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Title: The Contras

Media/Formats: Disk

Developer: Doug O. Masten, Jeff Steidl

Publisher: NTSC-J: Unreleased

NTSC-U: Sundog Systems

PAL: Unreleased

Release: NTSC-J: Unreleased

NTSC-U: January, 1993*

PAL: Unreleased

*see below
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The Contras is a very interesting conversion of Contra. Rather than being based on the arcade original, it is a translation of the NES version. The game uses a large portion of NES Contra’s audio and visuals, but runs on a different engine. This is evident by the different behavior of enemies and enemy attack patterns, controls, as well as how extra lives are not gained the same way, among other aspects.

Although it is based on the NES version, it features a different level set. Only the first 3 levels are from the NES game (Jungle, Energy Zone and Hangar); the other 3 levels (High Lands, Synergy Zone and Enemy Lair) are considerably modified versions of the first 3. High Lands, for example, is a variant of the Jungle stage with a much greater emphasis on platforming.


The boss battle of Energy Zone is replaced simply by 2 manned turrets and a barrage of foot soldiers. The Energy Zone boss actually appears on the final level, in a modified form. The base stages, waterfall, snowfield and alien lair stages are absent. There are only 2 music tracks, one plays during gameplay (jungle theme) and the other plays during the end credits (an exclusive theme).


The player starts with 3 lives; how extra lives are gained is not clear. Although all the powerup icons are retained in this conversion, only two are functional, the machine gun (M) and barrier (B). The player can either use the Normal Gun or the slightly faster Machine Gun; neither are automatic.

Despite these kinds of shortcomings, The Contras offers solid gameplay. The controls are as smooth as NES Contra and the gameplay is well programmed to mimic it, as well. It even features simultaneous 2-player mode. The jumping mechanics are slightly different as the jump’s height can be controlled and the horizontal movement during a jump is entirely dependent on player control.

The visuals are essentially identical to the NES version, although the display will vary between RGB and composite monitors (The following screenshot was captured with composite monitor display; notice the less vibrant color palette in comparison to the RGB monitor display depicted above).

The Contras has a messy development history. Originally developed by Doug O. Masten, for one reason or another, he quit its development and transferred the project to Jeff Steidl. Jeff Steidl was completely unfamiliar with the game’s code; he needed to familiarize himself with the game and finish it within a small time frame.

As a result, The Contras ended up being short and somewhat buggy; this was indeed a consequence of rushing development to minimize tardiness. This game was distributed only through mail order. It is practically impossible to find a physical copy of The Contras today; until 2017, the most recent mention was in a Google Groups sale thread that dates back to 2002. On July 29, 2017, a brand new copy of The Contras was listed for sale on eBay.


The Contras had been a mail-order game with a very limited stock. It did not ship with its own box or any packaging beyond the manual/fold-out and disks.

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Stage 1: Jungle
Stage 2: Energy Zone
Stage 3: Hangar Zone
Stage 4: High Lands
Stage 5: Synergy Zone
Stage 6: Enemy Lair

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Recall that the game was rushed, thus the powerup system is incomplete. Although most powerup icons from the NES version are present (except for the special), only the Machine Gun and barrier are functional. Thus, the game only has 2 guns. The rate of fire for both is extremely high; it is also spastic such that single presses of the fire button can result in several bullets being fired.

Powerups are acquired through various objects scattered throughout the game.

-Ground canisters:




Normal Gun:

The player starts with this gun and, assuming they have a gun powerup, will revert to it when respawning after death. Fires at very high rate.

Machine Gun (M):


Fires regular bullets at a ludicrously high rate and in large clusters.

Barrier (B):


Protects the player from enemies and attacks for approximately 30 seconds, during which the player rapidly blinks (the same effect as the temporary state of invincibility after respawning).

The following powerups are functionless:

coco3item4 coco3item5

coco3item6 coco3item7

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Most, if not all of the names provided here are unofficial. Due to the ambiguity of enemy names between regions, the lack of names for several of them and the absence of various documents, it is impractical to list the correct designations. Help is strongly encouraged and always appreciated to fill in these blanks. The Opposition section serves primarily to describe and depict the enemies for bookkeeping; thus, the content presented below hopefully satisfies this criterion.

Fodder Enemies, Objects

Standing Sniper:


This soldier stands in place, actively aiming and firing at the player. Due to faulty coding, this enemy frequently fails to register the player’s vertical position, causing it to aim diagonally when the player is directly in front of it.
Found in stages: 1-6

Guerrilla Sniper:


Hidden in the background bushes, these enemies spring out when approached and shoot horizontally towards the left.
Found in stages: 1,4

360 Turret:


Embedded in the ground, these turrets constantly rotate a full circle, firing randomly in 8 directions.
Found in stages: 1,4

Ground Arc Turret:


Hidden in the ground, they rise up and out when the player reaches close proximity. Always facing to the left, they fire in 3 directions, including horizontally, that form a partial arc range.
Found in stages: 1,4

Foot Soldier:


The weakest and most basic enemy of Contra. They predominantly run along sections of numerous stages. Occasionally, they jump off the edge of grounds in an attempt to chase the player, though this sometimes results in them falling to their death.
Found in stages: 2-6

Manned Turret:


Consists of a soldier who is protected by, and shoots through, a gun turret. He fires bullets in a distinct pattern.
Found in stages: 2,3,5,6

Impale Board:


Spring up out of the ground when the player approaches them (although rarely already sprung up), serving as a speed trap. They are found in a variety of heights, with the higher ones taking more damage.
Found in stages: 3,6




Building entrance to the Energy Zone and Synergy Zone. This defense bunker consists of dual Arc Turrets at mid-level and the Wall Core at ground level. The Arc Turrets frequently fire arcing bullets, at various distances (randomly). The Wall Core is the essential component, but will only actually receive damage after the Arc Turrets are destroyed.
Found in stages: 1,4

Soldier Barrage 1:


Guarding the doors to the Hangar Zone is a gauntlet of enemy troops. 2 Manned Turrets are placed directly in front of the door, while a large group of Foot Soldiers spawn from the door. Defeating these enemies completes the stages.
Found in stages: 2

Entrance Security System:


This security system consists of a Security Lock above the entrance (the main goal of this battle) and a pair of Triple Bullet Turrets.
Found in stages: 3

Soldier Barrage 2:


Guarding the doors to the Enemy Lair is a gauntlet of enemy troops. A Manned Turret is placed directly in front of the door, while a large group of Foot Soldiers spawn from the door. Defeating these enemies completes the stages. Additionally, a Flame Pipe is located at the left side of the battle area.
Found in stages: 5

Helmet Demonic Titan Soldier Gorudea:


A large, armored super-soldier. This boss tosses disc mines that slide along the ground towards the player. He throws either 1, 2 or 3 mines at a time, with varying time intervals between each (randomly). Occasionally, he jumps in place in an attempt to dodge the player’s bullets. He also walks across the battle area to the other side of the screen before walking backwards to the right. Furthermore, this boss occasionally lunges a short distance forward before retreating.
Found in stages: 6

Other Dangers

Death Pit:


As the name implies, falling into these kills the player. Some are deep pits that make for a very high fall and a usually unknown or inescapable landing area. Others contain a deadly surface or a pool of dangerous substances.
Found in stages: 1-6

Exposed Flame Pipe:


These pipes periodically burst out a large beam of flames. They’re the prominence of the Energy Zone.
Found in stages: 2,5

Claw Compactor:


Compactors with claws at their base instead of the usual smasher set-up. They employ various impaling patterns with different triggers, requiring different evasive strategies.
Found in stages: 3,6

Triple Bullet Turret:


Each Triple Bullet Turret is built into the ground, a few feet in front of the entrance. It launches a bullet very high into the air; the bullet, like the shell of a Scuba Soldier (NES Contra), then splits into 3 identical ones that drop back down. The turret periodically alternates between an open state, to attack, and a closed state. It cannot be destroyed.
Found in stages: 3

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There are currently no known cheats, helpful glitches, etc.

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Circa 2100, the army of a mysterious enemy organization, known as Red Falcon, has quickly compromised all major military forces of the world. 2 of the world’s remaining rebel fighters learn about the strategic forces of Red Falcon, as well as their whereabouts. As a team, they set out to conquer these keys locations in hopes of gaining access to the enemy’s headquarters. With the prevalence of these 2 heroes, Red Falcon is defeated and the world is at ease.


Bill Rizer – protagonist; playable (unofficial name)

Lance Bean – protagonist; playable (unofficial name)

Red Falcon – antagonist organization

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•Battle In The Dense Jungle

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There are currently no known variants of this conversion of Contra.

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The Contras was released only in North America.

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There is currently no known developmental material to present.

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None yet.

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None yet.

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Rainbow Magazine covered The Contras repeatedly in nearly every issue, from 1992 to 1993. The 3 main advertisements are shown below.

May 1992 issue:


February 1993 issue:


May 1993 issue:


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