Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Night Rentals: Super Contra

Hey there kids! Do you need a game with that Contra feel, but extra punishing and so difficult you'll have broken your controller before you realize what you've done?


Well, no need to look any further, because we've taken your regular Contra game and made it about a million times better!  In fact it's down right super!


That's right, it's time to talk Super C for the NES. And boy howdy, I can remember getting so angry at this game back when I was a kid. Why did I get so angry? Well, for starters I got almost nowhere in the game thanks to the fact my beloved Konami code wasn't working. Not that I needed it all the time for the original Contra, but a security blanket was a nice thing to have every now and then. Only would get a few stages in, lose all my continues and lives, and then that was it. It was time to start all over again.  I seem to recall actively trying to enjoy this game back in the day. Guess I was a little spoiled with the old school Konami code, and not knowing this actually did have an extra life code, I tried to beat this game legitimately like the chump I was.  Well, thanks to the power of the internet I found out that I was mistaken all these years and there actually WAS an extra life code!  But as I wanted to see how things went this time around playing (and now finally owning the game), I thought I play again to see if I fared any better and enjoyed the game a second time around.  So how was it to relive the game?

So, those pesky aliens are back, trying to conquer the world, and for whatever reason they have managed to recruit some humans to help them. Thankfully you've got a slew of weapons to send your treacherous fellow humans to well-deserved graves. Oh, and unleash hell on the aliens as well.  All your favorite weapons are back from spread gun to machine gun. Of course, the utterly useless laser gun has come back as well, proving once again that clearly your enemies will fool you into thinking the laser is awesome--when of course this isn't true. In fact, I almost see it as dangerous as walking around without a gun. In fact, it might be more dangerous to use the laser than to just trying to run and avoid enemy fire as you will be tempted to use the laser and die as a result.

Gameplay pretty much feels like the original Contra, which means you're in for some run-and-gun awesomeness. I wasn't kidding earlier when I said that the game can get punishing at times.  The first stage, while easy-ish, still seems to have a steep learning curve and it won't be long before you're expect to dodge weapons fire from all directions. It's especially frustrating when trying to run along along and dodge some cover-based bomb chucker--only to have some jerk bum-rush you from behind.

It's still fun though. I mean what boy back then didn't want to sit down and play as a machine-gun toting, muscled up beef-cake? In the 80's and early 90's you had guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone plowing through bad guys like a fat guy with a bag of Doritos. It was an all guts, no glory type of gameplay that took no prisoners and surrender wasn't an option. It was like that with the original Contra and that action had returned full force.

The always tight control of Contra is still there in Super C, and that's both good and bad because as difficult as the game gets, you know that you were responsible for running your character into a bomb blast or bullet. No ridiculously bad hit boxes here. If you weren't tough enough to dodge a bullet, you probably didn't deserve to beat the game.

Oh, and the musical goodness from the original Contra? Don't worry, it's still here!

Gad, I miss old school Konami. Doesn't that sound track just ooze action? The beats, the tempo, the digitized drum beats. If it weren't for the fact I'm writing this little memory I'd probably pop the game in again just so I could have my guy running along and blowing away baddies to this music. 

Final Thoughts:

Confession time: when I rented this game as a kid, I only really gave it a try on the first night. Oh, I tried late into the night for sure (well, at least I tried as late as my parents allowed me to stay up). But when Saturday morning came, I tried only one or two more times. I think when Sunday rolled around I was well ready to return the game. What a pain! I was used to conquering games in a weekend, or at least left feeling like given a few more minutes I could beat it. But no, I gave up. Why? Because the game felt impossible!  When you rent a game as a kid you want to beat that game, show it who's boss--just like Arnie would!  Clearly the game was too hard and the programmers has screwed up, making an game that was impossible to beat.

Naturally, I love this game now. I get to blow up bad guys and aliens, how cool is that? Yeah, my perspective has changed. I no longer see it as just too hard or as a possibly "broken" game. It was beatable then, and it's certainly beatable now. I'm truly glad in how I've grown as a gamer....

But not nearly as glad as I am that I finally figured out that extra life code.

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