Thursday, November 21, 2013

Contra NES - Review

This is a written review of the 1988 NES version of Contra. originally for the Arcades, this action game  is a Run & Gun shooter. And over the years this Konami title has become one of the most beloved games of the Nintendo's library. The video review is embedded below. and the written review continues below the video! [follow the link to see the video at youtube, instead of watching the embedded video here].


if you pay close attention to Contra as you play, you will notice how many 80's movie influenced the visual design of the game. Its evident in the cover. We have two soldiers, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. their the ones who have to fight the evil Red Falcon Organization. the one on the left looks a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his predator look as the character "Dutch". the one on the right looks a lot like Sylvester Stallone, in his "Rambo" look.

the US cover for Contra

arnold and stallone!

and in the middle of the two soldiers we have a xenomorph. AKA the alien creature from the alien movies!we also see cocooned walls just like in the alien movies. I like to describe contra having "Alien DNA" running through its blood.

 there is alien dna flowing through the blood that runs through contra

xenomorphs, eggs, facehuggers, and much more in contra


Contra is mainly a side scrolling game. but it also has 3D perspective levels, specifically stages 2 and 4, the "Base" levels. its a run and gun game, so you run around and gun things down. this shooter has you going mainly left and right, but the third level is a vertical level that has you going up an awesome waterfall! and throughout the game you have many weapons and upgrades at your disposal. the basic gun, or "pea shooter", is the one you will most use. but there are lasers, machine guns, and the famous spread gun. the spreader fires many shots at the same time. my co-host in the video review [g-troche] describes the spread gun as a gun that fires red balls of death. thats a great way to describe it! 

Stage 1 Jungle:

The Jungle stage is a simple and effective level. a level that has become iconic, as iconic as the stage itself. and the end boss is a barrier wall. take down the guy on top, the turrets, and then fire like hell at the weak spot! many games in the series have repeated the wall-boss concept, like Contra 3 Alien Wars and the DS Contra 4.and lets not forget how awesome the music is. the game's entire soundtrack is catchy and action packed! 

 the iconic stage 1-Jungle

take down the barrier!

Stage 2 and 4, Base:

The base stages are the 3D levels. they have you shooting forward. you have to take down enemies, turrets, and fire at the barriers weak spots to destroy the walls and move forward. I especially love it when you move forward. running forward in 8 bit looks cool!

 Stage 2, 3D levels!

 Stage 4

Stage 2 boss

Stage 4 boss

Stage 3 Waterfall:

The Waterfall stage is the vertical level. it has you going up a waterfall. lots of automated guns, and enemies hidden in the water and shooting at you. its one of my favorite stages, maybe my favorite. but you have to be careful in 2 player co-op. if one player advances too much, the camera catches up with the other player and kills him. it pisses troche off a lot. 

 going up!

 lots of platforming!

the end boss is an obvious reference to the Alien Queen from the Alien Movies! made iconic by the second one, James Cameron's "Aliens". amazing boss! 

Alien Queen

Stage 5 Snow Field:

Who doesn't love snow levels! snow levels are beautiful! this stage ends with a boss fight against an alien ship. UFO like in design. it fires smaller UFO's at you! Unsolved Mysteries would have a field day with this UFO! rest in peace Robert Stack!

 gorgeous level!

the UFO-like boss!

Stage 6 Energy Zone:

this night-time stage has you running and gunning until you get to a boss fight. a very weird boss fight. looks like an alien robot. and the backgrounds are great, with these pipes and tubes filled with energy all over the stage! and there are these environmental hazards, that throw fire at you. notice the patterns, and move when possible! be very careful!

 energy tubes!

alien robot thing!

Stage 7 Hangar:

The hangar is the trickiest of all the stages, as it if filled with all sorts of surprises. Dangerous surprises! bobby traps and many other dangerous things, even carts that can kill you if they touch you. You have to pay close attention to the patterns of many environmental hazards.. if you want to survive!

 study the patterns, and move when its safe!

destroy that wall! and enter the final stage!

Stage 8 Aliens Lair:

The final stage has many of the Alien references! facehuggers are coming at you. and the level has all the cocooned walls, just like in the alien movies. the walls have that techno-organic look made famous by the alien movies, and HR Giger's paintings that inspired the films look and the xenomorph itself. and there is one, a xenomorph, in the middle of the stage. its an awesome sight. just like the alien queen in stage 3. 
once you take down the end boss, the island explodes. and you have saved the world from the evil red falcon organization!

 end stage! alien visuals all around!

face-huggers coming at you! 

Xenomorph head! incredible!


Contra holds up quite well! the 8 bit graphics are colorful and have an old school retro charm to them. the music is catchy. and the gameplay is tight and fun. its a fast paced game. and its especially fun with a second player. the game was designed to be played in co-op. its still fun playing it solo. I have played it many times alone. including when I recorded the gameplay used in my video review. but I always have more fun playing it with friends and family. I grew up playing the game in co-op with my older brother. and have played it with many friends over the years. including G-troche, co host of the video!

g-troche and miself, co-hosting the video review

Contra holds up well, and its my belief that almost anyone can enjoy the game. as long as theres no unfounded bias against "retro games". i worry about many kids today, that call themselves gamers but only seem to care about next gen visuals. its not all graphics. its about gameplay. and contra has epic fun gameplay. and graphics that at the time were amazing, and that still look pretty if you look at them correctly and knowing the context of the games release date! Troche played it for the first time for the video, and he loved the game. And in my case i've been playing the game since I was a kid. So I deeply love the game and have a lot of nostalgia for it. 

examples of some of my other game videos. 

We hope you enjoyed this written review. and we hope to check out our video review by visiting my youtube channel djtitoflow. we have many other game videos, including a pilotwings review, resistance 1 review, wind waker hd unboxing, the retro days, etc. if you enjoy the video then subscribe to the youtube channel, and to this blogger. thank you for reading/watching.

title card for the video review. made in photoshop. 
instead of bill and lance, its troche and I in the game's title card