Contra (NES/Famicom)

This port of Contra for the NES brought the same action from the arcade game into the home of players, with improved controls and added levels. The story remains the same; battle Red Falcon's army and destroy their secret base to save earth from their imminent invasion.

Editor's review

The original Contra may have been a hit at the arcades and made its share of money on ports for personal computers, but it was Konami's NES port of the game that turned the series into a true icon of platform shooters and kept people talking. Retaining most of the mechanics from the arcade version, and at the same time perfecting them, provided millions of gamers with hours of fun. Whether you were playing with a friend or by yourself, there was no denying the simple joy of mowing down hundreds of killer robots and nasty aliens.

Due to the limited palette of the NES, it is obvious the graphics are nowhere near as detailed as those found in the arcade. However, going by the standards, Contra has some rather nice graphics although it's lacking a bit in the animations department. All the environments are done with detail and if you happen to own the japanese game you're in for a few extra graphical tricks that foreign versions couldn't handle. The flaws I mentioned can easily be ignored because the center of this game is not the graphics, but the control and gameplay.

Speaking of which, if you've ever played a Contra game the one thing you can instantly tell about it is that the control is very responsive and you'll never feel cheated because of some clumbsy movement. Jumping can be a slight problem sometimes though, as the character can't turn the other way instantly in the middle of a jump. This may cost you a life or two when jumping over pits. Many of the minor control issues were cleared up in the games that follow, enabling the player to jump with more precicion and lock the character's position to keep firing in the same direction.

Contra has some of the best sound you will find in a NES game. The songs sound even better and catchier (who can forget the enemy base theme or the stage clear fanfare?), and the sounds of machine guns and exploding bombs have been emulated well. A game like this demands loudness, and Contra delivers.

Contra for NES remains, despite its age, one of the best entries in the series. You'd think a game so repetitive, short and simplistic would have a negative effect and turn people away from playing it, but it's actually those very characteristics that make it so worth playing over and over again.

Released Japan  February 9, 1988
North America  February 2, 1988
Europe  December 28, 1990
Other titles Probotector (Europe)
Platform Famicom / NES
Ports Nintendo DS (Contra 4 bonus)
Windows (Konami Collector's Series)
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Staff Shigeharu Umezaki (director)
Shinji Kitamoto (director)
Hidenori Maezawa (composer)
Players 1-2 players

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