The Games of the Contra Collection

The last classic collection I got on sale recently was the Contra Collection.  I’m not a big fan of Contra either, but I do like it a lot better than Castlevania.  I was never very good at Contra, though.  I do remember it being very popular when I was a kid in the 8- and 16-bit days.  Most people I know either had it on the NES, or rented it a lot.  It may not be the first run and gun game, but it is one of the first that perfected and popularized the genre.  I even remember one time reading a newspaper comic strip back then where two kids were running home to play NES games, and one of the kids said “Let’s play Contra!”  So anyway, let’s take a look at the Contra Collection!

Just like the other Konami collections, this one lets you play the Japanese versions of most of the games, as well as view a scanned artbook.  Even though there is a lot of games to choose from here, technically there are only five main games on this collection, just different versions of them.  But we’ll go through them all now.


I’m really glad they put both the arcade and NES versions on this collection, so you can compare them.  Aside from a big graphics cut, the NES version is surprisingly close to the arcade.  I do remember playing the arcade game a lot, but I really started seeing it in arcades even more after the NES version was released, because it was so popular.  Only problem is that in this collection, you can only continue in the arcade game three times, no matter how many credits you put in.  I don’t remember it being like that in the original arcade, but maybe it was.  It was a long time ago!  Only problem is that I’ll never be able to beat it because of that!  The NES version is probably the one that most people remember.  It’s not the first game that used the Konami code, but it is the one that popularized it.  Most of the games on here you can play the Japanese version of as well.  And you’ll definitely want to play the Japanese version of Contra on the Famicom.  Not only did it add cutscenes and a map, but it also starts you out with 30 lives so you don’t have to enter in the Konami code!  I doubt a lot of people could ever beat the game with only 3 lives!

Super Contra

I remember when my friend and I first saw this in an arcade, we were excited because we knew it would eventually make it to the NES.  And it did under the name Super C.  I think they changed the name on the home release because the Iran contra scandal was still fresh on everyone’s minds in the 80’s.  I know my friend and I rented the first Contra a lot, but I know my friend bought Super C when it came out.  You know, playing Super Contra in the arcade again made me realize I don’t remember it as well because it really didn’t improve much from the original game.  And just like arcade Contra on this collection, you can only continue three times.  The first game mixed up sidescrolling with a third person viewpoint on some levels, but this sequel takes those out in favor of Ikari Warriors style top down levels.  The NES version is pretty close to the arcade, but takes more liberties than Contra did.  Both games are even harder, and I didn’t get very far in either.  You can also play the Japanese version, but there aren’t any significant changes like there were in original Contra.

Operation C

This is just a portable Game Boy version of Super C.  It was hard for the Game Boy to win me over because at first, most games were just truncated versions of NES games.  I would always think, “Why would you play this when you can play a better version of it on the NES?”  But that idea all changed when I played Link’s Awakening, my favorite Zelda game.  Anyway, the Japanese version of this lets you pick stages, so that’s nice.  Jumping feels off, though, and I would always miss the next ledge by a hair, so I didn’t get very far.

Contra 3: The Alien Wars

I remember renting this game a few times and playing it with my friend on the SNES.  It was a pretty neat early near-launch title.  I know we beat it, but I’m sure my friend did better than I did.  I even liked the “Mode 7” top down levels.  Pretty awesome giant bosses, too!  You can play both the US and Japan games, which are pretty much the same.  Or you can play the European version.  At the time, Germany had some strict laws about violence in video games, so for Contra, Konami changed the characters to robots.  They still scream like humans when they get hit, though, so it wasn’t much of a change.  They also renamed it Probotector.  I’m sure Bender would’ve objected.

Contra Hard Corps

This was a SEGA Genesis exclusive Contra game!  I bet Genesis fans were glad to have it, although I still like the graphics and gameplay better in the SNES Contra 3.  You can also play this one on the Genesis Mini.  Anyway, even though I think SNES Contra 3 looks better, the Genesis game does pull off some neat tricks here and there.  You can choose from four characters, a guy, a lady, a robot, and a wolfman.  Can you guess who I picked?  I love the homing laser weapon, I wish that was your default one!  You can also play the European “Probotector” version of this game where everything is a robot.  Still human screams, though.  While Contra Hard Corps is great, if you want a truly excellent run and gun game on Genesis, nothing beats Gunstar Heroes!

And those are all the games.  Even though it’s only five games, the Contra Collection is a well rounded selection of the popular 8 and 16 bit titles.  I do wish it had more games.  I know that the NES Contra Force game wasn’t very good, but I’ve never played it so I’d like to have seen it on here.  Some of the Contra dudes were playable on Wai Wai World 2 on the Famicom as well. And I know that Contra 4 was on the DS and it may be hard to play it here since it used two screens, but I still wish it was on here as well.  Contra 4 was made by WayForward and Konami liked it so much that they chose to make it a true sequel to the franchise.  I played a demo of it once and couldn’t get very far, so I never bought it.  But I’d still like to play it.  I haven’t played any of the newer Contra games.  I know a lot of people don’t like them, but I hear one of the newer ones lets you play as a panda, so that sounds awesome.  Anyway, in the comments section, tell me what Contra games you’d like to see on here, and which ones are your favorites!  That’s all for now!  Later!  –Cary

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