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This page is about the video game. For the organization, see Contra Force (Contra Force organization).
For the original timeline organization, often called "Contra Force", see Contra (organization).

Contra Force is a run-and-gun action platformer video game released by Konami for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992 in North America. It is a spinoff of the Contra series, being the third game in the series released for that console, following the original Contra and Super C, although the game's plot and setting are unrelated to previous entries.

The game was originally scheduled to be released in Japan under the title of Arc Hound (アークハウンド Āku Haundo?), with no ties to the Contra series, but was canceled.

With the release of Contra 4, Contra Force has been officially declared "not part of the official series timeline".[1]

Plot[]

In 1992, C-Force –a task force comprised of former military professionals– is formed to protect Neo City from terrorism. One day, the team's leader, Burns, receives a phone call from their informant, "Fox", who tells him the Head of Intelligence is being threatened by a criminal organization known as D.N.M.E. Burns arranges a meeting with Fox at the harbor to learn more about the situation, only to find his dead body when he arrives at the rendezvous destination. Now, it's up to C-Force to save Neo City from D.N.M.E.

Gameplay[]

Contra Force is a run-and-gun game, similar to other titles of the Contra series. When the game is started, the player is given the option to select one of four playable characters, each with their own skills, weapons, and unique sprites (as opposed to the usual palette swaps from previous titles). In addition to Burns, the team's leader, the player can also choose between Iron, a heavy weapons expert; Smith, a sharpshooter; and Beans, a demolitions expert. Each character differs from the others, not only in the weapons they carry, but also in their speed and jumping ability. Players can switch between these four characters at any time, and even assign them to primitive AI for a limited time assist. Similar to the Famicom version of Contra, a stage transitional cutscene involving the player character will display the icon of the currently played character.

The game consists of five stages. The odd-numbered stages (1, 3 and 5) are played from the standard side-view perspective, while the even-numbered stages (2 and 4) are played from an overhead perspective (similar to the ones in Super C and Operation C). The objective of the game is to get to the end of each stage while fighting several enemies that stand in the heroes' way and face a large and powerful boss at the end.

The controls are similar to previous Contra titles. In the side-view stages, the player can walk left or right, as well as crouch and jump, with the exception of characters being unable to aim diagonally down unless jumping. Also, unlike previous titles in the series, characters in Contra Force crouch instead of adopting a prone position (Beans being the only exception). In the top-view stages, the player can move in eight directions but cannot jump or crouch.

Instead of the instant power-ups from previous Contra games, the player counts with a power selection meter which shows what power-ups they can activate (similar to the Power Meter from the Gradius series). The player must pick up Weapon Power-ups, which are hidden within the destroyable environmental sections of each stage. Picking up a Weapon Box will move the cursor on the indicator to the right by one increment. When the cursor is on the power-up the player wants to activate, they can confirm their selection by pressing the SELECT button. The items on the indicators for every character include a standard-issue pistol, two character-specific weapons, a Turbo Power power-up that increases the number of bullets onscreen, and a Rolling Attack that keeps the character invulnerable to enemy fire while in midair.

The player can pause the game at any time by pressing the START button and go to a sub-menu where they can change their current character. In this screen, the player can also assign another character to a second player or call forth a computer-controlled partner. The player can assign from one of six possible strategies to their AI partner, ranging between offensive and defensive behaviors. The partner character will then appear for five seconds to assist the player before disappearing. Once the assist character is gone, the player can keep calling them again from the sub-menu.

Each character has only three lives. If a single player loses all of their lives as one character, the game will end. The player can use the sub-menu to switch to another character that still has extra lives before that happens. In the 2-Player mode, if one player loses all of their lives, they can be assigned another character, but the character that lost all of their lives will become unusable (indicated as "Dead"). Unlimited chances to continue are provided.

The game suffers from constant slowdown, even with only one enemy on the screen.

Characters[]

Character Description
Burns
Burns
The team's leader. Equipped with Hand Grenades and Machine Gun, he is able to jump higher than others.
Smith - 02
Smith
The team's sharpshooter, specialized in long range and sneak attacks. Equipped with a Rifle and Homing Missiles, he can take down practically any opponent visible onscreen.
Iron - 01
Iron
Heavy weapons expert, uses a Flame Thrower and a Bazooka. The Bazooka has the highest firing rate among all characters' weapons.
Beans - 01
Beans
The demolition expert of the team. Specialized in close range and splash attack, he uses timed explosives, which can inflict damage all over the visible area. In addition, he is constantly crouching, so pressing ↓ on the Directional Pad actually causes him to go prone, making some enemies completely incapable of hitting him.

Upgrades[]

Name 1 2 3 4
Burns Hand Grenade Machine Gun TI* RA**
Smith Rifle Homing Missile TI RA
Iron Flame Thrower Bazooka TI RA
Beans Time Bomb Time Mine TI RA
* Increases onscreen bullet limit from two to three. The instruction booklet lists this as "TP", or "Turbo Power".
** Invincibility while jumping. No effect in top-view stages. Stands for "Rolling Attack", according to the instruction booklet.

Stages[]

Stage Name Boss Music
1 The Dewerdye Warehouse Warehouse Leader
2 The U.S.S. Unkmy Battleship Sub Leader
3 The Sheeshee Towers Construction Site* Airborne Leader
4 The Thunder Wolf Helicopter Convoy Leader
5 C-Force Headquarters Thunder Wolf
* In the cutscene after Stage 2, this stage is named the "Mati Building".

Development[]

Contra Force was originally planned to be released in Japan under the title of Arc Hound in 1991, originally having no ties to the Contra series. The game was announced in magazines such as Famicom Tsūshin and advertised in official Konami brochures with a scheduled October release, but this early version of the game was canceled.

Despite the cancelation of Arc Hound in Japan, the game was still localized for the North American market as a spinoff of the Contra series. Initially scheduled for a winter 1991 release, Contra Force was announced as the third console game in the series, being released sometime prior to Contra III: The Alien Wars (known as Contra IV at the time). However, Contra Force was delayed to a late 1992 release, a few months later than Contra III, causing the latter game to be renumbered prior to release.

A prototype of Contra Force is known to exist. The details surrounding it are currently unclear. A prototype image of the Command Select screen can be seen on the back of the final game's box cover.

Reception[]

Contra Force has received mixed reception. AllGame editor, Brett Alan Weiss, criticized the slowdown and flicker the game suffers from, but praised the added strategy of being able to select from different characters each with their own unique skills and weapons.

Gallery[]

Screenshots[]

Packaging artwork[]

Promotional artwork[]

Miscellaneous[]

Trivia[]

  • Unlike most entries in the Contra series, rather than being set in the 27th century, Contra Force concentrates on the exploits of an anti-terrorist task force in the year 1992 and is devoid of any science-fiction elements.
    • Coincidentally, 1992 is also the same year the game itself was released.
    • Despite the absence of aliens, a tiny UFO can be spotted looping along with the clouds during the credits reel. What this ultimately represents is entirely unclear.
    • This is also the first Contra game to not feature Bill Rizer, the iconic main protagonist of the series, in any sort of way.
  • Besides man-made machinery and vehicles, this game features normal unmodified humans as enemies. When the common human enemies die, they perform various death animations. A similar feature is later seen with Hard Corps Uprising.
  • In the English localization of Contra III: The Alien Wars, the ruined city of the first stage is identified as "The Streets of Neo City" (originally the city was nameless in the Japanese version); Neo City being where the events of Contra Force take place, making it one of the only links this game has with the rest of the Contra series, possibly being the same city just in a different time period (over six hundred years earlier).
    • This reference is carried over to the U.S. developed sequel Contra 4, where Neo City serves as the setting for the seventh stage.
  • The game's box cover depicts an earlier Command Select screen, where the backdrop is different than the one seen in the final. Notably, Burns is also spelled Burn, a name also seen on the box cover's description and in the game's instruction manual.
  • Contra Force, the Sega Saturn port of Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure are the only three games in the Contra series that are exclusive to North America. All three entries make no such appearance or mention within the Database of Contra: Shattered Soldier and have been officially declared as "not part of the official series timeline" in Contra 4.
  • The Character Select theme in Contra ReBirth is an arrangement of the Player Select theme from Contra Force.
  • Furthermore, the game's "Contra" logo at the title screen appears to be identical to the one used in the NES version of the original Contra.

References[]

  1. As stated in the Contra 4 Museum in-game.
  2. Restored by Jefferson Taylor. @JTaylorPro at X (December 1, 2022).

External links[]

Contra Force
Organizations
Contra Force
BurnsSmithIronBeans
D.N.M.E.
Warehouse LeaderSub LeaderAirborne LeaderConvoy LeaderThunder Wolf
Stages
The Dewerdye WarehouseThe U.S.S. Unkmy BattleshipThe Sheeshee Towers Construction SiteThe Thunder Wolf HelicopterC-Force Headquarters
Soundtrack
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