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2 copies of this demonstration build of Contra Spirits are known to exist. The first one was sold on Yahoo! Auctions Japan around 2009:


The second copy was sold in 2012 on the same website:


This one was later posted for auction on eBay, on September 5, 2015, by the seller soma_11:


2 days after the auction began and members had placed bids on the game, on September 7, the seller had ended the auction early and sold the prototype privately in an off-site deal. Currently, this copy is in the hands of JaxsBox, from the Nintendoage forum.

This build of Contra Spirits appears to be a store demo, very similar to the Contra Famicom Store Sample. Similar to that prototype, only a small portion of the game is playable, and advertising messages appear about the full game. Additionally, most of the full game is intact.

This is the extent of their similarities, however, as this particular sample contains many more differences from the final version. Only the third stage is playable and only on the Easy difficulty setting. The player is provided infinite lives.

The first difference can be seen with this menu, immediately upon startup:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)000

The choices refer to whether or not the full game was released yet and they determine some of the ad messages that appear throughout. Shopkeepers would select Hatsubai Mae (before sale) during the time prior to the game’s release; Hatsubai Go (after sale) would be selected after its release. The Konami logo sequence follows this menu, but the introductory sequence is absent.

Title screen:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)001

There is no Options menu selection (although the menu is present in the game) and only 1 style of 2 player mode is available (as opposed to 2 player A and B modes, in the final). The text at the bottom indicates that this is a demonstration version, and the copyright text below is blue instead of red.

Leaving the game idle will activate the attract demos, the first of which is the most interesting. A 1-player demo sequence of the first level is presented, with a text overlay that lists all of the powerups in the game:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)010

Notice the incorrect spelling in Horming Gun and Spirits Bom. Each powerup entry is highlighted in blinking red when it is currently being demonstrated. Even more interestingly, the first quarter of the stage has been modified to make all of the powerups appear in close succession, for the purpose of the demonstration (gun powerups appearing in pairs). Unlike in the final, the powerups do not blink and disappear after being left untouched.

The Barrier and Laser Gun appear later in this sample than the final; a Smart Bomb appears much earlier, before the first Wall mini-boss. The powerups appear in the following order:

-Spread (both powerups are in the same location as the final)
-Homing (same placement as final, but 2 appear, as mentioned above)
-Smart Bomb (apparently much stronger than in the final, as a single bomb destroys the Wall miniboss)

In the full game, no Flame Gun powerups appear in the first stage; the only way to hold this during this stage would be to carry it over from the previously completed game session. The difficulty in the tutorial appears to be the Hard Mode.

Following this weapons tutorial are another 4 gameplay demos of the first 4 stages in chronological order, in 2 player mode. The additional stage 1 demo begins later in the stage and lacks the text overlay. All 4 are different from the final and reflect more skilled players. After each of the 5 demos, advertisement screens appear as the Triumphant Return tune plays. The screen displayed depends on the selection made upon startup.

Hatsubai Mae:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)012

Rough translation: What will happen to these two people! Game on sale February 28th. Find out then.

Hatsubai Go:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)014

Rough translation: What will happen to these two people! Find out when the game goes on sale. On sale.

The intermission screen displays the current difficulty setting:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)002

Following this is an instructions screen that outlines the gameplay controls:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)003

In the third stage, the first powerup that appears is the Homing Gun, instead of the Flame Gun:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)004

In place of the Laser Gun is the Spread Gun:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)005

A Rolling Ducker enemy appears just before the hang rails in the final; here, it is absent and a Flame Thrower powerup appears instead:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)006

Following the first mini-boss battle, a series of fused rockets launch up from the bottom of the screen, in the final; here, they are absent. Additionally, the first powerup that appears following this segment is the Spread Gun, in the final; it is instead a Crush Gun in this sample:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)007

Upon defeating the terminator-like mini-bosses, the screen shakes, instead of the stage boss’ first set of claws tearing through the door, and then fades to black. Next, the following messages appear over the stage 2 completion screen backdrop as the stage boss theme plays:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)008

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)009

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)0010

The next screen that appears depends on the option selected upon startup.

Hatsubai Mae:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)011

Rough translation: What kind of enemy is in wait? Find out February 28th. On Sale.

Hatsubai Go:

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)013

Rough translation: What kind of enemy is in wait? Find out when the game goes on Sale.

Shortly afterwards, the game loops back to the Konami logo sequence.

As mentioned above, most of the rest of the game is present in the data, but is locked out. The use of patch codes can bypass the lockout, and the codes for the final can also be used here. The rest of the stages can be accessed, but they have undergone variable amounts of changes.

-The cheat codes can still be triggered, although the 30 lives code has no effect due to the player(s) having the lives locked at 3 (infinitely).

-The options menu is present and is accessible through patch codes. However, the player cannot exit from the screen, and it is currently not known how to apply any changes made in this menu.

-There doesn’t appear to be any stage completion intermission screens.

-Stages can be accessed via either patch codes or the stage select cheat code. In the menu accessed through the latter, stage 3 is highlighted by default instead of 1.

-Stage 1 appears exactly as it does in the special weapons tutorial, including the overlaid text and densely populated powerup locations near the start. It is otherwise the same. Completing this stage returns the player to the Konami logo sequence.

-Completing stage 2 returns the player to the Konami logo sequence.

-Stage 4 is missing the entire tunnel sequence and the first mini-boss battle (tank), starting the player as the ship approaches. Completing this stage returns the player to the Konami logo sequence.

-Defeating the stage 5 boss results in the boss remaining permanently in a part of the destruction animation, halting all progress. The player must restart the game.

-The first third of stage 6 (before the pulsing surroundings) appears corrupt as most of the graphics were removed (in order to include the ad messages and other content):

Contra Spirits (J-Sample)015

Similar to stage 5, defeating the brain boss results in it looping a part of its destruction sequence, requiring the player to restart the game.

-It is currently uncertain whether or not the ending sequences are present.

Many aspects of this pre-release, such as the intermission screen and the different elements of the third stage, suggest that it is a slightly earlier build and not simply a gameplay limiting sample.

Credit to Yakumo of AssemblerGames for providing the translations.

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