Total time played: 2 Hours
Short review: A game synonymous with the NES. The first truly great run and gun style action game.
Interesting links related to Contra
- My Original Review From 2013
- Original Soundtrack
- Heavy Metal Contra Soundtrack
- Speedrun (11 minutes 34 seconds)
- Contra Live Action Short Film
- Contra memories (James Rolfe aka Angry Video Game Nerd)
Never have I ever, until today, beaten Contra without the Konami code. In my defense, I never really tried. Before I started on my journey to beat every NES game, and honestly, not until I was 50 or so games into the journey did I start taking it seriously. That is why the first several reviews are not much more than a paragraph or two. The truth is, I wrote all of those reviews in a weekend while staying at my in-laws long after I had beaten the games so they weren’t fresh in my mind. This is one of the few games that I have “beaten” that I don’t feel great about since I did use the Konami Code so I wanted to play it the right way.
Why did I decide to revisit Contra even though there are 500 more games to beat? Well, the answer is simple. My daughter discovered “old games” which means I am spending a bit more time in my game room than I used to. While she plays “crooked Mario” (Mario 64) or Elmo or “the Mario with Yoshi” (Super Mario World) I needed a game I could quickly play, that allows me to pause and help her out if she gets stuck. I decided I’d try Contra as the next game on my quest to beat every game is a bit more involved.
Like A Glove
Turns out when you have played Contra as much as I have you slide back into it like it hasn’t been years since you have played it. It only took me 8 tries to beat the game without the code. Turns out slow and steady wins the race in Contra. I was so used to just running and shooting with no regard to my life as I usually have 30 of them to spare.
I Don’t Remember
Honestly, I have no idea when I first played Contra. It was a game I never owned and don’t remember renting but that is only because all of my cousins and friends seemed to own this game. When I think back on Contra I don’t have any specific memories, more of just a general feeling of nostalgia.
Level by Level
Jungle: This is where it starts, dropped into a jungle where you must fight your way through hoards of bad guys, guns, and avoid holes in order to break down the entrance to a base.
What a great start to a game. You get to see a bridge explode, walk waste deep through water, and experience the Machine Gun and probably the best weapon on the NES, the Spread Gun (which I called squirt gun as a kid). Also, you get to hear one of the most high energy rockin songs on the NES.
Base 1: How cool, the 2nd level is inside the enemies base and instead of a side scrolling game you move from the bottom to the top of the screen in an almost 3D like manner. Once you shoot all the glowing octagon looking things on the wall it will explode which disables the electric fence in front of you and lets you pass.
If you duck, the bad guys bullets can’t hit you. But, beware, some of them throw grenades which can hit you while you duck. You need to also watch out for the rolling pins who comes your way across the floor, you can jump over them or blast them with you gun.
Waterfall: Yet another new way to play. In level 3 you are now ascending a waterfall by jumping up and up and up dodging falling boulders, bullets and trying not to plunge to your death
Base 2: This is basically just like level 2, but, this time there are more bad guys and the little octagons you have to hit are covered with a glowing square that you must break first.
Snow Field: The obligatory snow level. My daughter asked why my guy didn’t have a shirt on and that he might get cold. I had never thought about it before but she is right. Also, unlike most video game snow levels your character doesn’t slip and slide on the ice, he controls the same as in every other stage.
This is the first level in the game where things get a little tough. Multiple guys are shooting from all directions as well as grenades being launched from behind trees and also a couple of huge spike covered tanks that take a lot of bullets to take down.
Energy Zone: Honestly, this is the level that kept me from ever trying to beat this game without the code. The level has a bunch of fire lasers that shoot out at you, some are random and some are on timers. I always found one laser to be really tough and I’d lose several lives making the 3 life run impossible. Thanks to YouTube I found some strategies that made this a non-issue and the level ended up not being that bad.
Hanger: Turns out this is the level that game me the most trouble. Or, more specifically the boss (which is really just a door). Throughout this level you encounter spike walls, dropping claws and runaway mine carts on top of the regular flurry of bullets. Again, slow and steady wins the race.
Alien Lair: The final stage puts you inside the Alien Lair, which may actually be inside an alien seeing as how the final boss is a giant human looking heart. I found this level to be much easier than level 7 as long as you take out the purple mouths that line the walls throughout. If you don’t they shoot some heat seeking white puff balls as you that can be a pain.
I can’t say anything about Contra that hasn’t been said better before. It is an all time classic that is fun and easy to pick up and play alone or with a friend. If you are intimidated by the one hit kills there is an easy to enter 30 lives code making the game much more manageable. I’m glad I finally took the little amount of time to actually beat the game without the code.