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'Contra', is a master of the fighting spirit and guerrilla tactics.
~ Famicom intro
For other uses, see Contra (disambiguation).

Contra, distributed as Gryzor in Europe and Oceania, is a 1987 run-and-gun action game developed and published by Konami originally released as a coin-operated arcade game on February 20th, 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.

Plot

In 2633, two armed Elite Marine Commandos "Contra" named Bill and Lance 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 is up to this two man army to put an end to this madness once and for all.

Gameplay

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.

Antagonists

Red Falcon

Main article: Red Falcon

The main antagonist is the invading alien army known as Red Falcon. Their members serve as the in-game enemies and come in many different varieties; these include brainwashed human soldiers, machines, and alien creatures.

Aliens

Main article: Alien

The first alien appears as the boss of the third stage, the Waterfall. After this boss fight, other kinds of aliens are seen throughout the rest of the game. These range from small, deformed creatures to lethal mandibles mounted on walls and ceilings (as seen in the final stage, the Aliens' Lair).

Stages

Stage 1 - Jungle

Stage 2 - Base

Stage 3 - Waterfall

Stage 4 - Base 2

Stage 5 - Snow Field

Stage 6 - Energy Zone

Stage 7 - Hangar

Stage 8 - Alien's Lair

Soundtrack

  • Introduction - Contra
  • Stage 1 - Battle in the Dense Forest
  • Stages 2 and 4 - Labyrinth Fortress
  • Stage 3 - Waterfall of Bloodshed
  • Stage 5 - Fortress in the Ice
  • Stage 6 - Fortress in the Fire
  • Stage 7 - Fortress in the Fire (arcade), Battle in the Dense Forest (NES/Famicom)
  • Stage 8 - Horrible Heartbeat
  • Boss clear - Triumphant Return
  • Final Boss clear - Alien Dead Jingle
  • Ending / Credit Roll - Sandinista
  • Game Over - The End

Ports and remakes

  • Contra (LCD) — A 1989 handheld version in LCD format published by Konami.
  • Contra (MSX2) — A 1989 expanded port of Contra for the MSX2 Japanese home computer.
  • Contra (mobile) — A 2003 remake of Contra for mobile platforms.
  • Contra: Evolution — Another remake of Contra (2010) also for mobile platforms.

Reception

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.[3]

Related products

Gallery

Promotional artwork

Screenshots

  • Title screen
  • The main character starts with three lives.
  • Two player mode.

Videos

Contra (Japanese commercial)

Contra (Japanese commercial)

Trivia

  • The Famicom version of the game, Gryzor, 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).
  • The American version of this game was set in contemporary times, as opposed to the futuristic setting of the Japanese version. Also, Bill and Lance's names were changed to Mad Dog and Scorpion in the American release.
  • If the player keeps pressing the START and SELECT buttons before and during the credits, a hidden message will appear stating about Red Falcon being invincible and that it would soon take over "all the bases" (although it is not clear what bases they refer to).
  • In the European versions, the main characters (and some enemies) were replaced with robots due to a German law prohibiting showing violence to minors.
  • In the European versions, the third boss, Gromaides, has different arm colors.
  • 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 title screen is different 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 inbetween 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.

References

  1. http://games.ign.com/articles/774/774911p2.html
  2. (Magazine) Nintendo Power - The 20th Anniversary Issue!. Nintendo Power. 231. San Francisco, California: Future US. August 2008. p. 71.
  3. http://www.screwattack.com/shows/originals/screwattack-top-10s/top-ten-nes-games
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