The universe teeters on the brink of total annihilation at the hands of the vile alien warmonger, Red Falcon. Earth’s only hope rests with you, a courageous member of the Special Forces elite commando squad. Your mission: Battle deep into the deadly Amazon jungle, where the Red Falcon and his galactic henchmen have transformed ancient Mayan temples into awesome monuments dedicated to mass destruction. A multitude of weapons, from rapid-fire machine guns to high-tech lasers are at your disposal as you sweat blood, fighting past 3-D mazes, underground security systems, and tropical forests surrounded by giant waterfalls and alien cannons. This is the ultimate test for the ultimate guerilla warrior. And if you survive, Earth survives!
This is what is posed to us as the rundown of the story to the hit arcade-then-NES-then-everything-else game Contra. In reality, this merely explains the first and second levels. It was almost like whoever wrote this didn’t even get far enough to write about any more of it. We at NPG Retro Play are here today to defy them and finish Contra in the name of my misery and your enjoyment. We all know you don’t REALLY enjoy reading these anyways.
Shit! Spoilers, SPOILERS!
When you turn on the game, you are immediately taken into the epic world of Contra thanks to the kickass intro jingle and a sideways scrolling title card, complete with a satisfying “PKRRKRMMRMRMMKKBLBLL” sound, which may look like gibberish, but is realistically the only way I can articulate the sound “PKRRKRMMRMRMMKKBLBLL” without looking like an idiot. Oh, I do already? Well, there goes my smile.
“Press Start, Bitch.”, their faces command you. Or, enter the Konami code first, then their faces still command you Press Start, Bitch. The only difference is that this time they add a few more un-nice descriptive words to tell you what kind of person you are for using the Konami Code. There’s no shame in doing that, children. I’m not hardcore, I know when to relent and appeal to the higher powers that programmed this code in to our experience. Once you’re done being a Pussy, it’s time to rock and roll. Stage 1 places you in a jungle setting, on an absurdly level plane over a body of water. Your goal is to mainly shoot everything and then shoot other stuff, so get going, fool!
Along the way, you will see UFOs fly by, but these are not here to abduct and/or probe you, they contain weapon upgrades, which could be a Spreader (S), Laser (L), Machine Gun (M), Fireballs and finally an upgrade that will increase the fire rate for each of your weapons (R). You can also get an invincibility power up that, fancy this, makes you invincible (B). Finally, there is a flashing eagle shaped emblem that destroys everyone on the screen except you. I bet Sarah Conner wishes she had this in that wacky dream of hers that gave me nightmares as a child.
In Contra, you need to watch the hell out, because if you get touched once by any enemy projectile, you dead. The only exception to this is when you have the barrier. When you have only 3 lives for the entire game, you make them count. Of course, there are 1-ups that are granted when you hit a certain number of points, but these are too few and far in between for a reckless brute like myself.
About 75% of the stages are in (big shocker) side scrolling format, however when you hit that 1st boss and take down that fortress, you are taken into a 3D dungeon, full of wonder, intrigue and forward-stepping! In these stages, you need to destroy the glowing orbs in order to proceed into the next room. If you try to walk forward before this is done, you will walk into the electrical barrier and lose one of your 30 puss-lives. The enemies in here also run side to side and fire at you and occasionally throw grenades. Also: Some of them prance as they cross the screen. Yes, prance.
Of course, this extremely annoying formula repeats in a later stage, and the side scrolling action continues in 4 more levels. But, this is exactly what gaming was about in the 80s. Kids nowadays get mad because their iPhone games are free and only include 80 levels. Really? We have 8 and it was always more than enough, you snide little shit. Okay, I’m getting into a rant here, so I think its time to step down from that for now… You little Shit.
One of our grand and scary bosses, a true “Lord ‘o leaping”.
Contra, fortunately does music well. Like, very well. From that opening riff to the stage music, everything is solid gold. Furthermore, the post-level victory music is iconic and extremely memorable. I can recall a number of instances in my real life adventures where that theme can be played to make a personal victory even sweeter. DADADADA-NANANANANANA–NAHNAHNAHANAAAHHHH! YEAH! (Insert arm-pump here)
By the time you’ve blazed through all of the stages, you will have busted caps into the skull of foot soldiers, snipers, grenadiers, robots, skulls, aliens, face-huggers (really), blobs, scallop-like things, demon heads, and last but not least, the damn alien queen. For some reason, her name is Red Falcon. This was a name she chose. Why did she choose a name of things from our world and language? They always do crap like this. When she’s dead, the credits roll and be on your way with the parting words, “CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’VE DESTROYED THE VILE RED FALCON AND SAVED THE UNIVERSE. CONSIDER YOURSELF A HERO.” I think they mean that no one else is going to, so I might as well. After this inspirational moment, the game begins again. It was late and I had been playing for so long that I didn’t even notice that the game had restarted, I was just droning through it. It took me until the 2nd level to actually realize I’d just done that before and went to bed.
We got this under control, tampon throwing alien vaginas notwithstanding.