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Native Platform: Arcade
Media/Formats: Arcade Cabinet
Publisher: NTSC-J: Konami
Release:NTSC-J: January 8, 1988
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Super Contra is the arcade sequel to the start of the Contra series, with its plot continuing 1 year after the events of the first game. Bill and Lance must take on the returning alien threat, Red Falcon, which has seized a military base.
Although it plays very similarly to its predecessor, there are some key changes in the gameplay. The most notable change is the use of overhead-view stages in replacement of the pseudo-3D base stages. Although there are 5 stages, like arcade Contra, the game is much shorter, with the final stage being an overhead one of regular length.
Another change is to the weapon system. Featuring most of the weapons from Contra, they can be upgraded to a second level by acquiring a second of the same weapon powerup. Additionally, the player can control the height of their jump by holding the joystick up (higher) or down (lower) while jumping. Simultaneous 2-player mode is retained.
Super Contra is significantly more difficult than its predecessor, from which part of the game’s criticism stems. There is a far greater amount of enemies attacking the player at any given time, with more aggressive attacks. The gun powerups are represented by small gun icons; as a result, players may find it difficult to determine what gun they will acquire.
Visually, the game features a grittier presentation, using a smaller and less vibrant palette. However, the style presents a greater level of realism in a military (and later, alien lair) setting. The stage designs are more intricate and their backgrounds provide a more “busy” feel (more animation, etc.). One innovation to the level design is the use of sloped surfaces and terrains in the side-view stages. In addition, explosions feel more powerful as they are louder, more numerous and intense. The soundtrack is more fast-paced and intense.
The danger of falling off the screen (death pits), present in the Waterfall stage of its predecessor, is absent in this arcade sequel. As such, it does not feature any platforming elements. Conversely, bosses are designed more dynamically, requiring more strategy to overcome their patterns.
Despite the gameplay differences and upgrades, Super Contra provides the same run-n-gun experience as its predecessor, at its core: hordes of enemies and large bosses, a variant arsenal, diverse stage settings and 1-hit deaths. True to many arcade games of its era, including the original Contra, choosing to continue after a Game Over starts the player where they were last killed.
The arcade original Super Contra, like its arcade predecessor, is considered inferior to the NES version. This is likely due to the fact that many players knew of the NES version first and, in fact, were unaware of the arcade original’s existence until its port to the XBox 360; many among the gaming community were expecting the NES version and instead, received a much more difficult and visually distinct version. Despite this, many feel that the quirky controls, vertical display and brutal difficulty make for an unpleasant gaming experience.
The arcade original is also notable for its introductory sequence, which features absurd dialogue.
NTSC-J instruction cards:
Note: These stage names are unofficial.
Stage 1: Outpost
Stage 2: Base
Stage 3: Jungle
Stage 4: Catacombs
Stage 5: Breeding Ground
In 2634, the aliens from the previous invasion return and invade a South American military base, taking control of all of its military personnel. Called back in to resolve the situation are Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. After taking down the compromised troops, the duo gain access to the alien outpost and succeed in destroying the aliens for a second time.
Bill Rizer – protagonist; playable
Lance Bean – protagonist; playable
Red Falcon – antagonist organization
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•What Is This Place
•Ruined Base – Great Heli
•In A Tight Squeeze
•Creature From Outer Space
•Hotter Than Hell
•Pattern Clear No. 1
•Pattern Clear No. 2
•Unused 3 (NES Super Contra stage 5)
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There are currently no known variants of the arcade version of Super Contra.
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