Review Date: March 22, 2021

Release Date: February 2, 1988

Platform: NES

Publisher: Konami

Genre: Shooter

Anecdotes: Searching around the Internet, I would swear that Contra was one of the best games ever made. I loaded the game up, and this game felt like just another 2 player shooter taking place in a jungle. I’ve already seen several of these and they all feel the same. This one was no exception, until I saw the boss at the end of level 2 and the new perspective in stage 2. While it’s far from the best game ever, it does bring a lot of improvements to the formula.

Description: Here’s yet another game where two half naked idiots go fighting hordes of enemies that can all kill these guys in one shot. I’d copy and paste the Ikari Warriors review, but this game is nowhere near as horrible as that one.

This giant machine is the boss of stage 1. Notice how he can get down to the ground to shoot.

Positives: Comparing this to Ikari Warriors, which I admit can make ANY game look good by comparison, I found Contra to be much more innovative and it had much better level design, with bosses at the end. The guys (named Bill and Lance) move faster and more smoothly, and there is much less flickering.

Stage 3: The Waterfall. I’m at the top of it and ready to ride the giant tooth.

So, let’s talk about the level design. The colors are vibrant and the settings look wonderful. I liked the perspective change when going into the bases and stages 2 and 4. The electricity blocking the way is a realistic way to prevent players from running in and shooting point blank. The bosses at the end were varied and it wasn’t hard to figure out what to shoot at.

Although I’m unsure if I like the border there, the rest of the stage layout is well done.

Negatives: Ok, seriously, what is the deal with these late 80s games? I read all of the complaints about the underrepresentation of women, and I think those criticisms are fair. But then I read about the oversexualization of women, but I wonder if those people have ever seen the men. This is at least the fourth game in the era where I’ve played as some half naked guy in a combat situation. I don’t get it. Who goes into combat without any armor on? Do they think that’s even remotely practical? Where are the bulletproof vests? Where are the pads? It’s no wonder these guys go down in one hit; they’re not dressed properly. It’s even stranger here because all of the artwork with the game (and even the title screen) has the guys actually wearing clothes.

Whether intentional or not, that means these guys have zero defense. One hit knocks them out. This makes the game very difficult. Konami included a code to boost players up to 30 lives, but if players have to use a secret code to make the game remotely possible to get through, what does say about the game? It shouldn’t be necessary to complete the game, but if it is, it really shouldn’t be a “secret” code.

More Screenshots:

Boss of level 2. Notice the camera is behind him.
This is interesting. Without changing the camera at all, stage 3 went from side view climbing to a boss battle that can be perceived as first person. Impressive.

Grade: B

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