Specific Ratings

Learning CurveA
Replay ValueA+

Pros and Cons

  • Kind of Game You Can Just Pick Up & Play
  • Destroy Terrorist Alien Scum
  • Nice Array of Weapons
  • 2 Player Fun
  • Nearly Impossible to Beat Without "The Code"

Contra (Nintendo Entertainment System)

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"Pitted against the galaxy's fiercest foe, you either win or the whole world loses."



Yeah, you've heard of Contra, and yeah, you've probably played it at least once, but so what? Well, I'll tell you, Contra is the game to own if you still play your 8-bit Nintendo. When I hear someone say NES, I instantly think of Contra. It's like peas and carrots, like Jenny and Forrest. They just go together. love

Contra is probably one of Konami's most successful releases, and I even venture to say that it is also Nintendo's most popular game for their NES console. Like a lot of people that grew up in the 80s, a lot of my free time was devoted to battling the relentless Royal Guards and destroying the vile Red Falcon. Yeah, I had to use "THE CODE", but so did you! But in the event that you are reading this review and still don't understand what's so damn special about this game, then let me enlighten you! smile


"In 1957 a large object from outer space crashed into Earth's Amazon basin, near ruins of the lost Mayan civilization. Scientist world-wide heralded the incident as a trivial cosmic occurrence, and thus the collision was soon forgotten.
Now, thirty years later, rumors of an evil force have swept into the Pentagon's front office, and tales from frightened villagers of a hideous being with an army of alien henchmen are sending chills down the spines of top military brass.
Unwilling to upset current political stability, an all-out assault on the region has been overruled, and instead, two of America's most cunning, courageous, and ruthless soldiers from the Special Forces elite commando squad have been selected to seek out and destroy these alien intruders.
Congratulations, pal, you're one of the chosen. But before you take pride in being the best, be warned.
You're about to come face to face against Red Falcon, the cruelest life-form in the galaxy. He arrived on Earth thirty years ago (that's six months time in an alien's life) to establish a foothold from which he will attempt to conquer our world and then use it as a stepping stone toward his ultimate fiendish goal: domination of the entire universe.
Needless to say, playing hero won't be easy. But you have no choice - you must be a hero. Because if you fail, life as we know it will cease to exist, and the Red Falcon will rule forever.
If you succeed, well... it doesn't matter, because I doubt you will." -- taken from the Contra instruction manual (pg. 4)

Well, that about sums it up. Who could ask for a more thrilling story line?

Contra is a one or two player game, but it should really only be played with a friend. You play as the commandos, Lance (a.k.a. Scorpion) and Bill (a.k.a. Mad Dog), shooting your way through the Red Falcon's eight lines of defense. Contra is essentially an action/shooter/platformer, if that makes any sense.

You start with only 3 lives, so it's important to use teamwork, cover-fire, and good timing when advancing. Teamwork and timing will be crucial on certain levels like the Waterfall, Energy Zone, and Hanger Zone. The only way to be really effective at destroying the Royal Guards is to power-up your weapons. Shoot pill box sensors and flying capsules with the Falcon symbol and they will release a particular power-up for your gun. Available power-ups include a machine gun, laser gun, fire ball gun, rapid fire, force field, mass destruction, and the totally radical spread gun!

Contra has some pretty cool environments and even cooler bosses. Everything looks really good and very clean. The levels have a nice variety and their order flows very well. I can't say much for the detail in the characters or the diversity of enemies, but it really doesn't seem to detract from the experience.

Each level has its own tune and they are all quite fitting for the scenario. The sounds of each of your weapons are unique, and I really love the sound clip used when a player is killed. Nothing amazing here, but good nonetheless.

Replay Value
Like I said earlier, to really enjoy this game, you need to play Contra with 2 players. The fun and teamwork involved in the 2 player mode is what really drives the replay value. Don't get me wrong, Contra is still fun playing by yourself, but you can't really match the 2 player mode. Once one player has lost all of his lives, you can "steal" one of your teammate's lives by pressing a button combination (see Code section below) and continue kicking ass. A dead commando is a useless one.

So, dust off your old NES console and bring back the good old days of ridiculous storylines and low resolution characters, and if you have never tried this fantastic game, pick up a copy ASAP and experience and true classic.

* 30 Lives -- Press UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A and then either START for a single player game or SELECT, START for two players before the demo begins at the title screen. Being a gamer you should all ready know this code, but if you didn't, just pretend like you did. wink

* Transfer Lives -- During a 2 player game, if you or your buddy get killed off, you can press A + B on the dead player's controller to steal, I mean transfer a life to that player.

Collector's Note
Contra is a relatively common NES game, but the sheer popularity of this game will unfortunately drive up the price. You can expect to pay anywhere from $15 - 20 at a game store or eBay. In my opinion, it's worth every penny.

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