Contra: Showing How Games Can Be Difficult

This Game Will Make You Slam Your Controller On The Wall!

Contra Feature Image
Source: PEG, YouTube

When it comes to the domain of video gaming, “Contra” is the only title that evokes more frustration than nostalgia. Since the release of its first installment in 1987, Contra has been notoriously difficult yet fun to play run-and-gun game. It has stood the hallmark of having the most challenging gameplay ever.

Key Takeaways

  • Contra is known for its challenging gameplay and several other aspects.
  • With new releases in the series, every game introduced a new type of play and a different difficulty level.
  • The game series went from hardest to easiest gameplay.
  • Every gamer holds a different view of Contra games in terms of complexity.

Contra, Battling In The Monstrous Island

Launched on NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) by Konami, Contra was plotted around the two protagonists: Commanders Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. The game’s objective was to destroy the fictional Island, Galuga archipelago, where the evil Red Falcon Organization had set up its base. This may sound easy to play, yet it is hard to achieve.

Contra 1987
Source: PEG, YouTube

Gameplay, The Epitome Of Difficulty

Contra is a mixture of fast-paced gameplay and intense action. Players guide a commando through scrolling levels filled with horrendous enemies. The challenging nature of Contra arises from several fundamental designs, creating an arduous experience for gamers:

1) One Hit Death: The most infuriating element is its one-hit-kill. The character dies with just one hit from the enemy or any hazard. The unforgiving part of the mechanic means – even the slightest lethargy can lead to failure, needing consistency, precision, and focus.

Contra Deaths
Source: MasterOfHyrule, YouTube

2) Ruthless and Relentless Enemies: The enemies keep respawning continuously while often making surprise attacks from different directions. The sudden bombardment of foes requires constant vigilance and instant reaction to defend against attacks.

3) Complicated Level Design: These meticulously crafted environments feature complex patterns of enemies, obstacles, and traps, making handling them very demanding for a player. Without quick reflexes and memory of the enemies’ placements, one cannot even think about clearing the levels.

4) Power-Ups Being Scarce: Contra features power-ups that significantly boost firepower and abilities, but they are not easily obtained and can be lost with a single hit from enemies. The art of managing and utilizing these power-ups is a crucial and satisfying part of the game, adding a layer of complexity that rewards skill and strategy.

5) Co-op Gameplay: Co-op is a pivotal and rewarding aspect of the game. When playing multiplayer, teamwork is not just beneficial, it’s essential. The players must synchronize their actions, devise strategies, and communicate effectively to overcome obstacles and make Contra a truly engaging and fun experience.

6) Limited Lives: The game starts with a player having a finite number (3) of lives. Running out of lives means restarting from the beginning of the latest checkpoints. This puts additional pressure on players to progress without mistakes. 

However, the developers blessed Contra lovers with a “Lives Code,” which gives players an extra package of thirty lives by entering particular keys.

Different Games, Different Difficulties

Contra holds the title of being the most challenging game. Nevertheless, the players found the subsequent Contra entries to have a cluster of easy and hard difficulty levels compared to the original Contra games. Each Contra game is different and requires a different skill level.

Contra Alien Wars
Source: THE GAME LIST, YouTube

As we witnessed Contra 1987, due to its complexity, the sequel Super Contra was seen with improved adjustments in level designs, increased difficulty, and the addition of new weapons, while the multiplayer mode option stayed.

My List of Contra Games, From Hardest To Easiest

Contra: Hard Corps: Best Contra in the whole series! A perfect blend of great gameplay, catchy music, and graphics. However, the game is brutal in many aspects and won’t let you chew through easily.

Contra: The initiator of the Contra series is infamous for its high difficulty and for causing gamers to anger.

Contra 4: It has managed to maintain the traditional difficulty level with engaging gameplay and intense boss fights.

Super Contra: An advanced level of original Contra with gameplay enhancements requires more master skills, precis,ion and planned tactics.

Super Contra
Source: THE GAME LIST, YouTube

Contra: Shattered Soldiers: It possesses a tough and nail-biting gameplay yet is a little relaxed in difficulty.

Contra: The Alien Wars: It remains challenging at the beginning but becomes easier in later levels. The game also introduced a new variety of gameplay.

Contra: Rouge Corps: Although every review states it differently, I consider it the easiest in the whole series. 

Despite the list, every fan has their style of analyzing and enjoying the game. For example, Super Contra is the hardest for many, while only some find any of the Contra games difficult. Regardless, a game’s primary purpose is to be played for enjoyment.

Ultimately, “Contra” stands as the prime example of the impact a game can have on players, depicting how a game can entertain, amuse, and motivate people to do better.

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