Contra, man what a famous game. When you think of the Nintendo Entertainment System, Contra is likely one of the first games you think of. Released in 1987, this run and gun shooter was very popular and challenging, but does it still hold up today?
Contra is very simple. The goal is to get to the end of each stage, shooting as many enemies as you can, while gaining powerups and avoiding enemy fire. Contra is known for its difficulty; if you get hit once, you lose a life. You start with 3 lives, but can easily use the Konami code to start with 30. The levels in Contra vary, with the first level being a horizontal 2D sidescroller, the second level being a 3Dish tunnel, while the third level is a vertical 2D sidescroller. Each level is a variance of these three types. The game may be difficult, but the level variance makes each level interesting, and since the game isn’t long, the challenge is welcome. There are several fun powerups. There’s a flamethrower gun, a laser gun, a machine gun, a spread gun, a screen nuke, and an invincibility powerup. The bosses are fun to fill with bullets, and the challenge feels very natural. The only issue I have with the gameplay is that the hit detection isn’t the best. There are times that I swear I didn’t get hit, but the game thinks I did and I lose a life. This can be frustrating, but it doesn’t happen too often. The gameplay is really fun overall.
The controls in Contra are interesting. I feel like controlling the main character is incredibly easy and and smooth until you jump. The jumping controls are very floaty, and I often overshoot my jump due to this. Besides the jumping controls, I feel the controls are fine.
The graphics for Contra were amazing for the time and are still impressive for an NES game. The 3D sections are really good looking, and the jungle, snowy, and laboratory environments look beautiful for an 8-bit game. While they don’t look special today, I’d say they’ve aged well.
The music isn’t notable besides the first stage. I honestly only remember like 2 songs from Contra. I’m sure the music is good, but I don’t really think it’s held up, since I don’t remember it.
Contra is still a fun game to play in 2018. I still enjoy almost everything about it. While Contra isn’t perfect, it’s still aged very well.