Contra (NES)

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North American box art.

Contra for the NES, known in Japan as 魂斗羅 [Kontora] and on European consoles as Probotector, is a run-and-gun action shooter developed and published by Konami for the NES on 1988-02-09. It is a port of the original arcade game, the first in the Contra series. While the game has several similarities to the arcade game, Konami made enough changes to it to warrant calling it a different game.

The game has three different releases, one for Japan, the USA, and Europe. The Japanese release is the best featuring more polish than the USA release with added cut-scenes, background animation, and an in-game story line. Despite having more work put into it, the Japanese release came out before the US release. I presume Konami sent a mostly-complete version to their US offices and, while they were localizing it, the Japanese developers continued to polish their version. The European release was based on the American version, but has heavily altered artwork, all the humans have been replaced by robots, to placate European censors.

My earliest memory of Contra for the NES was playing it or watching it being played with my step-brother. He always referred to the flame thrower as "freaky" and purposely avoided it, which, at the time, I thought was odd, but now, I completely understand. At the time, even the Konami Code which granted 30 lives wasn't enough to beat the game without needing to continue, but I've since become a more seasoned player and can now beat it with the stock lives.

Status

I have beat the American and Japanese NES ports several times without needing to continue.

Review

  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: NES

Good

  • The controls are really responsive and intuitive. You have good control over your jumps.
  • Each stage is pretty unique with new enemies, scenery, and music.
  • The game is challenging enough that even after playing for years, you'll still have difficulty beating it.
  • Even with a weaker GPU, the graphics manage to be better than the washed-out ones from the arcade.
  • Allowing a player who has lost all their lives to steal a life from the remaining player to join in was a great way to keep the fun going for both players (although, it also leads to a lot of ire when you don't want to give up your hard-earned lives),

Bad

  • The game is painfully difficult. Survival comes less from skill, and more from level memorization. Had I encountered this game later in life, I wouldn't have the patience for it. Thankfully there is a 30-lives cheat code which makes victory more possible for an amateur.
  • Only the spray gun, machine gun, and rapid fire are worth getting. Laser and flame thrower are essentially downgrades from the default weapon since they are so difficult to work with.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Maps

Gallery

Video

Credits

Role Names
Directors Shigeharu Umezaki (Umechan), Shinji Kitamoto
Programmers Shigeharu Umezaki, Satoshi Kishiwada, Kouki Yamashita, T. Danjyo, Mitsuaki Ogawa
Graphic Designers T. Ueyama, Setsu Muraki, M. Fujiwara, T. Nishikawa, C. Ozawa
Sound Arrangers Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada,
Special Thanks To Kenji Shimoide, Naoki Sato, AC Contra Team

Links