Retro Game of the Day! Contra
Contra. Contra, Contra, Contra. Yup, there is your review, I needn't say any more really..
Originally a 1987 arcade release, this Konami-developed game saw fame with its 1988 port on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Contra was one of those games "you just knew about, somehow" - the magazine ad looked interesting, and it was more than a little remniscient of that great title of theirs, Rush 'n Attack - there had to be something to it, right?
A strange story, a little.. I had planned to buy this game, but for some reason I rented it first (I never rented a game I knew I was going to buy anyway!) Still, it was a bright and sunny Saturday in Framingham, Massachusetts, and my friends and I decided that it was what we would do. We rented it, I guess we must have entered "the code" (you know the one) - and we beat the game! And even after this, I still had to buy the game. I mean - I had to. I loved Contra. Mario was fun. Zelda was amazing. Castlevania was something else. But this, this... valhalla! Sublime!
I daresay, the penultimate 2-Player simultaneous cooperative experience on the Nintendo, during its entire run. The game was just super-smooth goodness. Whoever you played Contra with, that kid became your best friend. It was like a Rite of Passage. The tight control - the gorgeous graphics - the incredible soundtrack - the ridiculously powerful weapons - the endless armies of alien soldiers to mow down. What more could a 13-yr-old ask for?
It's quite possible that I played through the game more than any other I've owned. Sometimes you'd just.. get bored, so hey! Might as well play Contra. Let's see that helicopter fly off of the exploding island again, y'know? Hey, I already beat Contra today. Well Hell!! Let's do that all over again! I could play it right now. If it only was not 2 in the morning...
And for all of my praise of Contra - man, it was a difficult game. Not quite the hardest ever, not by a country mile - but the game was not an easy play through. You needed that 30-man code, my brother. In fact, I am stumped to remember how far I managed to play through, in my prime, under my own steam. I wanna say the snow field (weak!) but who knows. I think I could have made it pretty far if not for the code. But you know what? Screw it! The code made this game. It was one of the rare instances in my gaming history where it was part of the game's proper experience to cheat through it. That was what Contra was about - the damned game was so hard, you needed to unfairly mess with the odds in order to still scrape by with just a few scratches. I bet some people never even managed that much..
Anyway, the true Golden Age of Nintendo Classics. Again I must say "and now we know why Sega Master System could not cut it," they never had a game even half as good as Contra (I'm no SMS hater, I love the system - but they got the short end of the stick when it came to quality titles like this. I mean, who's gonna play Quartet over Contra?)
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