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Contral (logo).png
Genre(s) run and gun-style shoot-'em-ups
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Platform(s) Arcade, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, IBM PC, Nintendo Entertainment System, MSX2, Amiga, Game Boy, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Mega Drive/Genesis, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, Mobile, Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade), Nintendo DS, Wii (Wiiware)
Platform of origin Arcade

Contra (魂斗羅?) is a video game series produced by Konami comprised primarily of run and gun-style shoot-'em-ups. The series debuted in 1987 as a coin-operated arcade game simply titled Contra, which was followed by the release of Super Contra in 1988 and several sequels produced for various home platforms.

The in-universe use of the term "Contra" is first explained within in the Japanese instruction card of the arcade version of Contra, and reiterated in most games (including Contra: Shattered Soldier), as "a title awarded to a superior soldier possessing almost super human drive and ability, while excelling in guerrilla tactics".

In Japanese, the title is spelled with the kanji characters 魂斗羅 or Kontora. This is a form of ateji, in which the characters are used for their phonetic pronunciations rather than any inherent meaning they may have.

The arcade version of Contra was released on February 1987, a few months after the Iran-Contra affair was made public. While it is unclear whether the game was deliberately named after the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, it should be noted that the ending theme of the original game was titled "Sandinista" (サンディニスタ?), after the adversaries of the real-life Contras.[1]



Contra: Shattered Soldier

The majority of the Contra games are side-scrolling shoot-'em-ups where the player takes control of an armed commando who must fight all sort of extraterrestrial monsters and other kinds of futuristic menaces. In addition to the side-scrolling stages, the original Contra also featured "3D view" levels where the player must move towards the background in order to progress, while subsequent titles, such as Super Contra and Contra III: The Alien Wars, feature overhead stages as well. Only the Appaloosa-developed installments in the series, Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure, as well as Neo Contra, deviated from the series' side-scrolling perspective (although Contra Adventure does feature two side-scrolling stages). Contra: Shattered Soldier, while maintaining the side-view perspective of the 2D games, features fully polygonal 3D graphics. Almost every game in the series, with only a few exceptions (such as the MSX2 version of Contra or Operation C for the Game Boy, which were single-player only), allows for up to two-players to play the game simultaneously.

The main power-ups in the series are falcon-shaped letter icons which will replace the player's default weapon with a new one, such as a Laser Gun or a Spread Gun. There are also power-ups that are actually auxiliary items like the Barrier (which provides temporary invincibility) or the Rapid Bullets (which increases the firing speed of the player's current weapon) in the original Contra, as well as weapons, such as the Mega Shell in the arcade version of Super Contra and the Bombs in Contra III and Contra: Hard Corps, that are used to destroy all on-screen enemies. The original arcade version of Contra used the falcon icons for all of its weapons except the Laser Gun and the Fire Ball weapon, while in the arcade version of Super Contra, no Falcon icons were used. Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra both deviate from this tradition by having set weapon configurations instead.

Most of the Contra games have the player begin the game with only a set number of lives (three in most console games). If the player gets hit, they will lose a life along with any weapon they currently possess in some games. Even in the original arcade versions, most of the games only give limited chances to continue before forcing the player to start all over. Extra lives are usually obtained in most games when the player reaches certain scores. The NES version of the original Contra used the Konami Code (previously featured in the NES version of Gradius) to start the game with thirty lives instead of the usual three. Most of the subsequent console games in the series only featured these extra lives codes in their Japanese releases, such as Contra Spirits (the Japanese version of Contra III) and Contra: The Hard Corps.



Original games

First game in the series. Many of the series' convention such as power-ups, two-player cooperative gameplay and the character's light mobility (including somersaults) were already present in this game. The game is composed of traditional side-view stages that scroll either vertically or horizontally, as well as "3D view" stages in which the player moves towards the backgrounds. The NES version is essentially identical to the arcade version in terms of content, but has longer stages and other modifications. In Japan, the Famicom version uses the VRC2 chip, which allowed for additional background animation and cut-scenes not included in its North American NES counterpart. An MSX2 version was also produced that is drastically different from the other two versions. Several computer versions were done outside Japan, by Ocean in Europe for the C64, CPC and ZX, and by Banana Software in North America for DOS based PCs.
Super Contra replaced the "3D view" stages from the original with "top-view" stages similar to those in Commando or Ikari Warriors. Features unique to the arcade version includes upgradeable weapons and the ability to control the character's jumping height. The NES version (retitled Super C for its North American version) has three new stages and a new final boss, but lacks the upgradable weapons from the arcade game. Unlimited Software created DOS and Amiga conversions for the North American market, based on the arcade original.
The first game made specifically for a portable platform. Featuring gameplay similar to the NES version of Super C, Operation C is the first game to make the machine gun the player's standard weapon. Operation C also first introduced the "homing gun" power-up.
The series' first entry for a 16-bit game console, Contra III allows the player's character to climb into walls or railings and carry two weapons that can be switched back and forth, as well as smart bombs that kill all on-screen enemies. Many of the stages and bosses made use of the system's Mode 7 graphic effects, including a bike riding stage that ends in a midair battle with the main character riding missiles. The player is now required to rotate their character in the top-view stages to move along with the scenery. Two heavily modified portable ports were produced. A port for the original Game Boy simply titled Contra: The Alien Wars, and a later Game Boy Advance port titled Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX, which replaced the top view stages with levels from Contra: Hard Corps.
Contra Force combines the run and gun style of the Contra series with a power-up system similar to the Gradius. The game is notable for being the first Contra to feature selectable characters with their unique weapon configurations. Contra Force lacks the alien invaders and futuristic environment of previous installments, as the game centers around an elite task force fighting human terrorists in a present day setting. The game was actually planned as an unrelated game in Japan as Arc Hound, but was never officially released there, nor in Europe.
The first Contra game for a Sega platform. Hard Corps also contains selectable characters with unique weapons and abilities and introduces an in-game storyline with branching paths that alters the ending.
The first of two Contra titles developed by Appaloosa Interactive, as well as the first attempt to convert the Contra gameplay to 3D. Was originally sold with a pair of anaglyph glasses. The first console Contra game to be released in the PAL region with no changes. A Japanese release of Legacy of War was planned, but canceled.
  • C: The Contra Adventure (PlayStation) (1998)
The second Contra game developed by Appaloosa. The gameplay is composed of several side-scrolling and 3D stages, as well as a single overhead stage. It's the only console game in the series to lack a multiplayer mode. C: The Contra Adventure was only released in North America, with no Japanese nor European versions.
Features 2D side-scrolling gameplay with fully polygonal 3D graphics. The player now has a fixed weapon configuration, allowing the character to use one of three weapons. The player can also charge their weapon for a more powerful shot. The game grades the player's performance on each stage and only allows the good ending to those with an above-average rank.
The first game in the series to be composed entirely of overhead stages. The player can now select their weapon configurations, which includes a weapon that locks onto airborne enemies.
Developed by WayForward Technologies. The gameplay is displayed on two screens and the player's character now has a grappling hook that latches onto railings. The gameplay system is modeled after Contra III, with upgradeable weapons similar to Super Contra. It also features the return of the 3D view "tunnel" stages from the original Contra. The game has never been released in Europe.
Developed by M2 and published by Konami for WiiWare.[2] This new 2D side-scrolling game was released in May 2009 in Japan and features Bill Rizer and Genbei Yagyu from Neo Contra fighting off an alien invasion.[3]


The original arcade versions of Contra and Super Contra were ported to several computer platforms in North America and Europe during the late 1980s and 1990s. In North America, the original Contra and Super Contra (as Super C) were ported to DOS. A version of Super C was also released for the Commodore Amiga. Contra was released for the DOS, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in Europe under the Gryzor title.

As software emulation become more widespread, the classic Contra games, both arcade and console installments, are being made available in numerous formats such as downloadable game services like the Wii's Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade, video game compilations, stand-alone re-releases and even as unlockable games in newer installments. Mobile Phone versions have been produced as well. For more information, see each individual game page.

Canceled games

Originally announced in late 1998, this Nintendo 64 incarnation of the series was to be developed by Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka, but was later canceled when the development team disbanded.[4]

Other appearances

  • Konami Wai Wai World (Family Computer) - Although released a month before the Famicom version of Contra, the final boss theme is the game is the same one used in the original Contra.
  • Wai Wai World 2: SOS!! Parsley Jō (Family Computer) - Bill Rizer appears as a playable character among other Konami characters.
  • Snatcher (Sega CD) - The English localization features two characters masquerading as Bill and Lance at a Konami-themed costume party held at the Outer Heaven night club.
  • Nanobreaker (PlayStation 2) - Jaguar from Neo Contra appears as a hidden character.
  • Best Student Council - A Konami-produced TV anime series. Pucchan's other hand puppet friend in episode 19 is named after Lance Bean, a nod to the Contra character.
  • Pawapuro-kun Pocket 8 (Nintendo DS) - One of the minigames is a Contra parody.


The first few Contra games centers around a pair of commandos named Bill Rizer and Lance Bean (who were originally modeled after action movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, both icons during the 1980s) who fought against alien invaders that attempted to invade the Earth by infiltrating their planet in the distant future of the 27th century. Voiceovers were done by a local Los Angeles DJ Hollywood Hancock, but scrapped later in production due to budget overruns. The original Contra had them fighting against the Red Falcon organization at the Galuga islands, while Super Contra dealt with the alien's possession of the GX Army in South America. Operation C (released simply as Contra in Japan), deviated from the alien invasion plots by identifying the adversary as an unknown superpower creating new alien-based weapons. Contra III: The Alien Wars (Contra Spirits) features Bill and Lance engaging the aliens during their full-scale invasion of Earth.

Contra: Hard Corps is the first game in the series (not counting Contra Force) not to feature the traditional heroes, Bill and Lance. Instead the main characters were an elite task force consisting of four unique characters, as they fought against the renegade Colonel Bahamut to prevent him from cloning an alien.

Contra: Shattered Soldier brought back the old heroes, but with an added dark twist. Bill Rizer is once again the protagonist, but this time he is now a war criminal convicted of destroying 80% of the Earth's population. His former partner Lance Bean is believed to be murdered by him, but resurfaces as the terrorist leader of Blood Falcon. A female cyborg named Lucia takes Lance's place as the second main character. It is revealed near the end that the alien invaders from the past games were really guardians looking to recover a powerful relic that was stolen by the Triumvirate, the supreme rulers of the Federation Government.

Neo Contra, set in 4444 AD, features a revived Bill teaming up with the Space Samurai Jaguar as they take on the now corrupted Earth. The Bill Rizer in the game is revealed to be a clone of the original Bill Rizer, while the main antagonist, Master Contra, is revealed to be the original Bill Rizer's mind transferred into a weapon.

North American localization

The early Contra games were released without any opening intros or endings that explained the game's storyline (although the Famicom version of Contra did have an opening intro, it was removed in its NES counterpart due to the conversion from Konami's VRC2 chip to a Nintendo-made UNROM). Because of this, the authors of the American manuals would have a different interpretation of the game's story from the ones featured in Japanese manuals and other official sources.

The instruction manual for the NES version of Contra establishes the game to be set in present day, instead of a futuristic setting. The location of the game was also established to be an undisclosed region of Central America near the ruins of a Mayan temple instead of Galuga. While Bill and Lance retained their given names, they were also given the codenames of Mad Dog and Scorpion, which they were more commonly referred by than their original names. The instruction manual for Super C for the NES and Operation C featured similar changes, with the plot description of Super C written in a humorous tone similar to the manual for Snake's Revenge. The manual of Operation C identifies the villain as another alien invader named "Black Viper", with "Red Falcon" referring to the names of the alien invaders themselves instead of merely being the name of an organization.

When Contra III was released in North America, the manual now identified the main characters as Jimbo and Sully, the descendants of Bill and Lance respectively. This was done since the game's opening intro states the date of the story, establishing its futuristic setting and an explanation would be needed to explain the discrepancy between this and the supposed present-day setting of previous games. The localization of Contra: Hard Corps was not affected by this and the plot remained the same in that game.

When Shattered Soldier was released in North America, the English localization actually kept the game's plot intact. The timeline presented in the game now followed the actual Japanese continuity and canon. Since Contra Force (which was planned as an unrelated game), along with the Appaloosa-developed games, Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure, were not released in Japan, they are unmentioned in this timeline.

The US-developed Contra 4 follows this new continuity, but integrates elements from the old American localizations as well, such as reintroducing the alien Black Viper as the game's main villain, as well as introducing two new characters bearing Bill's and Lance's former American codenames. The events of Operation C are depicted in the timeline featured in the official website and game's manual as a previous mission against Black Viper by these two new characters. The Japanese version, Contra: Dual Spirits, does not acknowledge these changes.


Even though the arcade versions of Contra and Super Contra were distributed in Europe with their graphical content unchanged (with the former receiving a name change to Gryzor), Konami were forced to change the in-game graphics for the NES version, replacing the human characters with robotic counterparts, when it was released in the PAL region possibly due to a strict indexing policy of Germany´s Federal Department BPjM that would especially target graphical depiction of human beings killing each other in video games. Konami changed the game's title to Probotector (a portmanteau of "robot" and "protector), replacing Bill and Lance with robotic counterparts named RD008 and RC011, as well as most of the human enemy characters.

The subsequent games in the series, Super C for the NES and Contra III: The Alien Wars for the SNES received the same treatment, becoming Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces and Super Probotector: Alien Rebels respectively. The Game Boy versions were subjected to this conversion as well, with Operation C and Contra: The Alien Wars becoming the Game Boy versions of Probotector and Probotector 2. The PAL version of Contra: Hard Corps, which was simply titled Probotector, was the last game to undergo this conversion. The Mega Drive version of Probotector does not follow the continuity of the previous games and drastic revisions were made to the plot.

The first console Contra game to remain intact in the PAL region would be the PlayStation game Contra: Legacy of War (C: The Contra Adventure was not released). Every new Contra game released afterwards in the PAL region, including Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX (the GBA version of Contra III) were released unchanged and with the same localization given in the American version. However, the censored "Probotector" versions of the older games are still released on the Wii's Virtual Console with the uncensored versions unavailable in Europe. A Probotector character was also included in Contra 4. However, the game has not been announced for a European release date.


  1. ^ Album notes for A-JAX~コナミ・ゲーム・ミュージック VOL.4 (A-Jax: Konami Game Music Vol. 4 [booklet]. G.M.O. Records / Alfa Records (28XA-201).
  2. ^ "Konami Announces Contra Rebirth for WiiWare". Nintendo World Report. 2009-05-09. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  3. ^ Hatfield, Daemon (2009-05-12). "Contra ReBirth Impressions". IGN. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  4. ^ IGN staff (January 29, 1999). "Contra Canned". Retrieved 2008-12-24. 

External links


Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

The Contra series
ContraSuper ContraOperation C • The Alien Wars • Hard Corps • Shattered Soldier • Neo Contra • Contra Force • Legacy of War • The Contra Adventure • Contra 4
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