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  1. I start Contra.
  2. I start playing the first level.
  3. up-up-down-down-left-right-left-right-B-A-Start.
  4. Nothing happens.

What am I doing wrong?

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Some games use Select instead of Start. – Matthew Read Mar 20 '11 at 0:40
@MatthewRead: Contra uses Select before Start only if you're playing a two player game. – user2974 Mar 20 '11 at 3:18

The Konami Code should be entered in the main menu, not in a level.

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Most games using the Konami code will have the player input it on the title screen.

In the case of Contra, go to the title screen and then enter the code. Push Select before pushing Start to start the game in 2-player mode with 30 lives each.

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