little code somehow managed to pass from person to person across playgrounds and offices everywhere. The code's longevity is credited not only to the cheat-tastic extras it provides, but also to the fact that it was once a secret that "everybody" knew. I'd love to know just how the code spread throughout the gaming world. How fast did it spread? Who did Kazuhisa Hashimoto tell first about the code? Is it the most popular and/or well-known cheat code in this modern era? Some questions will never have known answers, unfortunately, but as long as we can enjoy extra lives in Contra I think it's a fair trade-off.