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LCD HANDHELD ELECTRONIC



 
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Release Information
Overview
Stages
Arsenal
Opposition
Cheats, Assistance
Full Plot
Soundtrack
Variants
Regional Differences
Developmental Material
Technical Information
Trivia
Promotional Media

RELEASE INFORMATION

Title: Contra

Media/Formats: LCD Electronic Handheld

Developer: Konami

Publisher: NTSC-J: Konami

NTSC-U: Konami

PAL: Konami

Release: NTSC-J: 1989

NTSC-U: 1989

PAL: 1989

 
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OVERVIEW

Konami’s LCD remake of Contra serves as a neat collector’s item at best. Gameplay handles similar to the base stages. The player progresses forward in a pseudo-3D environment as foot soldiers and xenomorph aliens approach and attack. There are a total of 3 levels. Each level is completed by destroying central targets on a wall that are guarded by enemies and missiles; the targets are collectively termed Falcon Phaso-Sensors. The player automatically runs through each corridor, which progressively increases in distance, during which soldiers and aliens are confronted; at the end of each are the boss battles, the sensors.

A standard rifle is all that is provided; the game offers 3 lives and no continues; no extra lives can be gained. The player can be killed by missiles, as well as getting in contact with the aliens and soldiers. The play field is divided into 4 sections of the screen that the player must navigate to attack and avoid the enemies. As such, controls simply consist of moving left or right and shooting. As is expected, this is a single player handheld electronic game.

Sound effects consist of a small variety of beeps. The music to this game is a set of short samples from the arcade version of Contra. The unit uses 2 AA batteries and has the following system buttons: On/Start, Off, Sound, a non-functional button (intended for 2 player mode, see here) and All Clear (pinhole button to reset the records).

Considering the complexity of the gameplay and display, one might wonder why Konami didn’t opt for an actual side scrolling LCD game, with perhaps no color. Not only is it simpler, but such a construct would allow for gameplay that is closer to that of Contra.

end

Covers:

NTSC-J

NTSC-U

conlcdna

PAL

Spain:

England:

1511-Contra-KONAMI-LCD-Game_000

 
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STAGES

The LCD version of Contra doesn’t feature stage variety. All of them are isometric, behind-the-back perspective base stages.

Note: These stage names are unofficial.

Stage 1: Area 1 (A-1)
Stage 2: Area 2 (A-2)
Stage 3: Area 3 (A-3)

Every few steps, the player passes a screen mounted on the left wall. Every other screen displays a number. These collectively form a countdown from the start of the level; the boss battle begins when the screen reading 0 is reached. They are thus distance markers. Each subsequent level is longer than the previous one, and the dangers increase in speed.

Area 1: 17 markers, so 34 digital screens
Area 2: 18 markers, so 36 digital screens
Area 3: 19 markers, so 38 digital screens

 
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ARSENAL

The only weapon in this game is the Rapid Blasting Machine Gun (according to the North American release’s instructions). Non-automatic, its firing rate depends on how fast the fire button is pressed.

 
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OPPOSITION

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

Foot Soldier:

footsoldierlcd

They simply run into the player to cost a life. For the most part, they remain in the same quadrant. When the player aligns into this soldier’s quadrant (to defeat the enemy), he may evade into another one. These enemies spawn in sections 2 and 4, but can shift to the other ones; they do so one at a time.
Found in stages: 1-3

Alien Creature:

alienlcd

Faster than the Foot Soldier and actively change quadrants in a random manner. They attack by running into the player’s position. These ones spawn in sections 1 and 3 and while they are limited to these, they can jump back and forth between them (thus skipping the second section).
Found in stages: 1-3

Small Base Core:

smbscrlcd

Completely harmless, these must be destroyed to defeat the Falcon Phaso Sensors. Found in quadrants 1 and 4, they’re initially sealed behind and obscured by shutters; shooting their associated wall segment gradually exposes them.
Found in stages: 1-3

Large Base Core:

bgbscrlcd

Essentially the same as the small ones, except that they do not appear in level 1. These ones are found in quadrants 2 and 3.
Found in stages: 2,3

Bosses

lcdbosstrt

Bosses consist of pairs of missiles being fired alternatively at quadrants 2 and 3, then 3 and 4, as well as soldiers and aliens spawning. The player must shoot at the wall from each quadrant to determine in which part of the wall the Base Core is sealed. The Base Cores are completely harmless, so the challenge is due to the enemies and missiles.

Falcon Phaso Sensor 1:

boss1lcd

This boss is homologous to the final corridor in the base stages before the boss battle (NES Contra). This battle consists of only 1 Small Base Core; it will be in either the first quadrant (far left wall section) or fourth (far right). As the wall is shot, the core is progressively exposed. It only takes a few shots to destroy.
Found in stages: 1

Falcon Phaso Sensor 2:

0005

The enemies and missiles are faster, and there is an additional core to destroy. After destroying a Small Base Core (again, either in quadrant 1 or 4), the player must then destroy a Large Base Core. These are found in quadrants 2 and 3. As with the small ones, the player must shoot the wall in these 2 sections to determine and progressively expose this second target to destroy it. The cores take more damage and the dangers move faster in this battle.
Found in stages: 2

Falcon Phaso Sensor 3:

boss31

boss32

boss33

In the final iteration, all 4 Base Cores must be destroyed, in a random order. They take even more damage and the dangers move even faster than in the second battle.
Found in stages: 3

Other Dangers

Alien Cannon Shell Port:

missileportlcd

missilelcd

These fixtures line the entire left wall of the straight corridor throughout all 3 levels. A single missile is occasionally fired from one of these ports at the player’s immediate position during the level, while approaching the boss. During the boss battle, 2 are fired in an alternating pattern at quadrants 2 and 3, then 3 and 4.
Found in stages:1-3

 
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CHEATS, ASSISTANCE

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

 
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FULL PLOT

NTSC-J:
No information yet.

NTSC-U/PAL:
Red Falcon’s path of destruction pits the universe near annihilation. A member of the Special Forces Elite Commando Squad, codenamed Mad Dog, battles the forces of this alien organization in their arenas. Having succeeded in defeating Red Falcon, he puts a stop to their plans.

Characters

Mad Dog – protagonist; playable

Red Falcon – antagonist organization

 
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SOUNDTRACK

•Contra
•Battle In The Dense Jungle
•Triumphal Return 1
•Triumphal Return 2
•Game Over
•Unknown (sample from Battle In The Dense Jungle)

 
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VARIANTS

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

 
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REGIONAL DIFFERENCES

NTSC-J: 魂斗羅 (Contra)

NTSC-U: C

PAL: 魂斗羅 (Contra)/C

1511-Contra-KONAMI-LCD-Game_000

Besides the artwork and packaging, all 3 versions are completely identical.

 
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DEVELOPMENTAL MATERIAL

Click here to view the patent for the North American release of this LCD Contra game.

The following is an advert for several of Konami’s LCD handheld electronic games, including Contra (C):

s82cbn

Strangely, in this advert, the C electronic game is depicted as having 4 additional direction-based buttons in the place of the fire button on the right. The direction pad on the left itself has 2 additional buttons (up and down).

 
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TECHNICAL INFORMATION

-The third system button (next to the sound control) serves no apparent purpose. It was, however, intended to switch between 1 and 2 player modes upon starting the unit. This is supported by the patent. The game would switch to the other player once the current one either loses a life or completes the stage. This mode of 2 player is seen in the European version of arcade Contra, Gryzor (and most of its home computer conversions).

Additionally, there are text strings allocated to parts of the screen that do not appear anytime during gameplay; these are BONUS STAGE and STAGE. Furthermore, there is an unused music sample and possibly an unused sound effect. The unused audio is found only when first starting the game with complete data reset, such as using new batteries.

 
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TRIVIA

Cutting Room Floor:
There was originally supposed to be more content to this LCD game and the gameplay of the final product did not incorporate all of the planned features, as described in the patent.

-The game was originally supposed to contain 5 main stages and 2 bonus stages. For the latter, one would be after the second stage, while the other would be after the fourth.

-Related to the previous point, the length of levels 3-5 in the patent are homologous to the 3 levels in the final product. 1 and 2 in the patent would have had 15 and 16 distance markers, respectively.

-There was an alternating 2 player mode feature planned for the game, selected by the third system button. As this feature was scrapped, the button serves no purpose. Interestingly, this mode of 2 player is seen in the European version of arcade Contra, Gryzor (and most of its home computer conversions).

-It was originally possible to gain extra lives, after every 1500 points.

-Conversely, it was also possible to lose lives other than by getting killed. If the player let 10 enemies pass them by, a life would be deducted from the remaining number. This would have ensured that a pacifistic strategy of avoiding the enemies would have been impossible, requiring the player to defeat at least some enemies to succeed. It also draws a parallel to a similar penalizing mechanic with the base stages in the arcade original, and some of its home conversions, where the player would lose a life whenever the countdown timer reaches 0:00.

-The alien creatures were not originally intended to appear in the first stage. Also, defeating them would award the player 50 points, instead of 30. They would also move slower than the soldiers, which is the opposite in the final.

-A second type of shutter was planned, which would be encountered in the fifth stage. It would be indestructible and periodically alternate between being opened and closed. In the final, all targets are hidden behind shutters that must be destroyed.

-The targets themselves would increase in the number of shots required to destroy in each subsequent stage.

-Missile/cannon shell ports were initially distinct on the left wall.

-Each stage had a time limit under which to be completed.

-A rather interesting difference is that the player was originally supposed to move up/down, not left/right.

See above for more information.

Shameless Ripoff:
On the subject of Bob Wakelin’s artwork (see here), take a look at the LCD Contra game (both regions):

The artwork is nothing more than Bob Wakelin’s Gryzor template with the Konami logo and game title (according to region) superimposed over it. The Gryzor title is visibly obscured by the LCD handheld’s system buttons just below the screen, in addition to blackening.

Prototype Of Abbreviation:
This LCD handheld version of Contra is in fact the first Contra game for which the word Contra is abbreviated to C in the title for the North American release. The North American release of the NES version of Super Contra is more widely known for this abbreviation, but was released the following year.

Anachronism:
Despite the title being Contra, the playing field of the LCD Handheld version is based heavily on a section from the Super Contra intro.

Super Contra’s intro:

LCD Contra’s playing field:

The True First Portable Contra:
Operation C isn’t the first handheld Contra, despite being the first mainstream, standalone handheld Contra title. This LCD conversion holds the distinction, released in 1989.

Toy Hybrid:
Different companies were responsible for this LCD electronic game’s distribution in different countries. For example, Erbe Software handled its distribution in Spain:

v8hllx

Hornby Hobbies Ltd handled its distribution in England:

1511-Contra-KONAMI-LCD-Game_000

 
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PROMOTIONAL MEDIA

Posters And Ads

-Ads for the North American release:

s82cbn

lcdcad2

 
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