Video Game Review: Contra (Arcade)

As much as I have played Contra on the original Nintendo, I hadn’t played the arcade version in decades. I always remembered it looking better and having better sound but I wanted to replay it just to see the differences between this original version and its more widely known NES port.

So this obviously does have better graphics and sound but it also has smoother gameplay.

Beyond that, the levels feel more condensed and the bosses take less hits to defeat.

However, even though you have the ability to continue after death, those continues are limited, so it’s extremely hard to actually play through the game in its entirety. In fact, I kept getting put down on the snow level, about midway through the game.

Still, this was a hell of a lot of fun and it should be considered an arcade classic in the same vein the NES version is considered an original Nintendo classic.

Rating: 8.25/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the arcade and classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games.

Video Game Review: Super C (NES)

Contra was a massive game for the original Nintendo. Super C, its first sequel also did well but it wasn’t a phenomenon like its predecessor. I think that the reason why has a lot to do with the Konami Code giving you 30 lives in Contra but only 10 in Super C, a game that was actually harder.

For the most part, this plays and feels exactly like the first game except for one major change.

The levels in the first game where you walk through two fortresses with your back to the camera and move forward in almost a 3D effect are now replaced with vertical scrolling bird’s eye view levels, which kind of suck. The main reason is that jumping is disabled due to the mechanics of the level and therefore, evading a volley of bullets from baddies is much more difficult. I’m not sure why they changed this but I prefer the alternate non-side scrolling levels of the first game a lot more.

However, the game sort of makes up for that mistake in the level design of the standard side scrolling levels. We now have levels that feature side and vertical scrolling, as well as slanted platforms that add to the challenge but make this game feel more advanced.

I also thought that most of the boss battles were really fun, even if the bosses here aren’t as iconic as those from its predecessor. In regards to bosses, my only complaint is that the final boss is one of the easiest in the franchise and a total cakewalk as a final boss. But at least the boss looked damn cool.

Ultimately, this isn’t as good as the first game but it’s still in the same ballpark and for fans that love Contra that haven’t actually given Super C a fair shot, it’s worth your time, especially because its just like playing new levels in a game you already love. But with less lives available, it’d behoove you to be less reckless.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games. But definitely the original Contra.

Video Game Review: Contra (NES)

What’s cooler than a badass 8-bit shoot’em up 2D side scroller from the ’80s? How about a badass 8-bit shoot’em up 2D side scroller that also goes vertical and throws a couple pseudo 3D dungeons into the mix?

Plus, this has pretty cool boss battles with bosses that look badass. And for something that just involves running, gunning and jumping, the game’s design doesn’t make it feel repetitive.

Konami were most definitely on their A-game in the ’80s, especially in the coin-op arcade market. This was originally an arcade game but it’s this port to the original Nintendo Entertainment System that is most remembered. In fact, I’d say that this game was beloved by a generation and for good reason.

The NES version is well designed, performs great and it runs pretty damn smoothly. Also, the controls are very good, as are the in-game physics. I also dig the hell out of the game’s music.

I love Contra and even if it is near impossible to beat without the infamous Konami Code, I would play through this game multiple times in a row, as a kid.

In 2019, this is still one of my favorite classic NES games to fire up on my emulator. I still play this thing at least once a month.

Plus, Contra evolved into a series with sequels that were also pretty good. Maybe not as iconic, but each entry brought something new to the series.

But it is this one, the original, that still stands tall and is, frankly, one of the best Nintendo games ever made.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: other side scrolling action games for the classic Nintendo, which narrows it down to about 8 dozen games.