Contra Encyclopedia home page

Super Contra main page

Select a trivium:

Seriously, Cheaters Never Prosper
Overkill Is Underrated
Vestigial Maneuver
What Is This Intro?
Rib The Elite
Missing In Action
Visuals < Gameplay
Konami The Dirty
Alien Invasions, Nothing Changes
Super Harmless Borrowing
Convoluted Names
Super Rambo
Aliens In The Battlefield
Love Is Alienating
Recycled Relics


If the player increases their score while progressing very little in the level, large fireballs launch upwards from the bottom of the screen to attack the player.

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The powerups in the arcade Super Contra are gun sprites, like in its arcade predecessor. However, all of its gun powerups are represented by gun sprites. In addition, the sprite actually represents the gun powerup it provides; furthermore, the gun sprite in the player’s hand varies with the gun they currently have. The downfall to this mode of play is the difficulty in determining which gun is yielded, especially when fighting large amounts of enemies.

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The upgraded Machine Gun is the most powerful weapon upgrade in Super Contra, and arguably the most useful. During development, there was some concern among the developers that the gun was overpowered; however, the director actually liked the extremely high rate of fire and approved of this form of the weapon.

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The original arcade Super Contra features next to no platforming gameplay, except for small segments in the fourth stage. Therefore, the ability to control the player’s jumping height may seem excessive, as even simply jumping may not be necessary in the game. However, this feature was implemented to expand the evasive tactic, as the player faces more enemies and other dangers.

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For the location testing of the arcade game, the director was hesitant to show the title screen and introductory sequence due to his concern for how the infamous ticker-tape style red text would be received. Fortunately, the reaction was positive and the sequence was considered innovative for its time.

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The Japanese version is notable for having a second loop of the game, that is extremely difficult, that must be completed to view the full ending. In addition to being set on the highest difficulty, the player had no continues. The difficulty was added in response to the emergence of very skilled players who could complete the game in a single credit. A parallel can be somewhat made to the backstory of the Nightmare! difficulty setting in the game Doom.

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There were originally supposed to be 7 stages in Super Contra. The conceptual sketches of this game that were released include depictions of vertically scrolling and behind-the-back pseudo-3D environments, both of which are present in the predecessor. It’s worth noting, as well, that the arcade version of Super Contra contains an unused track in the data that would later be used in a vertically scrolling stage exclusive to the NES version.

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The ending to the original Super Contra for arcade may seem inappropriate due to the way Bill (right) motions his gun.

Indeed, the carefully observant player may not be the only one to have noticed this. The ending to both home computer conversions, Super C, have a slightly different take on how Bill signals the arriving helicopter.


Commodore Amiga:

On a side note, pay close attention to the jeep in the arcade original: the word Konami is painted on its side.

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Emperor-Demon Gyaba, the triple-headed alien boss, began its legacy as the final boss of arcade Super Contra.

However, Gyaba technically began its legacy before Super Contra, in a non-Contra arcade game by Konami, named Battlantis. Like in the Contra series, it plays the major alien boss, referred to as Mad Emperor Asmodeus. The arcade game would later be re-released for XBox 360’s Game Room service, as well as Games For Windows – LIVE service for PC Windows.

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The design of Emperor-Demon Gyaba may be based on the design of the alien queen’s head from the film, Aliens.


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There has been confusion regarding the chronology of the early Contra games among the gaming community, with common misnomers of the games. Super Contra was often referred to as Contra 2, while Contra III was considered to be Super Contra (because of its system being the SNES). There is still confusion regarding this matter today, though not as profound.

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This poster for the arcade version of Super Contra is heavily based on a poster of Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo: First Blood Part II.

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Battlefield 3 pays homage to the original arcade version of Super Contra. In one part of the game, where the player navigates through the dark, there is a table on which a very accurate replica of Super Contra’s PCB is placed subtly. The PCB in-game:


The actual PCB for comparison:


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Konami’s Nintendo 3DS dating sim New LovePlus features a rendition of the stage 2 theme (In a Tight Squeeze).

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Numerous elements from its predecessor, Contra, have been reused in Super Contra. They span all aspects of the game, from sound/music to gameplay and from obvious to highly subtle. Often, they undergo minor modifications and variations. Similarly, the concept may be reused in a new or different application. The reuse may not even be intentional (ie, independent implementation). All such elements are listed below. In parentheses are any particularities or if the given element pertains to a specific version of Contra. The majority of these items pertain the original arcade version of Contra, unless specifically stated.


-Stage themes:
Enemy base

-Player characters:
Bill Rizer
Lance Bean

-Red Falcon organization

-Powerups appear in flying blimps

-Helicopter in the ending (NES Contra)

Sound Effects

-Player death

-Arsenal (see here for more information):
Spread Gun (loosely)


-Victory theme, played after completing most stages

-To some extent, the variant of the victory theme played after defeating the penultimate boss


-Similar style for the letters ONTRA in the word Contra in the title

-Bill and Lance are essentially sprite variants

-Bill and Lance’ attire colors (Famicom Contra)

-Roll-up jump

-Gun powerups are represented by gun sprites (arcade Contra’s Machine Gun and Laser Gun)


-Side scrolling (horizontal and vertical)

-Simultaneous 2 player mode

-Difficulty settings

-Ability to select starting number of lives

-1-hit death

-Temporary invincibility upon respawning

-Temporary invincibility upon starting each stage

-Continue system

-Point-based life gaining system

-8 primary and 8 intermediary aiming directions

-Shooting mechanics

-Powerup arsenal

-Powerups lost upon death

-Arsenal (see here for more information):
Normal Gun
Machine Gun
Laser Gun
Spread Gun
Shell (loosely based on NES Contra’s Special)

-Opposition (see here for more information):
Unarmed Foot Soldier (side view)
Rifle Foot Soldier (side view)
Guerrilla Foot Soldier (side view)
Unarmed Foot Soldier (overhead view)
Rifle Foot Soldier (overhead view)
Standing Sniper (side view)
Standing Sniper (overhead view)
Face Hugger
Worm Egg

Breeding Ground

-Tank drives nonstop across the screen in stage 1

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