Retro Profile: Contra (NES)

contra_screen1.gifAs a kid, nothing seemed cooler in a video game than two shirtless dudes running around with heavy weaponry and blowing up aliens that were bent on dominating the earth. I still remember when my brother and I played Contra for the first time. I was hooked from the get go. This game is all about non-stop action, and quick reflexes. You have a choice of 5 weapons in the game– Machine Gun (M), Flame Thrower (F), Laser (L), Spread (S), and Rapid (R). The spread gun is still my personal favorite. Hands down, the worst weapon was the laser or that pea shooter weapon you start out with upon losing a life.

Contra has a total of 8 levels, each progressively more challenging than the last. Two of them were psudeo-3D levels that took place inside the alien base. The main goal is to run and gun (and somersault) your way through hordes of aliens soldiers and take down the sinister Red Falcon boss. You’ll shoot your way through starry jungles, snow-capped fortresses, and even scale up the side of a waterfall– just to name a few.

Most famous for its somewhat formidable difficulty, Contra is best played with a friend. It’s always nice to have a buddy around when you’re trying to beat contra_screen3.gifthe game with out using the Konami code. But be warned though– this game may also end some friendships as well. All you have to do is make the “mistake” of pressing the A & B buttons at the same time to steal an extra man from your friend (because you couldn’t play well enough to stay alive in the first place) and you might as well just show yourself to the door. Also, leaving the other person behind on the waterfall level is another surefire way to make a mortal enemy.

Contra wouldn’t be complete without the rock’n sound tracks in each level. It’s never boring or plain”¦in fact most of the tunes are quite memorable. Audio excellence is something that Konami would go on to be known for in addition to great home ports of arcade hits.

Play or Stay? Well I think it’s safe to say that Contra set the standard for many side scrolling action games after its release for years to come. Contra is a game with no health bars, save points, or fancy story telling; just heavy action, nostalgic fun, and that famous Konami quality. Frankly, that’s all you’ll need to enjoy this fine creation. This one’s a keeper. ”“ Jamie Alston