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Operation C, released as Contra (コントラ Kontora?) in Japan and as Probotector in the PAL region, is a run-and-gun platformer video game developed by Konami for the Game Boy handheld console. It was published by Ultra Games in the US and by Palcom Software in the PAL Region released in 1991. It is the first portable installment in the Contra series and features gameplay and graphics similar to the Nintendo Entertainment System versions of Contra and Super C.

Plot[]

The player takes the role of Bill Rizer, who must neutralize an enemy force that is secretly storing an alien cell in their base.

As with the previous Contra games for the NES, the exact details of the game's settings vary between supplemental materials: in the Japanese version, the enemies are identified as the army of an unnamed hostile nation in an isolated South Pacific island that is seeking to use an alien cell to produce military weapons of mass destruction; in the American version, the enemies are working for an alien entity that calls itself "Black Viper".

Likewise, the main character's identity was changed from Bill Rizer to Lance Bean (the Player 1 and Player 2 characters, respectively, from the previous arcade and console games). The Database in Contra: Shattered Soldier follows the Japanese storyline and also states the story takes place in the year 2635 A.D., with Bill Rizer being sent to shut down the operation.[1] Contra 4's updated chronology further mixes up the identity of this/these commando(es), changing the identity of the main character from Bill/Lance to Mad Dog and Scorpion, which were the western localized codenames for Bill and Lance, respectively. However, it must be noted that since Contra 4ʼs additions to the main storyline don't fit well with the original established Japanese chronology, it is arguable if they are still accepted as part of the official canon (although some of its ideas have been retained, such as the existence of Mad Dog and Scorpion as individual characters).

Gameplay[]

Hayanos 614 - Operation C - 01

The game has a total of five stages, many of which share design similarities to Super C (the NES version of Super Contra). The three odd-numbered stages (1, 3, and 5) are played from a side-view perspective, while the two even-numbered ones (2 and 4) are top-view. The soundtrack consists primarily of arranged background music from the original Contra, with the exception of a few tunes (namely the Area 2 BGM theme, the Stage Select theme, the sub-boss theme in Area 3, and the ending theme).

Operation C was the first Contra game to feature auto-fire as a default feature, resulting in the removal of the Machine Gun power-up from previous games. The Laser is also removed, leaving only the Spread Gun and Fire Gun from Super C. However, the game introduces a new Homing Gun which fires bullets that chase after enemies. The Spread Gun starts out as a three way shot but it can be upgraded to a five-way version after picking it up a second time. Unlike Super C, the Fire Gun does not have chargeable shots, while the Barrier and Rapid Fire power-ups are not featured in this installment either.

Stages[]

Stage Name Bosses Music
1 Area 1 Small Missile Submarine Nouei Dense Forest Battle
2 Area 2 Armored Vehicle Tucker ×2
Armed Truck Goochie
Large Armored Vehicle Kirgey
Area 2 BGM
3 Area 3 Kazart 408 + Reinforced Parts
Armed Anti-Gravity Vehicle Kazart 408
Waterfall of Bloodshed
4 Area 4 Old Biological Experimental Plant Giwala Fortress in the Ice
5 Area 5 Bipedal Escort Weapon Hayanos 614
Black Viper
Fortress in the Fire
Horrible Heartbeat

Versions and re-releases[]

Black Viper - Operation C - 01

The Konami GB Collection version features Game Boy Color support.

The Japanese version, simply titled Contra, allows the player to begin the game at any of the first four stages. The American and European versions only allows the Stage Select feature to be available by inputting the Konami Code.

While the rest of the game was left unchanged for the American version, the plot of the game as featured in the instruction booklet was altered for the American localization (as detailed above). The European version, Probotector, changed the main character and some of the enemies into robots, much like the European localizations of the NES installments.

Operation C is included in the Game Boy compilation Konami GB Collection, Vol. 1 released in 1997 in Japan and in 2000 in Europe. The Japanese version is identical to the original release but with added Super Game Boy border support. Even though the version of the game included with the European compilation is titled Probotector, it retains the original human characters from the Japanese release and adds full Game Boy Color support.

Reception[]

Nintendo Life gave the game an 8/10 score, praising the gameplay, controls, enemies, weapons and music, while suggesting that the game borrowed from Super C a bit too much. It also criticized the game's lack of multiplayer option.

Gallery[]

Packaging artwork[]

Promotional artwork[]

Miscellaneous[]

Trivia[]

  • The "C" in Super C and Operation C was originally intended to be short for "Commando" and not "Contra". This is stated on the box and packaging materials for all the home versions of Super Contra in North America (including the DOS and Amiga versions). This was likely due to the word "Contra" being associated with the Iran-Contra affair, which was still going on at the time.
  • This is the first Contra game to be directly developed for consoles and not an arcade port.
  • The story in Probotector, the European version of this game, implies that this is the same mission as the one from the first game. However, such statement is considered non-canon, as the event of Operation C took place after the first two games in the official timeline.
  • The name of the final boss, Hayanos 614, was possibly inspired by Yukari Hayano, one of the programmers of the game.
  • The Indian Ocean raid, also known as "Operation C" or "Battle of Ceylon" in Japanese, was a naval sortie carried out by the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1942.

References[]

  1. Operation C in the Database.
  2. Restored by Jefferson Taylor. @JTaylorPro at X (April 19, 2023).
  3. Restored by Jefferson Taylor. @JTaylorPro at X (April 19, 2023).

External links[]

Operation C
Organizations
Contra
Bill RizerLance BeanMad DogScorpion
Unnamed enemy nation's army
NoueiTuckerGoochieKirgeyKazart 408 + Reinforced PartsKazart 408GiwalaHayanos 614Black Viper
Stages
Area 1Area 2Area 3Area 4Area 5
Soundtrack
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