Super C, known in Japan as スーパー魂斗羅 エイリアンの逆襲 [Supa Kontora: Eirian no Gyakushu] "Super Contra: The Alien Strikes Back" is a run-and-gun action shooter from Konami and sequel to Contra. It was originally an arcade cabinet released in 1988, but was later ported to many different platforms.
I first played this game at my cousin's who was borrowing it from a friend. Already knowing about Contra, I knew what to expect when I played it, and sure enough, I died a lot early on. My brother found out the code that lets you start with 10 lives, not as helpful as the 30 from Contra, but it also made the game less trivial to beat. I have played this game many times and have gotten much better at it.
I do not own this game, but I have beat the American and Japanese versions (they're nearly identical) without cheating or farming lives. At my peak, I have been able to beat it without dying.
- Overall: 6/10
- Best Version: NES
- The controls are really responsive and intuitive.
- The graphics are really impressive, and using the theme of Alien (and, by proxy, Giger's art style) was a great idea.
- The game has a really good soundtrack.
- Each stage is pretty unique with new enemies, scenery, and music. The designers also did a good job of adjusting the level layout. Some levels scroll up, some down, some right, some at an angle.
- The game is challenging enough that even after playing for years, you'll still have difficulty beating it.
- 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 10-lives cheat code (R, L, D, U, A, B) which makes victory more possible for an amateur.
- While they repaired the terrible flame thrower weapon from the first game, the laser gun is just as awful as ever, to the point where I prefer the starting rifle.
- The manual has several flaws.
- The backstory is utterly ridiculous.
- I don't like the idea of killing brainwashed US soldiers.
- It doesn't properly explain the benefit of rapid fire (your bullets move faster) or that you can hold down the fire button to release a charged flame thrower ball.
- It only lists a couple enemies, and one is incorrectly labeled.
- The drawings are pretty amateur.
Like Contra before it, the European releases were renamed "Probotector" and featured a mecha theme. The box art is well-painted, but it doesn't show what the game is about.
This is a running commentary on the game broken out by area.
|Intro||The game doesn't have much of an intro, which is kind of a shame, there is a lot of backstory to cover, and it would be nice to see it incorporated into the game. Instead, we just get a fairly dull title screen. I like that you can hold A+B before hitting start to open a sound test menu.|
|Area 1||To begin with, fantastic helicopter and sunset art, it distracts from the fact that the players just jumped five stories to the pavement without so much as a sprained ankle. The players are eased into plain enemy soldiers, snipers, jumping, and weapon capsules. Good choice giving the machine gun and rapid fire as starting weapons. It teaches how to get them, but doesn't give the best gun too early. Great tile set, and good palette choice for the whole area. The angular scrolling is technically impressive and requires the player to learn to shoot at an angle. The bomb here helps clear the spawner door and eliminate the prone gunner. Next, the flame thrower is introduced. This is a huge improvement over the one from Contra and has the ability to charge up (though this ability should have been made more clearly in the game or the manual). The bombs being tossed from the towers on the ramp just causes a single player to slow down, but with two players, it requires players to communicate when they're going to avoid trapping each other. Next we get another machine gun and a spray gun, I think the machine gun should have been switched to the laser to cover every weapon in the first level, but then, I hate the laser, so it's okay. The hidden turrets are a nice way to keep the players on their toes. Upon reaching the boss, there is a sniper in the trench, which was a great move, he requires a new approach to kill. The boss is a giant cargo helicopter with gun turrets. If you're an experienced player, you can destroy it before it even drops soldiers on you (which I don't really like, it should get at least one drop). Other than that, it's a nice boss. This is a technical marvel because it features a huge scrolling enemy in front of a stationary ground, not something that could be done with the original NES hardware. Overall, this is a great introductory level. It introduces you to the majority of the game's elements and is challenging without being impossible. Fantastic music, also.|
|Area 2||I don't much care for the perspective used in this format because it varies for each object, and the lack of jumping or ducking makes me dislike it more. Still, the art is well-drawn, and the blue and gray palette is nice; too bad it turns sickly brown a third of the way in. The triple-turret tanks are pretty cool, but since they don't move, it's pretty easy to find place where you can stand still and fire from safety. It's made only slightly harder by spawning random cyan solders from the sides of the screen. Putting riflemen on either side of bottle-necks throughout the level was a nice design as they are harder to avoid (unless you have the spray gun!). The rotating turrets are a nice change of pace because they're not as easy to safely shoot from a distance, and since the random soldiers are now red riflemen, it makes things even harder. The bomb just before the two riflemen around the corner is a sight for sore eyes. The bridge gets a little more tricky, with lots of bullets from riflemen and the twin turrets on the other side. The wall is a nice way to force you to deal with the riflemen first rather than just running past them. The huge tank boss seems pretty difficult at first, but the fact that you can walk behind him negates the majority of his attacks. This probably should have been prevented.|
|Area 3||This is one of my favorite areas, and the first level that was really difficult for me when I was younger. The jungle theme is reminiscent of the first Contra, and the music is very fitting for the level. The ground turrets are a nice change up, requiring the player to duck to hit them, but also needing to jump the bullets it shoots and the random cyan soldiers from the sides and trees. The mortar turret is a lot of fun, but, if you have a decent gun, no the shitty laser, you can basically walk past it. The highly populated water is a new element which offers safety while ducking, but you can sometimes inadvertently duck in a very dangerous place with lots of bullets and soldiers coming at regular intervals. The Babalu Destructoid Mechanism is a fantastic mini boss which I find to be even more difficult than the actual boss; it takes awhile to figure out a safe strategy against him. The earthquake section is a lot of fun, and the shaking screen really adds to the effect, but I don't like the couple traps where you have to memorize where the next pit will open or die. I also don't like that you're given an invisibility barrier in a section where you're unlikely to need it. The boss is just a big wall with moving turrets. I find it easier to just focus on the target and just avoid the bullets because it dies so quickly. I would prefer they either required you to kill the turrets first, or gave the target more hit points. Great level over all, it has different tile sets and a lot of environmental interaction.|
|Area 4||This is another pretty tough level. I would have liked to see a bit more variety in the background, but I do like the greenish cyan color, and it does have a lot of enemy variety, so it's forgivable. The bubble generators are kind of lame because you can just jump and shoot from a distance until they run out. Something should have been done to make them more interesting. I do like the occasional rifleman who take a pop shot at you from behind. The crumbling ceiling is a great hazard, and it still gets me from time to time. It won't fall until you shoot it, and you often miss the riflemen causing it to fall prematurely. The winged soldiers are reminiscent of the first Contra and even more deadly here. The four-way turrets look kind of stupid, but they make for an interesting foe especially in the fork where one can only be hit after jumping above it. While I'm fine with games where falling off the screen kills you, I don't like when the game is inconsistent about it. In area 7, you can fall several screens down, but here, and in area 5, falling over a pit that you know has a platform under it still kills you; lame. The second falling ceiling is more of the same, but it's made a little more difficult because you can fall down a pit trying to avoid it. The lifts are kind of cool because, while they eliminate the ability to fall, they also force a constant assault of enemies. If you're too slow in vanquishing them, they begins to avalanche on you. The bubbles here are also back from the first game, and on the lift they're particularly deadly, especially without the spray gun. If you accidentally get stuck with the laser gun, you're pretty screwed. The boss is a vacuum from hell, and at first, you try to shoot the turrets on the sides only to find that it allows it to trap you on the sides of the screen. If you shoot out the center turrets first, it will remain on the screen and create a safe place for you. This is entirely ridiculous from a real-world scenario, but it does add a nice puzzle element to the game.|
|Area 5||I love the art in this stage. Great pixel work, good palette, nice glowing purple clouds in the background, etc. Like with area 4, the fact that falling off the screen kills you, even over an area you know has a platform below it, is stupid. It also becomes all too common when you're playing with a second player. It does promote cooperation, but it requires a great suspension of disbelief. This stage has several tough jumps, a lot of well-placed riflemen, and lots of turrets shooting out lots of bullets. If you don't take it slow, it becomes very difficult! The jetpack soldiers are pretty cool, and become pretty dangerous if you don't take care of them quickly. There is a nice spread of weapons, but they stop nearly halfway through the level making the ending a heck of a lot harder. The boulder area is fun too and leads to a lot of tension wondering if you're going to destroy them before the bowl you over. There is one that falls over a gap, which is a bit of a cheap shot. The way down over the green section is pretty boring. If you keep moving forward, you can run right past the turrets, and the doors that open several soldiers are easy to clean up. The boss here is fantastic. This is the first alien boos, and it's creepy as hell. The severed head skulls that crawl across the ground are great, and the homing spiders require precision shooting. I also love that the whole ship comes down and stomps you if you don't kill it soon enough. Really tough, but really memorable! After killing it, you run into a creepy looking organic cave system, so you know shit's getting real.|
|Area 6||Area 6 uses the same overhead view as Area 2, and likewise jumping and ducking are disabled. The perspective for the background tiles is more accurate because there aren't any walls or turrets to throw it off, but the sprites are still off. The initial graphics are pretty interesting with the spiked floor and eerie green walls, but the spiders are kind of a dull intro. The big toothy maws are pretty cool, but the background is really boring here. The cyclops barrier hears are pretty useless. They can't hurt you, they just serve to suck up your bullets while the spiders shoot at you. Maybe if they were a little tougher or there were more spiders it would be more interesting? The floor gets a little more techy here, which is nice. This next section with the spawning alien larva is great, but unfortunately, the designers put a laser weapon before them. There is a spray too, but if you accidentally get the laser, it becomes much harder to navigate this section. As a child, I always lost a lot of lives to this section, but later I found the trick is to just be patient and know when to backtrack. The bomb in the middle offers a temporary respite. Great bullet-hell section. I like the floor's color changing afterward. The wall may seem pointless, but it does force you through a bottleneck where the spiders have a slightly better chance of getting you. The final boss could have been fantastic, but it's actually pretty lame. I like that when you kill the well-drawn larva, you think, that was too easy, and sure enough, after a brief pause, the (also well-drawn) mother alien approaches. Unfortunately, the mother alien isn't much more difficult than the children. Stand in the middle of the screen and shoot toward the mother and you'll avoid the worm and shoot her fireballs without injury. The designers probably should have required you to kill the worm first or made her bullets invincible. All-in-all, this is my least favorite area in the game.|
|Area 7||The downward scrolling direction is a nice change of pace. The background graphics in this level are really phenomenal. The blue shiny eggs, the green fungus-like webbing, the ruddy floors. The purple spewers are interesting, but ultimately simply enemies. However, they do add a nice element of anxiety as the creep near you. It was a good decision to have the alien drones come from the sides during this point so it wouldn't be too formulaic. Shooting through the eggs in the next section is great, not just because you feel like you're wiping out the alien brood, but also the limited range here makes it harder to avoid the raining drones and get the weapons. The obviously-from-Alien face-huggers section is pretty cool. Each time you drop down to the next level, there is a fear that they'll hop out at an odd angle and get you. I like how the green mesh background tiles pretty organically fade to black around them. The last fall is a bit scary the first time you play, and the boss, oh man, what a fabulous boss! It reminds me of the Area 3 boss from Contra, but bigger and badder. The Giger influence here is obvious, they even got the vibration dials on the dildo arms right. The boss is no slouch either. You can try and slow him down by taking out the slime producers, but I find it's easiest to stay center and shoot up and dodge everything until he dies. Visually, this is my favorite area in the game.|
|Area 8||This is a fantastic final level. It's big, it's damned-difficult, and it looks great. The graphics have a wet look that's difficult to pull off with such a limited color-set, and lots more Giger influences, obvious vulvas and vagina dentata. My only overall problem is that it uses the purple and green palette too much through the level. You're given the best guns early on, but it's difficult to keep them. The floating embryos are fantastic, and the spider-shooting vaginas are quite formidable. You have to take them out quickly, or they become a serious threat. The jumps in the next section must be timed perfectly, and the fast-running alien soldiers here are no slouches either. The worm-head turrets are so fast, they're difficult to dodge, and they're backed up with the soldiers. All good choices, the players should be experts by now! The first time I saw the falling ceiling I was pretty spooked, and it makes the embryos particularly difficult to defeat. Good choice giving the players the flame thrower here because it has limited range through walls. Having the ceiling fall again over the pits was a great jump-scare, and, unless you're expecting it, usually fatal. The soldiers jumping the pits here is just fuel on the fire. The final boss is really interesting. I like how the disrupted earth can kill you, that's a good start. The creepy woman's face being swallowed by a spikey monster looks fantastic and the way they open their eyes sends chills down my spine! It could stand to take a few more hits, but the raining blue spiders and red spider laser certainly keep you on your toes the whole time. Really great level.|
|Ending||Like the intro, there isn't much going on here, which is pretty disappointing. The helicopter drawing isn't nearly as impressive, and while the parallax scrolling of the clouds is nice, the sunset mountain range isn't fantastic. I would have liked to see at least a simple cutscene or something, we just get a credits scroll. Good ending tune though.|
- mobygames.com/game/super-contra - MobyGames.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Contra - Wikipedia.
- gamefaqs.com/nes/563463-super-c - GameFAQs.
- thealmightyguru.com/Games/Hacking/Wiki/index.php/Super_C - NES Hacker Database.