Console: NES Company: Konami Release Date: July 1988 Genre: Action Number of Players: 1 or 2 Save Feature? No
When it comes to two-player action, Contra reigns supreme! Released in an age when good two-player games were hard to find, Contra was a gleaming oasis in the desert. With its sensational play control, oh-so-cool weapons, and flawless gameplay, Contra has everything it takes to be a true classic!
Overview: Contra is an action game that consists of eight fast-paced stages. The object of the game is to blast your way through enemy territory defeating the Red Falcon's army (and eventually Red Falcon himself) without getting killed in the process. Obviously, this is much easier said than done. However, there are several weapons that will come to your aid. There's the ultra-powerful Laser, the rapid-fire Machine Gun, and my personal favorite, the Spreader. Using the various weapons in the game (save the pitiful Fire Gun) is a lot of fun and adds to the gameplay. Teaming up with a friend greatly improves your chance of success as well; the extra firepower helps immensely. There is a large variety of levels in Contra which really gives the game a neat feel. You'll journey through a dense jungle, climb a steep waterfall, and even do battle in a freezing snowfield. If you're looking for action, Contra's got plenty of that!
Graphics: Konami has the amazing ability to use a game's graphics to create a neat atmosphere. I always felt that the first stage of Contra set the perfect tone for the rest of the game. There's just something neat about being in a mysterious jungle with a clear night sky overhead. The background graphics such as water flowing in the waterfall stage and the menacing alien life of Stage 8 add to the atmosphere as well. While atmosphere is important, so is quality...and the graphics in this classic are vintage Konami graphics. The 3D bases (Stages 2 and 4) are eyepopping for a 1988 pak; I was amazed when I saw those levels for the first time. The attention to detail is impressive too. This is readily apparent when you encounter the bosses. Some of the bosses in this game look incredible! Stage 3 is the home of a gigantic alien the size of the screen while Red Falcon makes an appearance in Stage 8.
Music: Contra's soundtrack fits the "commando" style of the game very well. The music in this game consists of mostly upbeat, somewhat suspenseful songs. My personal favorite is the lively Stage 1 tune; it's just a neat track. I also enjoy the short tune that plays between stages. It's short but it really stays in your head! Another catchy tune is the "Base Theme" that plays during Stages 2 & 4. The sound effects in Contra are excellent as well. From the simple sound of rifle fire to the various explosions that occur, the sound effects do the job. While there are a few rather average tunes, the music in Contra is very impressive.
Play Control: Like I mentioned in the intro, the play control in Contra is a major forte of the game. What makes Contra stand out from other action games is the fact that you can shoot in eight directions (even when you're in the air!!) This was so cool for an older release. Jumping down to lower platforms is easy too; you just have to press down and A (no falling through platforms like in Kid Icarus). The controls are just so fluid and accurate; you can't blame your controller if you screw up!
Challenge: Anyone who has played Contra knows that it is very difficult. However, with time and experience, anyone can defeat the "vile" red falcon. :) While there are places in the game that trip up even the most experienced video game commandos, the challenge is at the right level. That's one aspect of the game that impresses me. While the game is challenging, I don't seem to get too frustrated. When you're playing a fast-paced game with enemies all around, you can't expect to breeze through unscathed (although I've somehow managed to beat the game twice without losing a life...it's very tough!)
Storyline: It's the distant future and something mysterious is brewing in the Amazon jungle. Evidently, something strange crashed into the Earth back in the 1950s and was never discovered...until now. The world is horrified to learn of the Red Falcon: a power-hungry alien that is determined to conquer the world. However, you and your comrade (if he chooses to bare arms) are battle-tested commando fighters that want some action. The only problem is that you're outnumbered 1000 to 1 by a force that is undefeated. However, odds mean nothing when everything is on the line. Eight grueling levels of terror await. As you can see, Contra's plot isn't great by any stretch but for an action-oriented game like Contra, the storyline really isn't that important. And as I've said many times, anything but a "save a princess" plot will do for me.
Funfactor: Ho boy! This is where Contra really shines! Few games are more enjoyable than this game. Perhaps it's nostalgia, perhaps its the combination of great play control and great gameplay, but whatever the reason, I always seem to have a great time playing this game. Playing with a friend is a blast! I have an older cousin who isn't a big video game fan, but he can't resist firing up a game of Contra! That's just how great this game is; even people who don't consider themselves big video game fans can't resist playing this game. It takes an awfully special game to achieve something like this.
Negatives: If there's anything wrong with Contra, it's the length. While there are eight action-packed stages, it only takes around 20 to 25 minutes to beat the game. Also, while I'm a big fan of the weapons in the game, I hate that stupid Fire weapon! The regular rifle is better than that piece of junk! :) While some of the music was excellent, there were a few pretty average tracks.
Ratings: Graphics: 4.5 Music: 4.1 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.6 Storyline: 4.0 Funfactor: 4.8 Overall Score: 26.5 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Silver Stud!
Back to NES NostalgiaLast Updated: May 21, 2006