Contra came to the NES, it was huge. It was so huge that newspapers
were forbidden from mentioning it at all because mere words would not
be able to convey the magnitude of its hugeness. Suffice to say, a
sequel had to be made. Thus, Super C came and made everyone's day.
Still, the bigwigs at Konami knew there must be more that they could
squeeze out of this title. And so, they decided to do what Nintendo
did with Super Mario Bros. 2, and slap the "Contra" name on an
unrelated game. Thus was born Contra Force.
third Halloween movie, the third
Contra game had nothing to do with anything. Rather than controlling
shirtless commandos, Bill and Lance, you and a friend are in command
of the Blue Group (not the Blue Man Group, mind you), a
counterterrorist group fighting some sort of mundane, earth-based
terrorist organization, as opposed to the high-tech alien terrorist
group, Red Falcon. In other words, there was pretty much nothing to
connect this with the rest of the Contra series, apart from dying
after a single hit and tucking yourself in a ball when you jumped.
different from the other Contra games is that you control a squad of
four men: Burns, Smith, Iron, and Beans. You choose from one of the
four in the beginning, and then you can switch to any of the other
three during the course of the game. Each one has access to two
specialty weapons, such as a machine gun that can only fire two
bullets at once, homing missiles with a ten-foot turning radius, and
time bombs (which work great in a game where you're constantly running
toward the enemy). Here's the kicker: in addition to being able to
switch to any of these colorful characters, you can also order one of
them to assist you during the game.
give the order and one of your compatriots will jump in and start
shooting at anything that moves. For five seconds. After the five
seconds have passed, you're on your own again, for as long as it takes
you to pause the game and bring your buddy back out. Seems kind of
pointless to me, since your partner is invincible when you do this,
and you can do an unlimited number of times, so it's a little tedious
pausing the game every five seconds to request a little backup.
biggest advantage the game has over the original (and let's fact it,
the REAL) Contra games is the destructible environment. Sure, you
could blast things like turrets and such in the previous games, but
the environments in Contra Force are just littered with blastable
stuff like oil barrels and fancy electronics, along with things that
explode, seemingly for no reason at all. Wooden crates, metals walls,
the corners of stuff, you'll be surprised at what those nasty
terrorists have packed with explosives.
of which, instead of getting weapons from floating pods, you'll find
briefcases that pop out of all that environmental stuff that explodes
for one reason or another. The briefcases themselves aren't weapons
(briefcase guns are only effective against office worker
aliens/terrorists), rather they allow you to unlock weapons and
power-ups by filling a power-up meter a la Gradius. Unfortunately,
this means you'll have to wait a fair amount of time before you can
trade in the default pea-shooter weapon for something with a little
more chutzpah. Unless of course, you decide to walk back to that
box/wall/whatever you just blew up and blow it up over and over again
until it starts giving you the briefcases you need.
Really, the best part of the game is the countless instances of
Engrish. The story is pretty ill-defined, and is spotted with great
lines like "how could you take a strong item like plutonium?" and at
one point, one of the villains states that "time is coming to an end."
Good lord, I thought, they plan on destroying time itself! These are
the greatest terrorists ever!!! None of it could compare, however, to
missing head? A figure lurking behind you? "Burns destiny"? This game
has it all.
The thing is, as bad as this game is, it's not the worst Contra game
out there. Sure, the weapons are weak, the plot is nonsensical, and
there's a glitch in the game that enables you to bypass most of the
enemies in the game by jumping in midair, but even with all that in
mind, you could be doing worse. It's really too bad that the bad guys
had to be ordinary terrorists, as it meant that cool, scary alien
bosses have been replaced with boring, run-of-the-mill, gun-toting
guys. Except for this guy:
He might be an alien.
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