Contra Wiki
Contra Wiki
For other uses, see Contra (disambiguation).

Pitted against the galaxy's fiercest foe, you either win or the whole world loses.
~ American/European box cover tagline.

Contra (コントラ Kontora?) (stylized in Chinese: 魂斗羅), distributed as Gryzor in Europe and Oceania, is a 1987 science fiction/guerrilla-themed run-and-gun action video game developed and published by Konami originally released as a coin-operated arcade game on February 20, 1987. A home version was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988, along with ports for various computer formats, including the MSX2. The home versions were localized in the PAL region as Gryzor on the various computer formats, and as Probotector on the NES, released later. Several Contra sequels were produced following the original game.


In 2633 A.D., two armed Elite Marine Commandos "Contra", named Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, are sent on a mission to neutralize a terrorist organization called Red Falcon that is secretly planning to take over the entire world, and it's up to this two-man-army to put an end to this madness once and for all.


Contra is a run-and-gun action platformer, notorious for its high difficulty. The player character comes armed with a gun that can shoot infinitely. Different weapons with new abilities and that shoot different types of projectiles can be acquired as the player progresses through the levels. These can be found either inside of Pill Box Sensors or in Flying Capsules. When destroyed, the power-up will spring out onto the battlefield and can then be collected to change the player's weapon. However, the weapon will be lost if the player comes in contact with an enemy or a deadly obstacle, losing a life instantly. The character can shoot in eight directions and can also crouch.

The player starts with three lives, which are represented by medals. Extra lives can be earned by destroying enough enemies and raising the current score. The second player is able to "steal" lives from the other player in order to join the game.

The game also features a couple of pseudo-3D sections; one in the second stage (Base 1) and the other in the fourth stage (Base 2). In these levels, there are electric barriers that can momentarily paralyze the player if they come in contact with them, leaving them open to enemy fire in the meantime. To proceed further into these levels, the player has to destroy an orb found on the middle of the rear wall of each room.

There are a total of eight stages in the game. A boss can be found at the end of each one, which has to be defeated in order to proceed to the next one.





Stage Name Boss Music
1 Jungle Defense Wall Jungle Battle
2 Base Garmakilma Labyrinth Fortress
3 Waterfall Gromaides Waterfall of Bloodshed
4 Base 2 Godomuga Labyrinth Fortress
5 Snow Field Guldaf
Dogra ×2
Fortress in the Ice
Energy Zone Gordea ×2 Fortress in the Fire
Hangar Zone - Fortress in the Fire
Alien's Lair Emperor Demon Dragon God Java
Gomeramos King
Horrible Heartbeat

Nintendo Entertainment System[]

Stage Name Boss Music
1 Jungle Defense Wall Jungle Battle
2 Base Garmakilma Labyrinth Fortress
3 Waterfall Gromaides Waterfall of Bloodshed
4 Base 2 Godomuga Labyrinth Fortress
5 Snow Field Dogra ×2
Fortress in the Ice
6 Energy Zone Gordea Fortress in the Fire
7 Hangar Final Gate Jungle Battle
8 Alien's Lair Emperor Demon Dragon God Java
Gomeramos King
Horrible Heartbeat


Ports, remakes and compilations[]


Much of the game's popularity came from its two-player simultaneous cooperative gameplay, which was an uncommon feature in video games at the time. Another aspect of the game's huge success was its motif and inspiration; Contra is mainly inspired by a combination of three hugely popular contemporary action films: Commando, Rambo and Aliens. In fact, many of Red Falcon's forces are inspired in the Alien franchise, such as facehuggers and ovomorphs. In addition, Bill Rizer's and Lance Bean's physical designs were based on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, respectively; the two box-office guarantee action movie stars at the time.

While successful in the arcades, the game became, and remained, wildly popular and remembered when it was ported to Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988, right after its arcade release a year prior. It has been voted No.1 by many websites, notably IGN's as being the "Toughest Game to Beat".[1] Nintendo Power ranked it the seventh best Nintendo Entertainment System video game, calling it one of the best multiplayer NES Games.[2] ScrewAttack named it the fifth best NES of all time in the 1980s.

Regional differences[]

Main article: Contra (video game)/Regional differences


The Famicom version of the game includes additional backgrounds, a map showing the player's location, characters communicating to base via radio, and different animated introductory and ending screens. All this was possible thanks to a special chip created by Konami for their games called VRC-2. However, because Nintendo manufactured standard boards for the commercialization of all games in America and Europe (which did not include the chip), none of these features appeared in the versions of the game for these countries (a similar case to what happened to Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, also by Konami).

In the European versions, the main characters, as well as many humanoid-like enemies, were replaced with robots due to a German law prohibiting showing violence to minors. This change also expanded to the Helicopter at the end of the game, which now resembles a futuristic looking jet. The life icon (which was a medal) was also changed (now being a miniature Probotector). Because of sprite changes, some objects, characters and parts of the stages have minor palette changes (an example includes the third boss, Gromaides, having different arm colors). Enemy bullets have also been changed from white to red. The plots for all three region variants have slightly alternate details between them (see Regional differences for further information).

Exclusively in the Famicom version, if the player holds the START and SELECT buttons on Controller 1 during the island explosion scene, just before the credits, and keeps them held, a hidden message will appear stating about Red Falcon being invincible and returning. This could signify the army's return, which proves true as Red Falcon made following attempts to takeover Earth and a teaser for the next game.[3] The message, when translated, reads:

Foolish earthlings.

You actually thought this
annihilated Red Falcon?
While we lost our Earth frontline base,
we are already making our next move.

Red Falcon
will be eternally immortal.....



Packaging artwork[]

Promotional artwork[]



  • Chad Johnson holds the official record for the arcade version of this game with 1,546,600 points on July 15, 2002.[4]
  • A few months after the arcade release of Contra, an action film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger was released known as Predator. Much of the game's NES elements appear to be strongly based on the film, with the North American cover artwork of Bill Rizer and Lance Bean being drawn based on the characters Dutch and Billy from said film. The two commandos appearing shirtless may have been inspired by a scene from the film where Billy removes his shirt and pulls out a large knife just before facing the Predator off-screen (a similar pose is sometimes adopted by Lance Bean). Later Contra titles would borrow many other elements from said film, such as the common appearance of a military helicopter, and future character designs based on other members of Dutch's team.
  • Although the Japanese cutscenes depict Bill and Lance wearing green and purple pants, respectively, they are shown in-game to wear blue and red pants.
    • Coincidentally, Mad Dog and Scorpion would respectively wear green and purple.
  • The game has a famous cheat code called the Konami Code. The player can get 30 lives after pressing the following button combination on the title screen: Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, START (this code works in every version).
  • The MSX2 port features 19 levels instead of 8. Instead of the story ending after destroying the Alien Heart, the game continues into many underground corridor levels and a few bases in between them. The final level is a deep red colored aliens' lair, and the final boss is some sort of portal between dimensions. All of this was, unfortunately, done at the cost of the game being a screen-to-screen scroller. Any of the new levels do not have unique music.
  • Even in the original arcade version, the player is only allowed to continue up to three times. If they fail to complete the game upon the fourth chance, the game will be entirely over and they will have to start once again from the beginning.
  • The arcade version is the only game in the Contra series to be titled Gryzor in PAL territories, as the next game, Super Contra (the arcade version), kept its original name while the NES version was titled Probotector, which was what the series was known as in PAL territories until the release of Contra: Legacy of War in 1997, when the Probotector was dropped in favor of the Contra.
  • In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, the game features several cameos of Konami arcade machines, including Contra.
  • On December 07, 2006 Konami released a Konami Live! Online Game Controller - Arcade Collection where when plugged into a PC, the arcade version could be played through a web application along with other games such as Gyruss, Time Pilot, Scramble and Yie Ar Kung Fu.
  • In the 1989's cult following film The Wizard, a Contra NES version (played on both the console and PlayChoice-10 cabinet) is shown as one of the games the protagonist plays.
  • In the 1991 film, The Story Lady, Alexandra plays the NES version of Contra.

Related products[]

See also[]


  1. Top 10 Tuesday: Toughest Games to Beat at IGN. (archived: June 1, 2019)
  2. Nintendo Power - 20th Anniversary Issue!. Nintendo Power, issue #231 (August 2008), page 71.
  3. Contra (NES) | Secret Ending Message at The Cutting Room Floor.
  4. Contra [Model GX633] at Gaming History.

External links[]

Bill RizerLance BeanRD008RC011
Red Falcon
Defense WallGarmakilmaGromaidesGodomugaGuldafDograGordeaFinal Gate (NES) • Emperor Demon Dragon God JavaGomeramos King
JungleBaseWaterfallBase 2Snow FieldEnergy ZoneHangar ZoneAlien's Lair
Contra Original Video Game Soundtrack