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Contra (NES) artwork

Contra (NES) review

"Ah, to be back in the sweet days of Contra. Back in the 80's, when Run DMC and Aerosmith ruled the charts, when Ronald Reagen was President, when gaming was a much simpler hobby."

Ah, to be back in the sweet days of Contra. Back in the 80's, when Run DMC and Aerosmith ruled the charts, when Ronald Reagen was President, when gaming was a much simpler hobby. Let's cut the nostagolia and start the review, though.

In Contra, you play the role of a soldier that looks suspiciously like Rambo. There's some silly background story about saving the Earth from aliens (why DO they find Earth so interesting?), but the main point of the game is to kill everything in sight. You do this by travelling through stages left to right mostly, shooting enemies with a variety of weaponry.

Occasionally, the perspective will switch from left to right to up and down. This is basically the same thing, except that you just dodge laterally instead of vertically. It adds a layer upon the gameplay not seen in many games coming after Contra.

You'll troop through several different environments on your journey. They range from lush jungle savannah to dark and dreary alien bases, and even inside a giant alien. Each new place adds another new thing to the gameplay, i.e. hiding in the water on the jungle stages.

The enemies you'll face are an ecletic bunch to say the least. Some are incredibly easy, such as the soldiers that will just do a rush towards you, basically ignoring anything you do. That's mainly a system limitation; refined enemy AI can not be totally expected in a NES game.

However, the boss characters at the end of each stage are a different story. They will come right after you and attack in different patterns. This will try your action gaming ability.

To vanquish your foes, you start out with a machine gun which shoots out small white dots, errr, I mean bullets. You can upgrade to a other weapons such as the Spread Gun and the M-Gun. Not all of the weapons are useful though (Flame gun) and there's no way to pick which weapon you want, unless you avoid all other powerups when you have the gun you want.

Excluding the bosses, nothing in Contra is incredibly hard. The last boss is even laughably easy. An average gamer will beat it using all the continues in the game, and a great player can beat Contra without continuing, using only the three lives given to you in the beginning of the game.

One small problem with Contra's gameplay: You do get points for dispatching various enemies, and you do get extra lives for doing this. However, points are not displayed until the end of the level. It can be frustrating to have to wait until the end of a stage to see how much destruction you racked up.

Graphically, there is nothing that will blow your socks off. For the time, Contra was a beautiful game with lush jungle life illustrated colorfully and impressive boss explosions. Of course, presently, the graphics look very dated. The same can be said for the midi-based sounds and small explosion and ammunition based sounds.

If you like side-scrollers, and have a NES, you must buy Contra. It's your civic duty as an American to play at least one Contra game in your lifetime. It's available for around 3 to 10 bucks in most used-game stores.

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Community review by sgreenwell (Date unavailable)

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