2 bottles of Corona, a chiped NES and one copy of Contra
(this will be a joint blog with RetroleChucks sections highlighted in Italics at the bottom of the page)
Thursday night turned into game night at RetroleChucks man cave, after defeating Gunstar Heroes we moved onto the next logical 2 player run and gun game…Contra!
Touted to be one of the toughest games out there we approached the challenge as any other well adjusted retro gamer aficionado would… ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A
So now with 30 lives at our disposal we took our trusty NES pads which brought up a conversation all of its own about how well made these little gems are. Nearly 30 years of abuse and they are still as good as ever, hats off to Nintendo, they do make a good pad!
Contra, the game itself is a simple enough prospect, keep firing and dodging bullets, you only get one hit per life! Once you are out of lives you start to ‘borrow’ from your brother in arms, once that’s depleted you get a continue.(not sure how many as we only used one). Weapon wise you get a nice array, spread, flame, laser and rapid fire, you also get two types of power ups, one being invincibility (timed) and a speed up for your default machine gun. These power ups come in the form of either flying boxes or boxes that are static in the scenery, shoot to release the goodies! Spread was found to be the top choice!
There are a few different types of level format, the side scrolling style is the most prominent through out but you also get a couple pseudo 3d style levels and a vertical Waterfall level. On all the ‘scroller’ levels there is an interesting mechanic which adds to the strategy of the game, if you move on too far and let your partner fall off the screen they will loose a life, very unforgiving but teaches the value of team work..
Playing the game retrospectively is sometimes quite tough because you don’t get the WOW of that certain point in time and I feel this game suffers from that. I can appreciate the solid quality NES visuals and mechanics but it does all blend into one with maybe the Waterfall level the only one that stands out to be memorable. Again at the time I bet it was the greatest thing ever but time hasn’t been amazingly kind, still very playable though.
We beat the game using one continue on our first play through which is not bad going considering some of the stupid mistakes we made. I’m not sure if we could do it with only 6 lives but we might have to revisit and try that out. The game is solid and still fun to play especially with company which is how I prefer to play anyhow.
Recommend retro game action!
I can also recommend the Corona, its a nice light beer perfect for gaming il be buying some more for the next challenger.
Our second retro night with purpose started with the excitement of running through what games to play and as Da22 mentioned earlier, Contra was a logical choice for us to follow on from Gunstar Hero’s. This game was imported from the USA as in Europe we had Probotector. Its the same game although the censorship at the time thought that Contra was to violent so instead we got Contra redrawn with robots vs robots instead of man vs man.
For me playing the NES just sums up why i love video gaming. From its iconic 80s looking design, super solid pads, the multitude of graphic styles, distinctive sounds to games that generally always had a high level of challenge to them. I admit for me these feelings have been lost with the newer Microsoft & Sony consoles. The content virtually being identical these last few generations apart from a few pieces of DLC content (who cares! right?).
As soon as i slotted Contra into the NES, i couldn’t wait to get the two player game under way. Da22 armed me with my refreshing beer and the Konami code was entered. Now im not new to Contra so i know how tough the game is. Ive tried multiple times to finish the game without the code and have always fallen short. With two players though (and a large number of gaming experience combined behind us) I feel that using the Konami code next time wont be needed.
Without going over too much of what Da22 has covered in his part (he has covered most of the relevant points) id like to give more of a personal view of the Contra experience. Put simply playing a run and gun game with two players needs good cooperation, tactics and constant communication between players. Contra is indeed one of these games. Without these skills you will get punished over and over again.
Straight off the bat i was very familiar with the first couple of levels but Da22 was new to Contra. Explaining the basics and weapon type we both very quickly formed tactics on how to cover the screen with as many bullets in our arsenal that we could throw at the enemies. With the enemies re-spawning and sometimes appearing from what seemed no where, creating a half and half screen cover tactic really started to pay off. Contra is fast and frantic and you can easily get killed with a slight second of hesitation or loss of attention. Da22 and I quickly found this out when navigating levels further on in the game.
As mentioned by Da22 some of the levels (waterfall) require you to really stay together and cover each other before traversing up each part of the water fall. Move too quickly ahead and your partner runs the risk of getting killed at the bottom of the screen. Staying in the same place for too long you run the risk of the enemies overwhelming you with bullets. Other examples of this is in ledge jumping to unknown platforms and level based crushing devices
I do love the boss battles in Contra. Playing with two players really makes the boss battles fairer. Covering each other and taking a part of the boss on at the same time just seems the way the game was meant to be played. One player Contra boss battles require nimble fingers and super sharp reflexes.
Defeating the last boss felt like an achievement to me and the feeling of satisfaction in defeating one of the legendary NES games. Contra is indeed still very much fun to play today as im guessing it was back in 1988 . Very simple, yet requires a high level of concentration and team work makes Contra a game that i will come back to again and again. Next time without the Konami code and more beer 😉
Another session in the future we might pluck up the courage to take on Contra’s sequel, Super C!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of VGR2016. More Retro Night post will be coming soon!
Get to da choppa!