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A 2 Player mode in progress in Contra III: The Alien Wars.

2 Players is a commonly recurring mode within the Contra franchise.


One of the mainstay features of the Contra franchise is the ability to have a second player join in on the Alien-busting action. When a second player joins in, the game's Difficulty changes to accommodate the combined strength of both players (each player's damage output is sliced in half for each player). More enemies may also be present. Stage layout may alter as well, and some enemy behavior will also adjust to two players being present at the same time. Having the advantage of a second player active can greatly assist in some areas, such as covering fire during large swarms of enemies. In most games, when a player runs out of lives, they can return into battle by "borrowing" a spare life stock from the remaining player left alive. This will consume one life from the surviving player and the defeated player cannot return if the surviving player has a stock of 00 (no extra lives remaining). Using a continue refills each player's lives. Naturally, Player 1's status is positioned on the left of the screen, while Player 2 is opposite on the right side. Both players can never play as the same character, either out of confusion or being story wise. However, in many cases, both players may possess identical abilities (essentially being only a palette swap difference between both players). Many game's cutscenes will also adjust for the presence of a second active player.

Due to hardware limitations, the Game Boy titles Operation C and Contra: The Alien Wars feature no 2 Players mode. Some ports of older Contra titles may also lack a proper 2 Player mode.



The arcade version features the ability to allow any player to join in at any given time. After inserting a credit, either player one or two can start the game, with the second player jumping in when prompted. For both players to start simultaneously, the game must be running in demo or Standby mode (after inserting the required credit amount) then wait for the other player to be combat ready and both enter around the same time. For each credit, a player is awarded with 2 lives. The left player controls Bill Rizer while the right oriented player commands Lance Bean.

In the NES/Famicom ports, co-op mode received an overhaul. The 2 Player option is now added to the game's title screen below the 1 Player mode. Two player mode is the only way for a second player to join; one player mode does not allow a second player to join in at any time. 2 Player mode is also the only way for a player to play as Lance Bean (RC011 in Probotector), who is controlled by the second player. In the Famicom version, the player with the highest score OR the surviving player will be featured during a stage transition cutscene. The Konami Code can be used to give both players 30 lives each, but when inputting the code, the player must press SELECT directly before pressing START to change the mode to 2 Players. Enemy position is slightly altered in a 2 Player game.[1]

The NES/Famicom version of the game marks the iconic "Player 1 is blue and Player 2 is red" trend in the Contra series. Despite these sprite colors, the Famicom version's cutscenes depicts Player 1 (Bill) wearing green pants and Player 2 (Lance) as purple, matching their sprite colors shown in the arcade version. The green and purple colors would later be reused as alternate player 1 and 2 colors in Contra 4 (in the form of Mad Dog and Scorpion).

Contra III: The Alien Wars[]

There is two styles of co-op mode: 2 Player A and 2 Player B.

  • In 2 Players A mode, top-down stages use a horizontal split-screen format, with Player 1's half of the screen on the top and Player 2's half on the bottom. Both characters face right in this mode and each player's screen behaves similarly to a one player game mode's screen. Each player can select their own starting position and may select the same starting position as another player.
  • In 2 Players B mode, both players share the same top-down screen and their characters rotate while the perspective remains fixed (this may help alleviate nausea given from a rotating screen in the Sheer Cliff). A player is unable to move far into the stage without the other player nearby. In this perspective, the animation for when a player falls into a bottomless pit is not present and they will simply vanish and respawn (the latter scenario if extra lives are available).

During a two-player game, player bullets may blink transparently onscreen due to sprite limitations. If one player dies, they retain any power-up not lost and can switch between the Machine Gun and the second weapon, preparing themselves for a return so long as the surviving player remains. If a continue is used on any mode, a player has the option to change the 2 Player mode or play a 1 Player mode. Even if a 1 Player mode was selected by the second controller, Player 1 (Bill) will always be played. As with the original NES Contra, a 2 Players game is the only way for a player to play as Lance Bean (RC011 in Super Probotector: The Alien Rebels). Regardless of mode chosen, Lance Bean still makes appearances through the game's numerous scenes. Each player's sprite also contains an exclusive posture when clearing the game, at the end of the credits reel.

Contra: Hard Corps[]

Similar to previous Arcade titles, a second player can join in at any given time, provided a present player has a spare stock to sacrifice so the second player may join. A returning player has the option to select a character before entering, though they cannot select the player currently being controlled by the existing player. A returning player cannot enter the game during some circumstances (such as during a cutscene). If a returning player was selecting their character when a cutscene is activated, their character HUD will reset to default "press start" status. A borrowed life is only used upon the returning player selecting their character and entering the battlefield. A returning player is granted invincibility frames for a few seconds.

Storywise, playing the game will alter the dialogue slightly (changing "I" to "We" for example), with a random player being chosen to speak the preset dialogue. Exclusive to the Japanese version of the game, each character will have their own unique line to say, and if playing under 2 Players, will have the second player speak a "co-op support" line, instead of their usual single player sentence/phrase. If a game is cleared with two players, both player's chosen characters will appear during the route's ending sequence. Notable differences to the game's endings are as followed:

  • In the Secret Ending, a female monkey will appear adjacent to a player who reached this ending. In 2 Players mode, the monkey is replaced by a second player.
  • In the post-credits scene of the Missile route, Player 2's sprite is mirrored from its Player 1 ending sprite.
  • In the Big Battle ending, Player 2's Motoroid tails behind Player 1's.

Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX[]

To play 2 Players mode, each player must have a Game Boy Advance with a copy of the game inserted, plus a link cable to connect the two together. no passwords are given out in 2 Players mode, meaning a game started in 2 Players mode must be cleared from start to finish in one go, though continues are provided.

Contra 4[]

2 Players mode is only available for the Arcade campaign mode. To play, each player must have a Nintendo DS with a copy of the game inserted. One player becomes the host (who will be Player 1) while the other joins (being Player 2). The two players play via local wireless function. A game started in 2 Players mode must be cleared from start to finish in one go, though continues are provided. When the game is paused, gameplay does not freeze but the paused player cannot move. This means a player can still die while "paused". In this manner, the pause menu serves little use besides exiting the game or using the Konami Code cheat, which still works in 2 Players mode. Each player can use the Konami Code cheat once per stage. By using a code once, a player can drop one usage of their power-ups for Player 2, then player 2 can use their Konami Code to power up those weapons. Clearing the game in 2 Players mode will unlock Challenge Mode just as 1 Player mode would.

Each player "shares" characters; Player 2's character is determined by Player 1's selection, but both will always play as the same "set" of character (4 default characters, Probotectors, Lucia, Sheena, Spirits characters). In most (if not all) cases, Player 2 will simply be a palette swap of Player 1, with Player 2's color depending on Player 1's selection.

In Contra 4's two NES ports of Contra and Super C, 2 Players mode remains but can no longer be played by a separate controller. The Nintendo DS's buttons controls both players: two of the face buttons can control Player 1 while the remaining 2 can control Player 2. The Control Pad controls the movement of both bill and Lance simultaneously. This layout makes it near impossible for a second person to play co-op.

Contra: Shattered Soldier[]

In a 2 Players game, both players can affect the end result ranking, where possible (each player losing one life would be similar to one player losing 2 lives during overall tally).

Contra ReBirth[]

Unlike past Contra titles, a defeated player cannot borrow lives from a surviving player. The defeated player must wait until a Continue is used.

During Stage 3, a Robot Llama will carry two power-ups instead of one if 2 Players are present.

At the character select screen, Player one's aura is blue and Player 2's aura is red. When both players highlight over a character, the aura shown over a highlighted character may appear purple.

Hard Corps: Uprising[]

A second player can join in on the game when player 1 is selecting their character. Both players can choose to play as the same character but both players cannot play as the same color, likely out of confusion. Player 1's story text will always be loaded between stages. A defeated player can borrow a spare life from the surviving player to return to battle. Each player has a separate scoring for ranking, meaning one player's score will not affect the other player's.

Contra: Operation Galuga[]

This is the first game to feature 4-player simultaneous co-op.



  • In the prototype of Contra 4, loading a 2 Players game using the debug menu will have both players play as Bill Rizer.