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Contra (review) NES

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

This game was originally released by Konami in 1987 on arcades , then shortly after it was ported to the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) in 1988. Well where can I start? This game hands down has to be one of the most difficult yet addicting run and gun games on the NES's library.


In 1987, two armed Elite Marine Commandos "Contra" named Mad Dog and Scorpion are sent on a mission to neutralize a terrorist organization called Red Falcon that is secretly planning to take over the entire world and it is up to this two man army to put an end to this madness once and for all.

When being ported over to the NES Contra received several changes to make it more appealing to the North American market. The year of the setting was changed from 2633 to 1987 (the year of the arcade version's release) and the location was moved from the Galuga Islands to the Amazon. Bill and Lance were also given the codenames of Mad Dog and Scorpion.


The game is not easy but at least it is straight forward, run and shoot! (everything that moves).The game consists of 8 stages which as you'd expect increase rapidly in difficulty, you have the option of running solo or with a buddy simultaneously (helps immensely). The controls are simple as well, and within a few minutes you should know all the mechanics. As you go through each stage you'll come across several power ups either in pill-box sensors or weapon capsules.

They are labeled by letters. (L) Laser, (F) Flamethrower, (M) Machine Gun, (R) Rapid Fire, (S) Spread Gun. Hands down the best weapon is the Spread Gun, each time you fire you shoot 5 bullets per shot that spread more the further they travel therefore helping you clear out anyone in your way

You do lose any power-up equipped when you die, which can be quite frustrating when fighting a boss

Your goal is to proceed towards the last stage (8) which is the Alien's Lair where you will face the Gomeramos King which is in controlling all the aliens you faced from stages 3-8.


The graphics for this game are clean and impressive for its time, they even hold up well today when compared to some of its NES counterparts. Everything is clearly represented and easy to differentiate which is helpful because enemies are always trying to kill you from all directions! Every stage is quite different from the other besides stages 2 and 4 (Base 1 & Base 2), which basically have the same exact layout as each other.

This game is one of the toughest games to beat on the NES, fortunately for us the Konami Code works on this game and once entered on the title screen you'll receive a generous donation of 30 lives (instead of usual 3). Even though the Konami Code was already around for use in Gradius (1985), Contra was the game that popularized the Konami Code in North America and many knew it as the "Contra Code" and "30 Lives Code.

Stage 5 - Snow Field


9/10 Outstanding

Overall this game contains all the elements necessary to to keep you coming back for more. The only negative regard toward the game is that there is no dialogue but you quickly forget about that with the excellent graphics, controls, and gameplay.


Contra was voted No. 1 by gaming website as being the "Toughest Game to Beat"

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