On September 26, 2011,Â KonamiÂ ‘s adventureÂ gameÂ CastlevaniaÂ celebrated its 25th anniversary. The stories involving Simon Belmont taking down the vampire Dracula has captivated many hours of dedication of my childhood and teen hood going through many hours trying to go through the frustrating levels and bosses. However,Â everytime I passedÂ a stage, IÂ had a moment of satisfaction andÂ kept playing. On that day, I played a couple of levels of theÂ Castlevania, as well asÂ Super Castlevania IVÂ on the SNES,Â Castlevania: Symphony of the NightÂ on the PS1, and the recentÂ Castlevania: Lords of ShadowÂ on the PS3. I’m sure that everyone did the same thing when they celebrated its anniversary. Oh wait, another important video game was celebrating its 25th anniversary last year that everyone paid attention more thanÂ Castlevania, didn’t they? What game was it again? Oh yeah,Â Zelda.Â Don’t get me wrong, I loveÂ Zelda,Â but it overshadowed a bunch of other games that were celebrating their anniversary that deserved as much attention. But not today, Old School Lane is going to celebrate aÂ game that is still loved by retro gamers, massicists, and shoot-em-up fans.
On February 20, 1987,Â KonamiÂ releasedÂ ContraÂ on the arcades in Japan. The basic story of the futuristic year of 2633 in which two commandos named Bill “Mad Dog” Rizer and Lance “Scorpion” BeanÂ are sent on a mission to neutralize a terrorist group called the Red Falcon Organization that is planning to take over the Earth. With overÂ 4 different gun power-upsÂ to pick up along the way,Â over 10Â levels of run and gun shooting action, and co-op play, this arcade game was very popular. SoÂ KonamiÂ decided to release the game in other video game consoles and home PC computers, but the one that people know about the most is the NES port ofÂ ContraÂ that was released on February 2, 1988 in America. Japan would receive it a week later and Europe wouldn’t get it until almost 2 years later. The story is pretty much the same as compared to the arcade, with only a few slight differences. Instead of the game taking place near an archipelago in New Zealand, it takes place in an unknown island near South America. Also, instead of the Red Falcon being a terrorist group, they were the name of an alien entity. The aliens were reminisingÂ of the onesÂ designed by H.R. Giger for theÂ AlienÂ movies. In this picture, you can see that they kind of look like the Facehuggers fromÂ Alien.
But what everyone remembers aboutÂ ContraÂ the mostÂ is theÂ KonamiÂ code. For those who don’t know it, you’re either not a retro gamer, aÂ KonamiÂ fan, or a hardcore gamer. Here’s the code right here:
Most people think that the code originated inÂ Contra,Â but it actually came fromÂ Gradius,Â a scrolling shooter game that was also made byÂ Konami.Â The code gives you 30 lives instead of 3 lives and trust me, you’re going to need it when playing this game. It’s one of the most difficult games that ever came out on the NES, but not as hard asÂ Ninja GaidenÂ orÂ Battletoads.Â At least I beatÂ Contra,Â which was not easy, even with the code. Remember this boss? Yeah, frustrating as hell, wasn’t it?
Another thing that makes this game memorable are the weapons. All 4 gun power-ups from the arcade were brought to the home ports. You have the machine gun, the laser gun, the fire gun, and of course, the spread gun.
The spread gun is the stuff of legends. It’s the most powerful gun in the game as it spreads the bullets everywhere and makes killing enemies easier and faster. It has been called one of the best power-ups in video game history and has been in everyÂ ContraÂ game ever since. The spread gun is so popular to gamers that the logo has been put on t-shirts, tattoos, and other merchandise.
But what has made this game so great is its co-op play. During the time when NES games were limited to one player or the second player had to play after the first player dies. Playing this game makes it more easier and fun with a friend, unless that person sucks.
Critics and gamers loved Contra, calling it one of the best multiplayer games on the NES and the #7 greatest game on the NES byÂ Nintendo Power.Â Still to this day,Â ContraÂ has been loved and remembered as one of the greatest games to ever came out on the NES. TheÂ ContraÂ series has had many sequels and spinoffs over the years, some better than others. My favorites in the series areÂ Contra, Super C, Contra III, Contra: Shattered Soldier,Â andÂ Contra 4.Â What are your favorite games in the series? Post it in the comments below and talk about your favorite memories of playingÂ Contra.
Until then, celebrate Presidents Day with two shirtless commandoes taking down terrorists or aliens with awesome, overpowered guns. Happy 25th anniversary,Â Contra.Â May you have many more difficult, yet fun games in the future
Thanks for hanging out with us at Old School Lane. Catch you guys later.