Fire! Fire! Fire! And don't stop firing are the only instructions
you need. Because in this Doomsday extravaganza, there's little time for
thinking. A killer instinct is all that matters. And if your trigger finger
lacks stamina, Earth will lack a future.
November 14, 2007: Contra 4 is out and is fantastic
Kurt here, giving a quick update on the release of Contra 4 - it's excellent and anyone with the slightest interest in Contra anything should buy it immediately. It's a nice return to its roots and feels a lot like the NES Contra/Super C but given a nice glossy sheen, along with some of the setpieces of Contra 3. Easy mode shouldn't be a problem for Contra vets (plus beating it unlocks the Challenge mode, which further unlocks goodies) but Normal and Hard modes will give you a fierce ass kicking, in that good kind of way. Seriously, more companies need to get American teams together to revive stagnating franchises that the Japanese side has no idea what to do with (Shining Force and Phantasy Star, I'm looking very specifically in your direction). Plus they even included The Contra Headquarters in the Special Thanks section which makes them beyond awesome. The official site launched a few weeks ago - both this and the instruction booklet are amazing homages to the old quasi-maniacal Konami NES manuals. A fuller review should be coming shortly, but in the meantime, here's a few (quite excellent) songs recorded straight from the game:
Ed: Sterling McGarvey (of "crack rocks the size of my fist" fame) commented, along with most everybody else, that the game "feels like an old one" (i.e. Japanese). I really don't agree, and some of the stylistic choices didn't match my notions about the series - but it really doesn't matter, does it? It's the gameplay, stupid! This entry into the series digs with both hands into the history of Contra in North America with both hands and digs up classic gameing style along with some regional oddities that probably won't translate well - but the overall effect is that it rekindles true passion instead of simply resurrecting the dead shell of a series. It is also a game that will make new fans of the series. WayForward and Konami have done us a favor by shaking things up and speaking up for fans overseas (even diehard Probotector fans get something in that regard). I'm biased towards the arcade games (Super Contra specifically), but pining for the good old days of plastic assault rifles with neon stickers and flashing LEDs all over everything won't keep the series fresh.
So far, my only real complaint with the game (aside from the obvious cheating going on in the Super Contra screenshots in the Museum, the use of the word "unintentional" in reference to Iran-Contra, and the focus on admittedly great platforming, which isn't so much a complaint as it is my liking the straightforward run-across-the-screen approach of Super Contra, again) is really one with the hardware it runs on: As with the NES Controllers, I have trouble hitting the diagonals. Too bad they don't make a Advantage for the DS Lite! Other than that, this game is top quality through and through. Oh - there was the matter of the 13th, which proved to be an unlucky day for me: Contra 4 was shipped that day, and didn't arrive at my local store until later, while the mobile phone version of Contra 4 launched later that day (at least to Verizon customers) but proved no substitute for the real thing.
I do recommend the 2006 port of the original Contra arcade game for mobile phones, and I've finally finished my complete walkthrough for the game. Check that out HERE! I've got some photos of the game to process still, and with some luck I'll eventually turn out some for Contra 4 mobile as well, and perhaps some music samples for both as well.
July 19, 2007: "Many asses will be kicked." Plus:
Visit San Diego Comic Con 2007 on July 26th to play Contra 4!
(Alternatively: Contra 4 six-developer mega-interview and the first pixel-perfect Tunnel screenshots!)
Decide what's the biggest news here: The fact that we've got a wonderful interview up with six of the key developers on this project, the fact that Konami's Simon Lai sent us the world's first pixel-perfect Contra 4 images, or that visitors to San Diego Comic Con 2007 will get to be the first people in the general public to play Contra 4.
Why make you choose? We'll make it easy:
San Diego Comic Con 2007 website - hurry to register!
Contra 4 developer interview
Thanks for the exclusives, Simon!
July 13, 2007: Contra 4 3D Stage gameplay demonstration
Yesterday Simon Lai demonstrated Contra 4 and answered questions for GameSpot TV. Go see it for yourself!
Expect to see a mini-page for Contra 4 facts (and hopefully no speculation) soon. In the meantime, you can pore over a very rough TXT form of said page HERE.
Additionally, Chris Kohler of WIRED Blogs had a bit of hands-on experience with Contra 4. Read a summary of his impressions HERE.
July 3, 2007: Contra 4 videos galore!
Pixelation members have been crucial in keeping me up-to-date on Contra 4. The latest updates come courtesy of Lee N, who photographed the awesome (or cheesy depending on your personal affinity for the 80s) poster in Nintendo Power, and ferreted out direct links to Gamevideos.com content.
First, the videos, from and hosted on GameVideos.com (copy and paste into another browser window; don't forget to visit their site, GameVideos.com):
Speadgun/Machinegun (with music)
Jungle (with music)
As promised, the picture of the poster is HERE. I see an MP5-A2 and an Enfield L85 of some kind (without a scope?) in there, and while Bill and Lance got a bit further from their models we can see that the new guys - Mad Dog and Scorpion - have taken the movie star homage trend into the new millennium.
June 23, 2007: The one where Ed forgets to make a snappy title because he's going crazy with excitement
Excuse the adjective abuse, but this is a stunning time to be alive: I'm writing this update after a solid half-hour of reviewing material on the new game that will blow your mind (or turn you into hamburger ala the Contra HC ad - not sure which; ask me in a day and see if I'm still lucid). Last week's announcement sparked off a bout of Contra madness* worldwide and I'm still trying to get a handle on it all, but what's been seen thus far is enough to convince me that this may well be the best old-school style Contra yet.
Everything fits - the graphics style (fans of Contra III will feel right at home), the dual screen/grappling hook gameplay design (a very elegant solution to what could've been a damning flaw in the game), weapon upgrades, and finally the sound provided by respected remixer and longtime WayForward employee Jake "Virt" Kaufman. The icing on the cake - WayForward promises a roiling mixture of classic Contra set pieces and new situations to bring it roaring into the future by taking it back to the beginning.
I suggest everybody read the great preview with insightful commentary (I admit the Pac-Man 2 comment stings a bit) from the incomparable Jeremy Parish on semi...almost-sister site 1up. Check that out HERE. There's also a great VIDEO of Parish, head editor Sam Kennedy, and some other dude (actually Shane Bettenhausen of EGM) chatting and grinning like idiots while trying rather unsuccessfully to contain their bubbling enthusiasm - not that I'd be able to do much better right now!
Run out and get the Nintendo Power article - read it at the store, find a copy that fell off a truck, steal it from a friend - but don't miss it. The centerpiece is in the awesome interviews - if anybody understands the spirit of Contra, this gang does. I don't think anybody has ever elucidated the soul and spirit of the series this clearly (and it's brief). The comments are succinct and brief, as well, qualities which speak well for the vision driving this game.
In unrelated news, I've finally uploaded some interesting takes on classic Contra tunes of the eardrum shattering genre by remixer Wild Thunder that I've been sitting on since early March - my sincere apologies, there. You can find them HERE. I will suggest that you start with the treble high and the volume low, however, since WT plays some wicked tricks on your ears by distorting the frequency spectrum. These tracks should soon appear on the Media page along with a short bit WT wrote explaining the ideas behind the remixes. Keep 'em coming, folks!
Thanks again to the Castlevania Dungeons Forum crew and specifically former WayForward staffer Camus for help getting this all together.
*Not the dancing kind, thankfully, and not Contra Costa County real estate kind either - a man's gotta strike back when the opportunity presents itself!
June 23, 2007: Contra 4 and more!
The Contra news ticker's been busy lately. Word arrived about a week ago (at least in my slower-than-light world) that Konami would be continuing the Contra franchise. While we sat on that one, Konami issued a Press Release on the 20th announcing developer WayForward Technologies (creators of the unheralded minor platforming classic Shantae for the Game Boy Color) signed on for development of Contra 4 for the DS. Here's the essential bits of information gleaned thus far:
*Action on both screens - no need for an always-on map or inventory screen in Contra. Prediction: You'll be able to keep that stylus tucked away too.
*Grappling hook - This is starting to sound a bit like another "fourth" title in a Konami series, isn't it? 2D gaming finally progresses beyond Super Turrican 2 (of course, comparisons to Super Metroid and especially Bionic Commando have begun)!
*Changes to the perceived storyline that'll make your head spin - Mad Dog and Scorpion are now separate characters, and Black Viper appears (returning from Operation C?), and helicopters return!
Leaked thumbnail-sized scans of the latest Nintendo Power magazine seems to show screenshots indicating that development has progressed nicely. It appears that the game features big, detailed characters and environments in a screen setup that gives you a vertically oriented virtual screen (think Super Contra in arcades) - and a likely return to a certain island. We'll know more when we pick up the next Nintendo Power.
From the Konami PR reps noting the twenty year anniversary (which was actually in February) to the return of the delightful-yet-maybe-improbable helicopters, everybody's hitting the right notes on this one - quite a dramatic departure from the sordid previous history of western-developed Contra. Some folks are voicing worries on this one, but simply put Gun Data and random battles aren't a feature of this series, so it's safe to assume that we'll have some great Super CV 4 and Contra hybrid action here. We'll have to see how the two-screen display is actually handled - NP's issue shows a border-free image - but that in of itself is hardly panic-worthy.
Thanks to Alucard'sQuest (?) and various folks at the world-famous, hoax-crushing Castlevania Dungeon Forums for alerting me to this one - and, of course, to Konami and WayForward for teaming up to bring us another great installment in the series.
In other news, we're still hard at work rejuvenating the site content in order to...make it better! There's a lot to be done there.
December 29, 2006: Bye-Bye Ahkboob?
Hey everybody! Just a quick note of holiday wishes. I hope to have a little update coming in the next few days; plus a bigger update sometime in the first week of January (meant for Christmas, oh well). I also have no clue why Classicgaming reverted to old updates, but everything's fine on our end.
It also seems that the Contra Database is down for the moment. It would be a shame if that had disappeared; hopefully it's only gone temporarily.
November 8, 2006: CONTRAS LOSE!
Yesterday saw many of us preoccupied with the prospect of a changing of the guard on Capitol Hill, but there was another election of note in the country of Nicaragua. Today saw the confirmation of former Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega as president of that nation. It is somewhat ironic that this news comes so soon after an announcement of the re-release of the original arcade Contra for a handheld system (the first by Konami); it is further amusing that once again history is once again narrowly upstaged by fantasy (or is it the other way around?).
As some of you are already aware, the struggle in Nicaragua between the revolutionary Sandinistas (once funded by the Soviets) and the Contras (funded by the U.S.) is closely linked to our favorite game series - the name and character of the Contras for obvious reasons; Sandinista being the name of the end credits theme. At the first glance it seems remarkable that aside from these unmistakable references that the Konami of the 80s did not inject the traditional unmistakable conflict between East and West into the game after the simplistic portrayals of Soviets as mainly dirty guys with beards who didn't know how to use guns (Devastators) with a affinity for holding infinite numbers of Americans hostage (Green Beret); simple cannon fodder who couldn't beat a jeep with a tank. The likely truth is that Konami's designers were enthralled with the image of war, not the reality; Stallone and Schwarzenegger as the epitome of simple, uncomplicated American values and strength prevailing in the face of insurmountable difficulty. Furthermore, they had a product to sell and the Dendy market wasn't one of Konami's strongest performers.
A lot has changed since those times. Konami's top-selling military-themed games don't shrink from putting former East Bloc enemies in a positive light and forwarding positive interpretations of their motivations. We have moved from games where everybody fits a simple pattern to where even minor characters can have unique goals and stories.
Then some of us wonder when Konami will once again emphasize what really matters: shooting lots of aliens that keep running into our bullets!
Read more about Daniel Ortega's victory HERE. In other news, I beat the MSX2 Contra for the first time; fourth play on real hardware. 383,100 points.
October 21, 2006
Konami is about to announce a new compilation pack for DS - "Konami Classic Series: Arcade Hits." Check out the story here, on IGN.com. Among the games slated to appear are Gradius, Yie-Ar Kung Fu, Contra precursor Rush 'n Attack - and Contra itself! All are purported to be their arcade originals. No word on how the vertical screen will be translated to the DS - I personally would rather do without the hinge in the middle of the action, and the memory of the screen-scrolling in Scramble on Arcade Advanced rankles somewhat. Here's to hoping the translation will be of exceptional quality!
Thanks to N-Wii of the CV Dungeon Forums for the scoop! Man, I'd better see about getting this info directly from the source...
October 5, 2006
We here at Headquarters don't believe that the word "fanboy" belongs on the front page, and neither should controversy. We will say that although we don't (all) have enough money to buy a Wii we are paying it particular attention because of the possibility that it, like the 360, will be receiving Konami classics. We are astonished by the unbalanced popular reception of a recent Eurogamer.net report that Wii game releases won't be universal. Incredible amounts of vitriol have been poured onto the subject both in their comments and elsewhere across the web - especially from Europeans whom have automatically assumed this will mean that they're doomed to have the same lousy translations, black borders, and too-quick 50 Hz framerates.
How quickly we forget. Last year 1up.com reported that Nintendo was looking into remaking their own games, and it's certainly not off the mark to suggest that fixing clock speeds on the European NES releases will be hard. Anyone familiar with older systems and computers (even via emulation) will know that 50 Hz was often solved for by bodging the clock on the machine itself - giving European gamers that nice leisurely pace 17.5% slower on a game not recoded (games which run too fast in emulators, on the other hand, were fixed. Blue Shadow, aka Kage, or Shadow of the Ninja, comes to mind).
I can't give any guarantees that such and such a game will be fixed for the Wii, but I would say it's safe to assume that such a high-profile part of Nintendo's future plan would be done right. If nothing else, one can point out the ease of fixing the clock speed in emulators or on a real PAL SNES. On the "updating games is hard" front: Heck, the two series the Contra H.Q. and her sister site the CV Dungeon pay homage to - Castlevania and Contra - were successfully revamped a few years back by Konami for the Konami Collector's Series release back in 2002, with silly no-vowel passwords (where's Metal Gear?) and fixed-up translations. Funny how the box didn't look very collectable, like usual. Take a deep breath. This stuff ain't hard. At the end of the day Nintendo has the responsibility of clearing up any rumors surrounding the system, of course; one wonders why these big companies aren't more aggressive in calming the public's fears.
Now, a few site updates. First, yes, we're on track to add more new content (as always). I recently got a cheap video card that'll do 30 FPS - good enough for my immediate purpose, although I certainly wouldn't mind if somebody sent me a better one!
Finally, I'd like to introduce Finisher of the Contra Database to the community. He's one of the people who's been very interested in the progress of the site, and our focus on the unlicensed/pirate scene in particular, and I hate to admit it but he gave me some material on the fascinating Super Contra 7 almost a month ago (9/7) that I've yet to put into the site (I'm also doing a bit of work on my side about it, even compiling a complete map of the first level). Hopefully I'll be able to find more time away from my classes and Truxton (Genesis)! The real reason that there haven't been many concrete updates to the site is that a real update is in the works (oh, and Truxton soaks up a lot of free time - didn't I say that already?). Thanks for your patience, everybody - but I will say the results will make the slow time worth it in the end. As always, if you've got any comments, clarifications, or corrections for this news post/attack piece, please send them in!
August 13, 2006
Ah, the Contra handheld LCD game. It's been mentioned before in various places, but never truly explained - until now! I've spent more time with this game than I should've, really! I still need to HTMLize my text (the separation into sections and addition of pictures will help it become more understandable), but I'm throwing this out there to see if there's anything about it that could be made more clear. I should do more to edit out passive voice, but it'll do for now.
Here's the text! First complete description online of the Contra handheld I'm aware of.
Might seem like too much info, but some of that will be going onto different pages.
Discuss this story at The Castlevania Dungeon Forums or at The Contra Database.
July 17, 2006
Here's an update on a widely reported comment by Microsoft's Peter Moore stating that the Xbox 360 version of Contra will have the Konami code.
Frogger for Xbox Live Arcade uses the Konami Code as a difficulty-increasing cheat (it makes your hopper bigger).
At this point there's no way to rule out whether the Code will do something similar for Contra and Super Contra (possibly akin to typing in IDDQD or IDKFA in Heretic). We certainly hope not!
Just think of the possibilities!
July 13, 2006
If you've been clicking around the site you've probably found a dead link here or there. Not to worry - it's all under control.
But I did add a Mailbag section to tide you over while I work on content for the new site. If you have any questions you'd like answered, email them to me and I'll get many of the best minds in the Contra universe* to work on it!
I've also bought a Japanese Contra LCD game from Spain that should arrive soon. Just like Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles LCD game, the game's shell is green and looks a bit like a surfboard.
The last thing - if anybody's looking for some good shooter games to play, I wrote up a small (but...long) list at the Contra Database, so check it out. Most of the games listed are arcade games.
Random factoid (courtesy of DreamTR): Did you know that the Power Blade series (on NES, by Taito - plays vaguely like Rygar, but better) is actually a complete overhaul of the Famicom game Power Blazer, which is often disliked due to its difficulty and the unmistakable resemblance of the main character to the title character of Mega Man? Proof positive that Arnold makes everything better - oh, and don't forget the slide move.
*Some restrictions apply. Red Falcon declined an invitation to participate.
Unnecessarily Wordy Update: June 24, 2006
Jhunour Studio's excellent Flash version of Contra, Contra World Challenge, has moved to ClassicGames.cn. Contra fans might also like their Contra Game Workshop and a pretty accurate Flash version of the NES Jackal along with many other classic game remakes.
The Contra Database is not only fully recovered, but picking up on news stories I missed as well - namely, the E3 announcement that Contra and Super Contra are coming to Xbox Live Arcade (who said it was just a gimmick?) later this year. Check out Peter Moore's press conference here.
A few days ago I joined the Forum for Pugsy's MAME Cheats page. The recently updated cheat.dat is amazing, and proved instrumental for ripping music from Xain'd Sleena.
Finally, many of you are wondering what's going on with the site. Good things! It's just taking me a while to plan and get material around (every day I see him, Darkmoon from The Inverted Dungeon asks me when I'm going to get my stuff together so we can finally get up some incarnation of the site). My committment to the site is as strong as ever, make no mistake.
On that note, your help will be appreciated recording game input movies from emulators such as MAME or ZSnes (compressed input files such as MAME's *.inp only - I do not have space to host actual movie files). The Contra series was designed for competition, and the site's planned features reflect that. Feel free to record movies that illustrate unusual gameplay, bugs (oops!), and even for other Contra-like action games.
Special Update: Feb. 1, 2006
Update: April 15, 2006
Sorry for the lack of updates in recent times! I had trouble getting onto the site, but that's all taken care of for now.
Recently the strategy guide for the Famicom Contra was ordered, and I intend to make this the best archive of Contra-related print materials. I uploaded complete scans of a variety of manuals, though more work needs to be done on this front. Take care!
Also, my thoughts go out to the Contra Database crew after recently suffering a minor attack. Hope you can get things back under control soon, guys.
Special Update: Feb. 1, 2006
Howdy folks. I'm Ed Oscuro, new maintainer of the site. I've written a tentative plan for the future of the site - read it here [edit: The Forum I posted this on was recently attacked, so this record is lost]. Note that nothing's happened yet - I'm still in the planning stages, but I'll take (and credit) all the help I can get!
About myself - some of you may know me as a moderator at the Castlevania Dungeon Forums (which will serve as the interim Forum for the site - all I ask is that you limit Contra discussions to Hardcore Gaming), and others will recognize me as a prolific poster at the Retrogaming Roundtable. Contact me if you have any questions, concerns, or - what I like to hear - thoughts on the future plan for the site. A big thanks to Kurt for putting the site together in the first place and for all the behind-the-scenes work he does to keep these sites going - and thank you, dear reader, for keeping the spirit alive. Ach, now I'm getting mushy, so I'd better clam up.
To keep yourself busy until things heat up around here, head over to 3D Realms and get the Bio Menace freeware release - it's a great classic 2D sidescroller that takes somewhat after Turrican. You'll need to read the incantations and perform arcane rites to get it running, though, as it's a DOS program. My mention of the game isn't totally random, by the way - in keeping with that plan to rejuvenate the Contra H.Q., I'd like to try and conduct some interviews, as well.
Just a few quick links - since the site will be down for awhile, check out The Contra Database, an excellent site that definitely picks up the slack where I dropped off. Also check out the Official Site for Contra Flash Versions, which hosts the original game in Flash format.
Well, Classicgaming moved servers and it messed up all of the links, so that's been fixed now. Otherwise, as you can see, this site is pretty much dead. If anyone is interested in picking this site up, please let me know. [Note: I am now the site maintainer; if you have any queries please try contacting me first! -Ed]
At last, a review of Neo Contra, along with several pics from the gallery.
Coming soon are the weapon and level descriptions, although in the meantime, enjoy some music clips. I don't intend on
ripping all of it - most isn't THAT good - but these are probably the best pieces in the game. Also included is a clean
rip of the vocal intro song. Enjoy?
Level 4-2 Super C Level 3 remix
Theme Song - Neo Contra
Check out the Neo Contra section, with a shoddily written preview, but
made up for with some nice scans and a hot chick dressed as...a commando?...grabbed from eToychest awhile back.
The new Official Playstation Magazine has a playable demo of Neo Contra, as well as Metal Gear Solid 3 and Ratchet and Clank: Up Your Arsenal (also both quality.) I'll get to
a preview within a few days, but suffice to say, the demo has pust to rest any fears - Neo Contra is quite good. As weird as the gameplay changes sound, it feels like
regular shmup, except you can shoot in any direction (and dash as well.) The intro video shows levels that make other levels resemble Ikari Warriors - in no way a bad thing.
When I get time, you'll see a constructed page, but being that it's 11 PM on a Sunday night and I need to get up in eight hours for work, it'll be a little while.
In the meantime, enjoy two MP3s - the trailer song, which sounds like it's sung by DDR vocalist Paula Terry, and the title screen theme. It may take several hours for them to mirror properly (just uploaded them seconds ago) so if a download
source doesn't show up, just check back later.
Intro Neo Contraaaaaa~
As you can tell, I haven't been able to update this very much. Part of it is due to the new site
I've been working on for the past several months, Hardcore Gaming 101.
However, when Neo Contra comes out again this October, you can expect
to see quite a bit more done to this site.
As for updates:
the level descriptions for Shattered Soldier are done,
and there are several scans from the Japanese manuals for Contra and Super C.
Otherwise, that's all for now.
Last Update: 1/12/04
More music: I managed to track down the extended tracks from Contra Shattered Soldier. The original soundtrack release
unfortunately cut some of the pieces down to fit them all on the CD, so now you can listen
to these songs in their entirety. Thanks to whomever ripped these, and Slavik CC on the VGM Direct Connect Hub
for hosting these. I also recorded the first level tune from Contra EX: The Alien Wars for the GBA, just in case
your curious as to how much it sucks.
Contra Shattered Soldier Complete:
A True Last Boss (Extended)
Battle Train (Extended)
Destiny Confrontation (Extended)
Slave Beast Taka (Extended)
Submarine Power Plant (Extended)
The Dusk Gathers (Extended)
The Relic of Moirai (Extended)
Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX:
It's Time for Revenge - Level 1
Well, Neo Contra has been announced for the PS2. It's going to be completely 3D, which seems a bit unfortunate, since the screenshots make the game look like Legacy of War. There's not much I can say here that's not regurtitating the 1up.com coverage, so check it out there.
This place is current in the middle of Revision 3, so much of it is broken. Enjoy the massive amounts of multimedia, and a few
games pages, but otherwise, keep checking back! Also, if you can provide any box scans, please let me know, as I'm in desperate need of them. And a final happy birthday out to NeoRasa!