Famicom World

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The jumping, shooting, and saving the planet from aliens really inspires the gamer to play more and more. Konami hit the jackpot when they created this game.


Intro (Storyline) 3.5

Contra, also called Gryzor in some circles, was released in 1988 for the Famicom by Konami. At the time of it's release, Contra was one of the most violent games available. Most games at the time required jumping on little monsters heads, or hitting vampires with whips, but Contra was more realistic. In Contra, you shoot everything in sight, including robots, aliens, and whoa! even humans! Well, there wasn't blood, but in 1988, this was definitely a major change for the video game industry. In Europe, this game was released as Probotector, where the two human warriors were replaced by robots! Crazy Europeans!

In 2631, evil aliens from another planet crash landed on an island in New Zealand and launch an attack to take over the world. Their leader is a hideous monster named Red Falcon. The world government decided to send in two commandos, nicknamed Bill and Lance (Scorpion and Mad Dog in the United States), to infiltrate the island and stop Red Falcon's evil plot.

Graphics 4.0

When you first start out, most of the action is based around side scrolling/platform shooting. Basically, you have your character on screen with his big gun, and the screen scrolls as you advance in a direction; however, as you move further along in the game, levels alternate between a behind-the-back view and a slightly 3D-like appearance. Not only did this take a bite out of the typical side scrolling gameplay, but Contra has a good change of pace among the levels. Quite frankly, the graphics are very good. There are excellent uses of shading, especially with the jungle backgrounds and alien fortresses. Your two main commandos, while limited in appearance to just a basic combat suit and bandana, still look very tough. Muscles popping out, guns blazing, it's all here.

The animations, while somewhat lacking, are decent. The main problem with Contra is that animations aren't really frame by frame, but rather almost instantaneous. Enemies are detailed, whether it be opposing armored soldiers, or mounted turrets in buildings. Levels can get detailed, with control panels to destroy or certain weaknesses to hit on bosses. Konami made a good use of "flashing" weak points on bosses to let the player know what to shoot at. Unlike other games where you just shoot aimlessly until the boss dies. The best feature of the graphics has to be the various projectiles. You can nearly remember each type of weapon based on the unique sprite that is shot out after you pick up a power-up. For example, the laser power-up makes your gun shoot a long electrifying beam. These type of experiences really connect the gamer to the overall experience.

Also, if you've played this version of Contra, you know though the gameplay is identical, there are tons of new graphical effects as well as scenes and modes that were absent on the west side of the world! The graphical effects include: the trees of the jungles blowing in the wind, sporadic snow in the arctic area, and the floor of the final level eerily pulsating like jelly.

Audio 4.0

Konami did such an ear-appealing job when it came to the music. Many to this day still jam to the beat of the Jungle, Waterfall, Snowfield, and base stages, and the boss theme...true classics. Each song has its own variation, giving the user a unique environment to fight in. The first stage for example has this cool kick-ass theme music and it really drives you into character as a commando who is dropped off by helicopter into an unknown and mysterious jungle...nice imagery. Another great theme is the boss theme music. It feels like you're a war hero from a movie challenging some evil villain.

As for sound effects, they're good. Bullets bouncing off metal machinery make a clinking sound, while destroying a boss could cause huge explosions. Power-ups, extra lives, even the shocking sound of an electric wall. Konami put so much effort into the sound, making it one of the most addicting features in the game.

Gameplay 5.0

Very few shooters have come close to what Contra masters: pure action. Contra was the first of its kind, featuring a real-time world of constant shooting, blasting, and limitless killing. The control system is simple: B shoots and A jumps. That's all you need. You can also crouch by pressing Down, but otherwise you're set. This is what makes Contra such an appealing game to all gamers. The learning curve is easy, and you have limitless ammo (you are a commando after all); people hardly have to take time out to learn complex weapons or skills. Contra comes down to how well you can react to incoming bullets, grenades, and enemies while countering attacks with your own firepower.

Each level is similar, but not in design. Basically, you'll encounter tons of enemies, jumping platform to platform. You can shoot in eight primary directions, which is great since you can pull off some angled shots. Power-ups fly along the screen, or are contained inside of enemies after you destroy them. Some power-ups give you things like a shield, increased weaponry (fire thrower, spread shot, laser shot), and an extra life. You start the game off with only three lives, but at least you're given unlimited continues. Bosses are at the end of each level, thus creating that mood that you must survive until the end. Many bosses can be over-challenging, but weak spots are usually distinguished by a flashing body part, or some type of obvious indicator. The controls are very responsive, and are probably the sole reason why you live 99% of the time. With limitless ammo and plenty of enemies to blast away, everyone can have fun with Contra.

Unfortunately, Contra is a difficult game. One shot kills you, meaning you have to be as agile as Spider Man. Mistiming a jump can lead to your death. But regardless, Contra is a true classic in gameplay shooters. While it may have insane difficulty, you will play this day in and day out. Contra doesn't lose any of the action elements, the game stays consistent throughout. You don't have to worry about a bonus stage or some sappy storyline, this is pure action gaming in your own hands.

Back to the bonus stuff in this Japanese version, there's an intro this time, as well as a map screen (like Akumajou Dracula) and short debriefings after each level. The story had been altered a bit too. In America, the Contra games are meant to take place in the present day (the 1980s), but in the Famicom version they take place in the year 2631. There's also an altered ending, a hidden message, and a sound test.

Controls 4.0

The controls are solid. But Contra's controls take a while to master. The multi-directional aiming of your gun takes some getting used to, especially when you're moving in the same direction or when there's hardly any room to move, since you're trapped by pits and enemies left, right and center. A jumps, B shoots, and the D-pad chooses the direction for fire and your movement. Start pauses the game.

Frustrations 5.0

Contra is nuts. One hit killing you with only eight or so continues, and enemies constantly thrown at you. At least you have more weapons than what Snake had in Metal Gear. The hardest levels have to be either the Snowfield or the base levels. The Snowfield has one vehicle, a spiked car which appears twice and is especially hard to get rid of before it bowls over you. Let's not forget about the gunners, grenades thrown at you, and hordes of generic dudes who run into you! The base levels are all placed in a different forward camera angle, and in a matter of no time, the room can be filled up with lasers, bombs, and spiked rollers! You have to blow up the flashing detonator at the back of the room in order to progress further throughout the path until you meet the boss.

Fun Factor 5.0

OK, first off there's the infamous two-player cooperative mode that has influenced so many other games and has made Contra immortal. Every time I meander through memories, I can see my friends, brother, or whoever playing Contra with me, pumped up by the awesome music and all. And even without a partner, you have a gun with all types of bullets and action -- how can it not be fun -- unless you die all the time, but I guess that's a different story.

Overall 4.5

After getting swarmed with detail after detail, you must understand that Contra is one of the greatest shooters to hit Earth. Not many prehistoric video games can really exhibit how fun side-scrolling action can be. Contra is just that; it provides a rush that no other action game depicted at its time. The jumping, shooting, and saving the planet from aliens really inspires the gamer to play more and more. Konami hit the jackpot when they created this game. They knew the Famicom needed a game that was innovative. If you're looking for a must-have game for your collection, this is it. Contra is by far the most inspiring and exasperating gaming experience you'll ever have. Don't avoid it, don't even try to ignore it. Buy it at all costs. This is a true classic for anyone's gaming library.





Platform Famicom
ID RC826 
Developer Konami 
Publisher Konami 
Players 1 or 2 players 
Genre Action 
Release Date 02/09/1988 
Retail Price  
Current Value  
Saving Option none 
NES NTSC Contra 
NES PAL Probotector 

Disk-kun Ratings

Storyline [][][][ 3.5 / 5.0
Graphics [][][][] 4.0 / 5.0
Audio [][][][] 4.0 / 5.0
Gameplay [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Controls [][][][] 4.0 / 5.0
Frustrations [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Fun Factor [][][][][] 5.0 / 5.0
Overall [][][][][ 4.5 / 5.0


Title screen.
Title screen.

A screen not appearing in the NES version.
A screen not appearing in the NES version.

A map, not in the NES version.
A map, not in the NES version.

Avoiding electric shock.
Avoiding electric shock.

Jumping up the waterfall cliffs.
Jumping up the waterfall cliffs.


Box front
Box front

Box back
Box back

Manual front cover
Manual front cover

Cart back
Cart back