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The Contra Helicopter (unofficial name) is an iconic support airship that has appeared in many installments of the Contra series. It is a military helicopter that generally appears at the beginning of the game carrying the squad to their mission and often reappears at the end to rescue and bring them back to safety.

History[]

A rather standard-looking military helicopter that generally appears at the beginning of the game to deploy the Contra units into the battlefield. It is generally seen from a frontal angle and slightly turned toward one side.

In certain occasions, this friendly airship has played a more interactive role throughout the ongoing campaigns, whether it is by carrying the squad along a treacherous battlezone while they do their part by fending off hostiles during the ride, or by serving as an improvised platform which the soldiers can cling onto while engaging the enemy.

In some games, the helicopter is miraculously seen reappearing out of nowhere at the end –usually after a big explosion or after defeating the final boss– to save the heroes from what would otherwise had been a certain death, as well as sometimes being seen in the ending cutscene and/or while the end credits roll, carrying the heroes back to the base.

Appearances[]

Contra (NES)[]

First appearance of the helicopter in the series. The aircraft is only seen during cutscenes; at the end of the Famicom version, where it awaits to pick up the heroes, and in the ending of both the NES and Famicom versions, where it is seen barely escaping the Galuga Island as it explodes. Exclusively in the Famicom version, during the liftoff escape cutscene, a flag can be seen on the side of the chopper. Up to six flags can be posted on the helicopter, one for each consecutive victory of the game.[2]

In Probotector (NES), the helicopter is changed into a futuristic looking jet aircraft.[3]

Super Contra[]

The helicopter made its most iconic appearance in this game, being seen from its now iconic frontal and slightly turned toward a side angle for the first time and setting the standard of how it would appear in most sequels.

The aircraft appears at the beginning of the game, hovering in place at the entrance of Base Area 1 with a rope extended toward the ground, which the Contra soldiers use to descend to the battlefield to begin their mission.

In the NES port, Super C, the helicopter can be seen once again at the end of the game during the end credits, carrying the heroes back to the base.

In the PAL version of Super C, Probotector II, the helicopter dismisses its military appearance and instead features a more futuristic-like design.

Wai Wai World 2: SOS!! Parsley Castle[]

The helicopter also appears in this Konami mascots crossover game, although in a rather unorthodox form, as it is actually none other than TwinBee, another iconic Konami character and the main protagonist of the series of the same name. It is seen from the front and slightly turned toward a side angle as its Super Contra counterpart, appropriately deploying the game's protagonist, Rickle, in the Contra-themed jungle stage.

Contra III: The Alien Wars[]

In Contra III, the airship went through a drastic redesign, now looking much more aerodynamic and carrying a large missile underneath. It also plays a more interactive role this time around, mainly in the Air Battle stage, where it catches up with the heroes during a high speed chase and gives them a ride while they are in pursuit of the nefarious enemy battleship Dodriguez. Along the way, the heroes must fend off Sasaki, a rocket ninja miniboss.

As the helicopter approaches the giant enemy carrier, it launches its missile at it with the heroes still clinging to it, allowing them to finally catch up with the vessel, where they then carry on a desperate fight high up in the sky in an attempt to stop it. An infinite number of identical missiles will then start entering the screen from the left side during the rest of the encounter, implying the existence of many more helicopters from the Contra Force, allowing the soldiers to have impromptu platforms where they can cling onto to keep on fighting. The heroes ultimately manage to destroy the battleship and a huge explosion ensues as a result, covering the whole screen and leaving their fate unknown for a moment. However, as visibility returns, they are shown to be safe and sound, as somehow the helicopter managed to arrive in time and save them from an otherwise certain demise.

A similar scene takes place at the end of the game, as the helicopter manages to enter the aliens' hive from a big crater-like opening on the surface, right after the heroes had finally defeated their leader, Emperor Demon Gava. However, this victory is shortly lived as his still living brain awakens one last time and adopts the form of an armored beast which starts climbing up the tunnel in their pursuit, in a last ditch effort to stop them from escaping. Its attempt is futile, though, as the soldiers manage to keep it at bay and the monster ultimately dies. The credits then start rolling, showing the helicopter carrying the heroes back to the city for a well-deserved celebration.

The helicopter does not appear in the Game Boy port, Contra: The Alien Wars.

Contra: Hard Corps[]

Main article: Air Police

While the helicopter doesn't actually appear in this game, a new support aircraft known as the Air Police is introduced to play a similar role. The vessel, which now uses jet propulsion, still bears a similar design to its Contra III counterpart. It mainly appears in the Air Combat stage, where it gives a ride to the Hard Corps in their haste to reach a research center that is under attack.

It later reappears at the end of the Missile stage, where it saves the heroes from an almost certain death after they succeed in destroying a missile carrying the alien cell.

Contra: Shattered Soldier[]

While no helicopter appears to aid the heroes in this game, a military carrier plays that role instead. The plane somewhat performs a similar function to the helicopter from Contra III, by launching a missile with the heroes clinging to it to enter the battlefield.

The aircraft first appears in the opening cutscene, where Lucia is seen riding on a fired missile. In-game, the carrier reappears in certain stages; it first appears in the Fortress stage, where it makes a crash landing onto the area, prompting the heroes to make a forceful ejection onto the battlefield. It later appears in the Sanctuary stage, where it serves as a stepping platform for the heroes to fight against the pursuing enemy aircraft, Mr. Heli-Robo (in a similar scene as the Wonderbird miniboss fight from Contra: Hard Corps).

Ironically, Mr. Heli-Robo's model would later play the role of the Contra helicopter in the sequel, Neo Contra.

Neo Contra[]

The participation of the helicopter in this game takes a rather ludicrous role, as the heroes can actually be seen fighting while running on top of the helicopter's spinning blades in a very unpractical, yet still fun to watch way.

The helicopter is actually a reused model of Mr. Heli-Robo, a boss from Contra: Shattered Soldier (or probably the same ship reprogrammed), although it doesn't transform into a robot this time around.

Contra 4[]

In Contra 4, the helicopter is once again given a more interactive role. While it can be seen at the beginning of the game deploying the Contra units, in a scene reminiscent of its first appearance in Super Contra, it reappears at the end of the first stage for the second phase of the Underground Fort boss fight, serving as an improvised platform the player can use their grappling hook to cling onto, allowing them to attack the upper core more easily.

The Helicopter doesn't return until once more at the end of Stage 9, where it dives inside an exploding Black Viper for the heroes to grapple onto in time. As the giant alien erupts in a white flash of light with all of its presence eradicated, the hero(es) is seen holding onto the helicopter to safety above Earth's atmosphere with a congratulatory tune playing for a mission well done.

Contra ReBirth[]

In Contra ReBirth, the helicopter is actually piloted by none other than fellow legendary Contra commando Lance Bean himself. It appears at the first and last stages of the game, offering the other soldiers to hitch a ride back to Earth after the mission has been accomplished.

Hard Corps: Uprising[]

A chopper piloted by Bahamut's elite soldier squadron appears multiple times throughout their missions. It is commonly seen at the beginning of many stages, where it flies in and drops off the elite heroes for deployment to their missions. It is then later seen during many of those same stages' end, where the chopper tends to save the elite squadron of heroes from deadly disasters. In most cases, the player(s) must manually jump on board the landing legs of the chopper in order to clear a stage.

In the opening introduction cutscene of Uprising, a large Winnebago-like cruiser is shown being flown and ultimately shot down before the elite soldiers appear from out of the airborne wreckage, ready to strike at the soldiers below. This ship heavily resembles the one from Shattered Soldier.

Contra: Operation Galuga[]

Appearance-wise, the Contra Helicopter appears as a navy-blue sleek thin model equipped with a frontal gun. The letters E.M.C. can be seen etched on its side walls, confirming it belonging to the Contra Unit.

One such Helicopter is seen carrying commandos Bill and Lance toward the Jungle of Galuga Island, preparing them for an airdrop below. It isn't long into the commando's island getaway that the chopper is seen damaged and crashing toward their way, engulfing part of the dense forest in flames. This wreckage does not harm the commandos but does get them plenty ticked off. This is one of the few rare instances where the Helicopter is destroyed. A replacement helicopter is later shown after Java's defeat, being piloted by SC0RP1, rescuing the victorious commandos from a trip into the sea.

The helicopter's appearances are virtually identical in the game's Arcade mode. One is seen air dropping currently selected playable commandos toward the Jungle, up to four at a time. Each character has their own pose when onboard the chopper. A near-illegible note can be seen on one of the chopper walls.

Gallery[]

Screenshots[]

Sprites and models[]

Artworks[]

Trivia[]

  • Predator Helicopter

    Helicopters from Predator.

    The 1987 guerrilla/science fiction-themed action film Predator, a film that has inspired many staple designs of the Contra franchise, may have lead to the inspiration of a few details concerning the Contra Helicopter:
    • The Contra Helicopter appears to be based off the same type of warfare helicopters seen in Predator.
    • Contra 4's introductory cutscene with all four main playable characters onboard may have been inspired from the helicopter scene from the movie, where all the soldiers are seen chastising and preparing to enter the jungle battle. The Contra Helicopter flies the heroes inside the Jungle, in a similar setting as in the film.
  • The main body of the aircraft seen in Contra: Shattered Soldier seems to resemble an armored car. This is further implied in the beginning of the Fortress stage, where it mimics the opening of the stage from Contra: Hard Corps.
    • Coincidentally, this aircraft also bears a slight resemblance to the Eagle 5 from the 1987 science fiction parody film Spaceballs.
  • The helicopter makes a cameo appearance in Olive's Bombergirl trailer.

See also[]

References[]

  1. Seen piloted by Lance Bean in Contra ReBirth.
  2. Contra (NES) | Ending Cutscene at The Cutting Room Floor.
  3. Contra (NES) | European Differences at The Cutting Room Floor.
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