Super C (NES) review
"If 30-foot-tall extraterrestrials with poorly concealed intestinal tracts and fangs as sharp as Lee press-on nails ever decide to take over the Earth, I pray to God we have two souls as brave as Mad Dog and Scorpion (Blue Pants and Red Pants to the layperson) to take them on. Landing by helicopter in the middle of a smoldering city that's been destroyed by either aliens or a day of baking cookies gone horribly awry, Mad Dog and Scorpion require no briefing from the president, who may very well h..."
If 30-foot-tall extraterrestrials with poorly concealed intestinal tracts and fangs as sharp as Lee press-on nails ever decide to take over the Earth, I pray to God we have two souls as brave as Mad Dog and Scorpion (Blue Pants and Red Pants to the layperson) to take them on. Landing by helicopter in the middle of a smoldering city that's been destroyed by either aliens or a day of baking cookies gone horribly awry, Mad Dog and Scorpion require no briefing from the president, who may very well have an alien spider's eggs hatching in his chest as they slide down a rope into the heat of battle. It doesn't take a personal tragedy visited upon them by the alien ringleader himself to encourage them to take up arms and barrel through their intergalactic defenses. They're not obligated to anyone to complete or even begin their mission.
No sir, they do it because happiness is a warm spread gun, and because there's no greater thrill in the universe than spitting in the face of the odds and going down in either the history books or a blaze of glorious, selfless death.
Judging by the fact that they choose to remain shirtless throughout the game, one might mistake their courage for cockiness. This is far from the case. It is an open invitation to all enemy ammunition, saying ''come and get me, I can take it like a man.'' Of course, Mad Dog and Scorpion have bodies that are somehow made entirely of Achilles' heels, and so even a grain of sand fired at the proper rate of acceleration and velocity will cause them to somersault melodramatically backward and onto their backs in a lifeless heap. However, this doesn't change the fact that they possess the best one-man artillery that quick hands can steal and that when properly equipped, the two of them are practically unstoppable anyhow. Few games have a flurry of action quite like Super C does, even with the Contra pantheon. It's exhilarating, nerve-wracking, terrifying, and frustrating all at once - a four-ingredient recipe that many games overdo in one area or another but Super C manages to get just right.
Super C follows the same basic linear progression as the original Contra, even going so far as to including many of the same areas. Make a checklist that includes the city that is an unfortunate victim of the apocalypse, a jungle, an enemy fortress, mountains, and the final alien base decorated with maggots, brains, and various other innards, and as you proceed through the game, you'll be able to check them all off. Each area is infested with enough enemies to pop a good amount of even the most hardcore gamer's capillaries. Faceless soldiers relentlessly swarm you with their bullets and their bodies. Even the smallest enemy must be taken into consideration, for contact with it results in the loss of one of your precious lives. The low supply of lives given to you makes the game all the more challenging, turning it into a ''dodge five bullets and a laser at once'' affair as well as one of ''save everything from senseless annihilation.''
Although Super C is substantially easier than its predecessor, that sense of being surrounded and having to turn and fire at an enemy faster than you can bat an eyelash is what makes it. Though many of the areas seem wide open and there is always plenty of space to the left and right (particularly in the two overhead stages), claustrophobia still has this way of closing in, hugging you tightly, and slowly putting its big hands over your eyes. Vertigo and acrophobia play a large part in levels that force you upward; if this game were made into 3D and afforded you the ability to look down from the slopes of the mountains or from one of the small floors of the predominantly green fourth-level warehouse, it would be one of the scariest sights a video game would have to offer. Equally unforgettable is a great earthquake toward the end of the jungle stage where even the forces of nature turn their back on you as mighty plateaus drop out beneath your boots - some beneath the lower abyss of the television screen.
While those with weak compositions stay behind and dwell on these psychological terrors, the rest of us will see if we have what it takes to do battle with giant turret-filled walls, fanged mouths that grow out of a floor made of stale gray muscle tissue, and giant crawling creatures that look like arachnids with a woman's face that have the biggest pig rectum you've ever seen wrapped around their backs. If you can hack it without retching, you'll be rewarded with one of the sweetest action experiences the NES has to offer.
Everything that makes the Contra series great is embodied by this game. There's the unchanging gun hierarchy which dictates that the spread gun is the most desirable weapon and the laser is about as fun to hold as a very recently used wad of toilet paper. If you ever sensed that someone was behind you and you looked to find some jerk riding your tail by no more than three pixels, it was probably in a Contra game. Being swarmed by enemy squadrons and decimating them all only to be felled by a stray bullet at the very last moment is a feeling that is uniquely Contra. In order for a Contra game to be true to its roots, it has to possess all these qualities, and Super C gives healthy doses of all while not feeling cheap or impossible. If you're overwhelmed by any installment of the series, this is the one you should give a shot (unless of course it's the one you're being overwhelmed by).
So sit back and bask in the brainless anthem of alien destruction that is Super C. Unless you count the pesky task of enemy memorization, there's precious little thinking to be done, making it the perfect prescription for the hour-to-kill blues. Just take up arms and pound away at the B button until you're lost in a sea of crossfire and humongous boss monsters. No amount of difficulty should convince you otherwise; if you're a fan of shooting things and being shot, then you should grunt loudly from your diaphragm, rip your shirt off, and stretch your neck muscles in utter concentration until you reach that deep trance state that only video games can induce, and let the seamless segues from level to level carry you away. I'll spare your eyesight by keeping my shirt on, though.
Featured community review by snowdragon (May 11, 2004)
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