Contra Wiki
Contra Wiki

Difficulty is an option setting featured in many Contra titles. It allows a player to adjust the game's overall playability level. An easier game is less stress-worthy, while a harder game requires much more patience to clear. The difficulty setting often affects a game's ending. Not all games feature a difficulty option.

In many (if not all) cases, harder difficulties possess more enemies with faster movements and additional HP.

Game specific information[]

Contra III: The Alien Wars[]

Contra III 99 Lives Option

The Difficulty option was first introduced in Contra III: The Alien Wars. Changing the difficulty will affect the game's ending shown, along with various other gameplay changes.[1] If the game is cleared on a difficulty below Hard mode, the player will start immediately on the next higher difficulty they recently cleared, carrying over their score, lives and weapons into the next playthrough. The changes are as noted:

Easy mode
  • Some enemies' speed is slightly reduced. This includes Ledders, who fire at a significantly slower rate.
  • Man-Faced Mutts won't attack when the player passes by and will instead remain in the background.
  • In the first phase of the Tri-Transforming Wall Walker fight, the drill does not extend at the hang bar.
  • Searle is capable of producing only four attacks: the Walker, Brain, Eye, and Shield Orbs. This affects its roulette spin, where the orbs are more spread out when rotating.
Normal mode
  • Normal mode is the default game mode.
Hard mode
  • In the standard side-view stages, the Ledders and Grenade Throwers projectiles are fired twice as fast.
  • In top-down stages, enemies that fire bullets will fire them twice as rapid. If a player is in a prone position, escape from enemy bullets becomes much more difficult.
  • Dome Defenders use exclusive methods of attack, such at requiring the player to face 180° away to open fire.
  • The large fireballs in Stage 1 are indestructible.
  • Taka's top hive hole where flying alien creatures are released is indestructible (it will explode once the boss is defeated). Also, Taka's core tends to fire two bullets during battle instead of one.
  • The Bosco Spider's cooldown time after performing a spin is halved, giving the player less time to target its core.
  • Dodriguez's electric cannons are indestructible.
  • Stage 5's swirling sands spin the player at a faster rate than normal.
  • Gomeramos King's Eggrons produce Buggers at a faster rate, potentially swarming the area.
  • Kimkoh's projectile attacks are slightly faster.
  • Some of Searle's attacks are tougher to avoid. These include a faster Snake Orb, taller Stone Orbs, more Blue Orbs during its attack, and a faster Thorn Orb attack with increased thorn orbs and items.


Image Description Notes
(Japan, translated): Easy Mode Operation Completed

Good job!! However, you didn't completely destroy the enemies in this operation. The true big boss is lurking somewhere. Challenge yourself in a higher class mode and sweep them up next time!!

(Japan, translated): Normal Mode Operation Completed

Your actions have defeated humanity's greatest crisis. However, the battle to protect the freedom and peace of Contra will continue from now on.

For the Japanese version, the text is placed on the bottom, below the image montage, as the images are displayed when clearing Normal mode in the Japanese version. In international releases, as the image is shared with that of Easy Setting, only a starry background was added to the Normal ending image.
(Japan, Translated): Congratulations!! Finally, you have achieved a perfect victory. You are the real hero! Your name will eternally go down in history for many people.

Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX[]

The Hard setting from Contra III is not present in this port. The Easy setting from Contra III is named "Novice", and Easy mode ends the game after Stage 4 is cleared.

Contra: Shattered Soldier[]

On Easy mode, the game ends after clearing Stage 5, with a message telling the player to play on at least Normal difficulty to unlock the rest of the game content.

Contra 4[]

Difficulty is limited to Arcade mode only. As with Contra III, difficulty will affect the ending shown. The following features implemented:

Easy mode
  • The game ends after clearing Stage 7.
  • All weapons acquired will automatically be at Level 2 power, and weapons cannot be dropped.
  • The player starts with 10 lives.
Normal mode
  • The player starts with 5 lives.
Hard mode
  • Number of Continues = 3.
  • The running speed of both Greeders and Orians become faster.
  • Enemies' bullet attacks travel twice as fast. This is easily seen by Dirk McShooters and turret soldiers.
  • The Jungle stage features an exclusive background music track.
  • Proboterrors cannot be permanently destroyed by weapons fire; if they are downed, they will always reform an infinite amount of times.

The ending shown is based on the difficulty chosen:

Image Description Notes
Contra 4 Ending Easy 2
"You'll never see the ending on Easy! Try playing on a higher difficulty for a real Contra experience!"
A short and simple two-screen message stating the player must play on a higher difficulty to view the ending. Immediately plays once Stage 7 is cleared.
Contra 4 Ending Normal 1

Contra 4 Ending Normal 2
"The Alien Wars have ended at long last! With Black Viper destroyed, the motives behind the alien attacks remained a mystery. Whatever the truth may have been, it was lost to time as the invaders became a mere footnote in the pages of history. A footnote which read: They sure blew up good."
Bill Rizer is standing in the middle of a ruined portion of the City, surrounded by many human bystanders, whom are happily cheering the hero for saving the world once more.
Contra 4 Black Viper Corpse

Contra 4 Ending Hard 2

Contra 4 Ending Hard 3
"The Alien Wars have ended at long last! With Black Viper destroyed, the motives behind the alien attacks remained a mystery. Whatever the truth may have been, it was lost to time as the invaders became a mere footnote in the pages of history. A footnote which read: They sure blew up good."
"You've done the impossible, and there are no more aliens left to blast--you've mastered Contra on Hard Mode. Go home, soldier. You've earned it. You are the ultimate Contra; consider yourself a hero."
An image of Bill Rizer standing victorious on top of a defeated Black Viper's motionless husk with a flag in one hand and the Contra helicopter flying away toward the sun. The message is the same as Normal mode, but with additional lines added to the end.

Contra ReBirth[]

The final boss stage, along with the true ending, cannot be accessed when playing on the Easy difficulty setting. The hardest difficulty, Nightmare, is unlocked when the game is cleared on Hard Mode.

  • The lower the difficulty, the lower HP most enemies will possess. Likewise, higher difficulties increase enemy HP.
  • On Easy mode, enemy projectile speed is significantly reduced, allowing the player more reaction time.
  • On Nightmare mode, some additional enemies are present, an example being an additional red Power Loader in Satellite Warzone.
  • Enemies spawning rate is greatly increased on higher difficulty settings. Greeder type enemies also move slightly faster.
  • Some enemies are given additional attacks on higher difficulty settings (for example, in Hard and Nightmare modes in Stage 3, if the player accidentally shoots a Robot Llama on the head, it will turn around and shoot a laser beam at them from its mouth).
  • Additional Power-up Capsules appear in higher difficulty settings carrying the Normal gun (N), which will result on the player downgrading their weapon if picked up by accident.
Nightmare Mode
  • Ground forces run much faster.
  • Many enemy bullets have increased speed.
  • Boss attacks become slightly more powerful or have additional stronger effects. Some bosses may perform exclusive attacks.
  • Blue rings can be additionally fired from every defeated non-boss enemy or enemy object. These blue rings can be destroyed using weapons' fire
  • Some enemies require more hits to destroy.
  • The N power-up is present, available starting on Stage 2.


  1. Game Ending | Contra III: The Alien Wars at The Cutting Room Floor.