my SO and i play games together occasionally, and a while back we tried out contra 3. that game turned out to be too difficult, though, even with the 10-man code, so recently we sat down to play the original contra for NES. the infamous konami code provides 30 lives, and since i have the game practically memorized we were able to make it through to the end even though his skills are, shall we say, somewhat lacking. 😉 the ability to steal lives from the other player when yours run out definitely came in handy.
although i lost more than a few lives this time around when i went back and played it solo, it really wouldn’t be too hard for me to manage a perfect or near-perfect run. so it seems a bit surprising to me that people still consider this to be one of the hardest games of all time (that is, without using the cheat code), but i suppose i’ve just forgotten how many times i had to play through the game as a kid to memorize it. super C and operation C weren’t too challenging either, but already i can tell contra 3 and contra 4 are going to be more difficult, just from the small tasters i’ve had of them.
in evaluating the game, i’m faced with the ol’ nostalgia vs objectivity issues. but even objectively speaking the game stands up extremely well, and the graphics, music, weapons, explosions, and level and boss variety make this one for the ages. it feels a bit short nowadays, but the game really makes the most of its limited gameplay with its eye-catching locales and a ton of enemy and environment variety. i think the waterfall level ranks among my top favorite levels ever, and the games features some of the best co-op play ever as well. an enduring classic, and one that still deserves a top spot on any “best games of all time” list.
not so contrary contra links:
– this was a “together retro” pick at racketboy.com early last year, so there’s a lot of good info and discussion there
– fully annotated maps at vgmaps.com
– some screenshots at gamespot.com
– PDF of the manual at replacementdocs.com. has some great lines like “if you succeed, well … it doesn’t matter, because i doubt you will”, and “believe in miracles maybe you’ll make it”. haha.
– entry at wikipedia
– speaking of lists of top games, contra is currently an entry in the ongoing series of polls i’m running to highlight some of the greatest games of all time. check it out here.