Contra for the original NES is still awesome as fuck!
I would be hard pressed to find anyone who disagrees with that statement. Sure, the sequel (Super C) did everything better, and then you have the majesty of Contra 3 and Contra: Hard Corps – two games that are both so fantastic that many fans are still divided as to which one is the superior game. The reason I want to talk about Contra is because it was my first, and I still love playing it.
When I am thrown into Stage 1 right after booting up this bastard, that utterly godlike Jungle theme makes me jizz in my pants. It is the most iconic tune in the Contra franchise, and one of my personal favourites. I also love how it will keep playing as you fight the boss at the end of the stage, because the really good stages don’t need boss themes. I say that, because I hate the “Base” stages. While they do have good music, I always dread going through these stages because they feel slow and repetitive. Thankfully, there’s only two of them, and the insanely epic boss theme helps make up for the boring shit I had to go through.
The only thing that’s better than shooting invading alien scum is shooting them with a kickass weapon upgrade, and Contra has no shortage of those. Sometimes it can be a pain in the ass to take those flying capsules down, especially if the upgrade immediately falls into a pit, or I become blind to enemy fire because I really wanted that Spread Gun. Then again, it’s the fucking Spread Gun, and it’s worth the risk; if it were the Flame Gun, I’d let it rot in hell. I have absolutely no use for fireballs spiralling toward the enemy and travelling slower than shit through a polar bear’s asshole.
The most common enemy in the game are these football soldiers, who run aimlessly around the screen, like a bunch of first graders. Even if I don’t really need to, I always shoot at them so I can watch them explode. Any game that has low-level grunts who explode upon killing them scores instant points with me. Meanwhile, the Heavily Armored Vehicles are the absolute worst, because they can soak up a lot of damage and will run me over if I don’t kill them quickly enough. So, unless I have my treasured Spread Gun, I’m fucked.
There are also alien enemies in the game who actually look like aliens. Aside from a majority of the bosses, I only get to see them in the final stage – and I always laugh my ass off. First, I fight a giant, angry penis with horns that shoots stir fried shrimp at me. Then, I have to navigate a long, treacherous techno cavern while avoiding these spiky shots of baby gravy that come out of these wall vaginas with teeth, only to be confronted by a giant heart that – aside from spawning face huggers – has no real way of defending itself. And killing it makes the whole island explode, ending the Red Falcon menace, just as the video game gods intended.
Like most gamers, this game was my first introduction to the Konami Code. We all know how the code works, and we all know it gives the player (or players) 30 lives. Without the code, Contra is harder than Chinese arithmetic – even more so for people (like myself) who have vision problems. Nothing pisses me off more than getting hit by a fucking white bullet that I couldn’t see, because it blended into the background. Oh yeah, and there are limited continues. So the code helped alleviate the stress of playing the game in my younger years.
I know that there are some people who would call this cheating, and that they would never lower themselves to using a code that was already programmed into the game to give extra lives, but what the fuck is wrong with a little help? I certainly benefitted from the extra lives, and I know there are many more people who have done the same, because it made the game that much more enjoyable, and that is the main purpose of playing any game: TO HAVE FUN!
Having said all that, I did manage to beat it without the code. It happened earlier this year, during the best fucking weekend I’ve ever had, when I was inspired by my Gaming Rebellion brothers to do a playthrough of Contra, without the code. I was not asked to do so, but I wanted to do it. After three failed attempts, I did it on my fourth, using only one of my limited continues. And it was fucking glorious, because I also had Brasel the Gamer as a living witness to my victory!
So yes, I am definitely saying that you should play this amazing classic. Play it with the code, or play it without the code. Hell, play it without wearing pants – it’s very liberating.