Retro gaming explosions.
Enemies all over the place.
You, a soldier-hero wearing nothing but blue-colored military fatigues running and shooting the baddies in order to secure a better future for humanity. These are all the necessary ingredients needed for creating one of the best video game of all time.
Contra – The retro game that started the action platform genre
I’m talking about Konami’s legendary game for NES, Contra. Developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988, it became the standard bearer for all side-scrolling games.
Fluid controls, advanced graphics, and a rocking Contra music background invaded the house of every 80’s kid. To everyone’s surprise, Contra was a hit.
Contra is Influenced with 80’s Action Movies
In Contra, you play as two heroes or soldiers trying to protect the Earth from an alien invasion. The two pixelated heroes kind of resemble the action heroes of the 80s era.
The heroes resemble both Arnold Schwarzenneger’s Commando and Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo. Konami finally cleared up who those two characters were, thanks to the Internet.
The Heroes Identities Revealed
The hero wearing the blue pants is Bill Rizer while the second player character wearing the red pants is Lance Bean. Both are members of a special unit called the Contra Unit. They were under orders to destroy the Red Falcon Organization, which was hell-bent on conquering the Earth thru their secret base in the Galuga Islands near New Zealand.
Contra stages were based in New Zealand?
Is that the reason why the stages would go from a jungle scene to a snowfield scene? Of that, I am not sure. I don’t think New Zealand has an area that snows. Kids of the 80s era don’t care about that though. The only thing they care about is that this game is awesome. Imagining yourself as a muscle-bound hero armed with a machine gun makes the game even better.
The game did not only gain popularity in the United States but in the rest of the world as well. In Japan and in areas where the format of the game was in the PAL version, the game was titled “Probotector”. But in most regions in Asia, it was still called Contra. I should know because I actually played the game along with my little brother. By the time my Dad placed the cartridge on our game console and we started playing, we instantly became zombies. We would play for hours until my Dad angrily told us to stop. It was just that good.
While the gameplay is indeed addicting and the graphics were very good for its time, there was only one small flaw with the game. The later stages became to difficult to pass. However, we didn’t mind this one small detail. It’s because this one flaw was overshadowed with all the other positive qualities of the game. The game was so good that by the time we started playing the game, we became experts on how to dodge bullets and how to jump properly at the same time. It wasn’t too long until we finally beat the game after around two months of playing Contra.
The Legacy of Contra Continues
Even until now that we’re already both in our thirties and have our own kids, my brother and I still reminisce those great times when all we ever did was play Contra in the living room of our house. Those were the good old days indeed.
While the Contra title has long gone dormant, its legacy will remain as one of the great, great, great grandfathers of all action games developed and produced in the market today.