Contra (NES)

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North American box art.

Contra, known as Gryzor on European home computers, and Probotector on European consoles, is a run-and-gun action shooter from Konami. The game was originally released in the arcade in 1987, and then ported to various platforms.

My earliest memory of Contra 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. Even with 30 lives, we couldn't beat it without needing to continue.


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


  • Overall: 5/10
  • Best Version: NES


  • 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.
  • The graphics are pretty good, and using Giger's art style as adapted to Alien was a great idea.
  • 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),


  • The game is painfully difficult. 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.


  • Nothing.

Box Art