Contra 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 The European release was based on the American version, but has heavily altered artwork, all the humans have been replaced by robots, to placate European censors.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. I was so bad at gaming in the 1980s that, even the Konami Code which granted 30 lives, I wasn't able to beat the game without needing to continue. I've since become a more seasoned player and can now beat it with the stock lives.
I have beat the American and Japanese NES ports several times without needing to continue.
Best Version: 58%
— This section contains spoilers! —
- 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 more effective than the washed-out ones from the arcade. And, keeping with H. R. Giger's style was a wise decision.
- Hidenori Maezawa and Kyouhei Sada did a great job at arranging Kazuki Muraoka's soundtrack. I even prefer the NES version because the melodies are more noticeable.
- I'm glad that the graphic artists made the giant armored boss look less like a football player.
- I like the boss tease at the beginning of stage 9. I just wish it were a bit stronger.
- 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 more frequently leads to a lot of ire when you don't want to give up your hard-earned lives). It would be nice if this were a setting you could turn off.
- The weapon power-ups should have been reworked before shipping to make them more balanced. As it is, some are clearly better than others. The spray gun is overpowered, the machine gun and rapid fire are a nice boost, but the flame thrower's slow speed and erratic pattern makes it difficult to use, and the laser is particularly bad. You can only have one beam out at once, and it's the only weapon that doesn't speed up with rapid fire.
- I kind of which power-ups were doled out more randomly. You quickly learn to memorize which power-ups you'll get and when you'll get them, and this kind of makes for a less-exciting journey.
- The cheat code is certainly desirable for beginners, but it's a bit much. 30 lives is so many, it basically eliminates the need for even trying to get better at the game.
- 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.
- spriters-resource.com/nes/contra - Graphic sheets.
- youtube.com/watch?v=qXcVojj2GXk - American version longplay.
- youtube.com/watch?v=A-FPkw3zGiM - Japanese version longplay.
- youtube.com/watch?v=9UypHR9l7EU - European version longplay.
|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 Composer||Kazuki Muraoka|
|Sound Arrangers||Hidenori Maezawa, Kyouhei Sada|
|Special Thanks To||Kenji Shimoide, Naoki Sato, AC Contra Team|