From its run-and-gun power fantasy action, to being the most important use of the Konami Code ever, Contra on the NES is one of the most iconic games of its time. Everyone in my circle knew and loved it, and I would discover years later through the internet that the game struck a chord with much of the gaming populace around the world. Decades later, that game holds up incredibly well relative to the modern action games of today.
While the series would carry on for many years after that NES release, none of the franchises subsequent releases came even close to capturing the worldwide frenzy of the original. Super C was the first of those subsequent releases that fell short of its predecessor’s success. However, it didn’t fall short because it was a bad game.
In a world overtaken by aliens robots, mankind’s only hope is one-or-two trigger happy rebels who can run, jump, and blast everything in sight. Even with the “obvious” difference in enemy types, I wouldn’t blame you for mixing up Blazing Chrome as a successor in the Contra series. Though it doesn’t bear the name, it certainly packs the same punch while making a number of meaningful improvements to the formula.
Who needs an army when you have one-or-two shirtless heroes with big guns? Though it doesn’t make sense that the protagonists in the Contra franchise can’t find any backup (or clothing) on the planet to help them protect the Earth from an alien invasion, the circumstances made for some great action games in the 80s and 90s. Contra Anniversary Collection compiles most of the games released during the franchise’s peak years, including the long-absent NES original and a few international versions with a few unique twists.
A little while back, I was watching Kris from Double Jump stream Deltarune. At a certain point, our conversation hit a big fork in the road. When it comes to what you enjoy more out of games, are you in it for gameplay or story? Though the true answer for everyone probably lies somewhere in the middle, I slant heavily towards gameplay, and she slants heavily towards story. Thinking back, it makes a lot of sense for why our taste in games is so different.
But then it got me thinking about the common ground we do have: Nintendo. How do we have this company’s work in common when we want very different things out of our games?
As much as I love the first and third iterations of the franchise, Contra as a whole has way more misses than hits. The franchise has struggled to find new ways to freshen up the formula, especially when it haphazardly forayed into 3D. As a spiritual successor to Contra, Hard Corps: Uprising gives the series an anime twist thanks to the handy work of Arc System Works, who are best known for Guilty Gear and BlazBlue.
Nothing says “nostalgia” to me quite like Contra on the NES. As far as video games that got me into the medium, Contra is right up there with Super Mario in terms of influence. As an impressionable youngster with an itch for action, big guns and explosions, Contra was right up my alley. The scenario of two guys with big guns saving the world from an alien apocalypse was so appealing to me at the time, especially when I was watching Saturday morning cartoons pre-Ninja Turtles, which were relatively G-rated. Contra at the time seemed edgy and beyond my age. I loved it for that.