bill-swift - September 26, 2013
Hold on to your ‘nads, gentlemen, it just got a whole lot more badass in here. Contra is almost certainly the manliest game (series) ever made. It's like Rambo: the video game (not to be confused with... Rambo: The Video Game, next month's upcoming FPS featuring setpieces from the first three movies). Prepare yourself for some good ol' fashioned arcade shoot-age.
The first installment of Contra was released in chunky cabinet coin-op form in 1987. It was then ported to the NES, and an array of obscure consoles only the nerdliest of bastards have ever heard of (what in holy hell was the Playchoice-10?). It's a violence-tacular run and gun military shooter, much like Metal Slug, and retains the same beloved status among retro heads. Let's take a look.
The plot differs depending on which edition of the game you're playing. In the Japanese version, you are a studly commando on a mission to eradicate the Red Falcon Organization, a band of terrorists bent on world domination. Elsewhere, ‘Red Falcon' is instead an angry alien of some sort, with the same primary objective. Either way, though, your task is simple enough: opt to play as Bill "Mad Dog" Rizer or Lance "Scorpion" Bean and shoot several shades of shit out of everything while cruising from left to right. Occasionally, if you're lucky, there will be a platform or two to jump between.
This quest will take you through a series of stages full of all our favorite ballache gaming cliches: jungle, snowstorm, and more besides. Some of these are played from a ‘3D maze' perspective, in which you must lead Mad Dog or Scorpion to infiltrate an enemy base from an over-the-shoulder viewpoint. In either case, they're liberally filled with power ups, items and... some deeply peculiar looking space-soldiers.
Contra doesn't boast the slightly demented quirky humor and animation of Metal Slug, but it does offer some utterly ball-busting difficulty (IGN once dubbed it the ‘Toughest Game to Beat'). It's a relic of a simpler, blur-tastic and trigger-happy time, when games would quite often leave you whimpering on the floor in the fetal position, crying sad, sad tears of defeated sadness.
It's a classic in every sense of the word. It established some of the genre's standards, including simultaneous co-op play; which was still considered witchcraft in some parts of the world in 1987. Contra spawned a shitstorm of sequels; Super Contra, Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra Force among them. Special mention, though, goes to Contra: Hard Corps. Mainly (if not entirely) for the title. Mmm, that's good punning!
Most importantly, these are the games that recent 2D throwbacks have imitated the most. It seems the appeal of these ancient scrolling run and gunners cannot be stopped.
Source of images: gamefaqs.
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