Nothing less than three decades ago Konami burst into the arcades with a proposal of action in side scrolling that condensed in a single game all the clichés of the alien movies, commands and science fiction to propose us to live the action adventure and definitive shots.
A terrorist organization of extraterrestrial origin? Maybe today sounds crazy… but those suicide missions are the specialty of soldiers Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. In fact, the covers of the series plagiarized without care the covers of films like ‘Predator’ or ‘Rambo’ to illustrate the protagonists in each delivery, although in these you could read another name, that of the combat unit ‘Contra’.
If today we spoke of a cooperative shooter developed by Konami, more than one player of the so-called PlayStation generation would raise an eyebrow. And it would not be because of the originality of the proposal, but because the records of the company of ‘Dance Dance Revolution’, ‘Pro Evolution Soccer’ or a ‘Metal Gear’ without Kojima in the lead are too far from formulas that -day of Today- they are still playing among the players, although now they do it in the first person.
However, the games of the series ‘Against’ are still remembered today despite the fact that it has not had the same support as the other classic Konami licenses. In fact, if you had a console of 8 or 16 bits, you may have played a game in the saga … and you are discovering it right now. Of course, in this case is not due to a problem of royalties (and is that, as we will see, developers did not have the slightest qualms about using Aliens or Terminators in the game ) but that those were other times…
Against: the game that started the saga
We may now complain about the level of difficulty of ‘Dark Souls’. But if the games before were demanding, the ‘Contra’ was Machiavellian. The first game of the series began in one of many tropical jungles in which either alone or accompanied we would have the responsibility to destroy a terrorist organization.
Now, what I did not put on the service sheet is that we would embark on a Kamikaze mission with aliens, robots, tanks and all kinds of dangers and authentic festivals of bullets and explosions… and our currency would only allow us to be reached a time, with two extra attempts. the rules of the game were very simple: aim where you want and do not touch bullets or enemies. If you play only you started from the beginning and no protective shields. How could that be fun?
Beyond the recreational, and also in 1987, we had the opportunity to overcome it from PC and consoles through a series of Western conversions, highlighting a technologically limited NES adaptation that made more than one learn the iconic Kodigo Konami to be able to Share the game – and the adventure – with our friends and family. And if playing alone was crazy, the funniest thing was playing ‘Contra’ in cooperative.
As a curiosity, that version came censored to the United States and Europe. In the first case because its name referred to a Nicaraguan guerrilla with which distributors were not very comfortable; in the second, because in Germany they saw it wrong to foment all that violence so generously… unless it was executed by robots! Do you hear the game ‘Probotector’ ? that was the original ‘Contra’ with the sprites changed by a kind of ‘Transformers’, and that decision would be maintained in its subsequent sequels for Gameboy and Super Nintendo.
After two more deliveries for NES, an adaptation for Game Boy, a version reimagined and improved in technical and artistic Super Nintendo by some of the best talents of Konami and a highly acclaimed Megadrive delivery that squeezed the most out of the possibilities of SEGA’s 16 bits, it was clear that ‘Contra’ was one of the strong sagas of the company and then 32-bit consoles arrived.
The second youth of the Konami mercenaries
The debut of the series ‘Contra’ on the original PlayStation came in 1996 with ‘Contra: Legacy of War’, the first installment developed by the external US studio Appaloosa and which changed the sprites for polygonal models.
Maybe the best thing that can be said about this version is that for the first time the saga was published in Europe with the name of ‘Contra’. However, a change in the game system and a commitment to three-dimensional environments would end up greatly conditioning the gameplay, being the first of a series of trips in the series. Appaloosa returned to try two years later with ‘C: The Contra Adventure’ and the best that can be said about it is that it did not leave the North American market.
After the turn of the millennium Konami resumed the production of the saga with two deliveries for PlayStation 2 made by the original development studios and that recovered the game system of the classics by raising the doses of fantasy and action, but facing a generation of players very different and looking for another series of more avant-garde experiences.
For its part, Konami offered three more deliveries for Nintendo consoles : a port of ‘Contra III’ for Gameboy Advance, a magnificent fourth installment numbered for Nintendo DS that finally never arrived in Europe and an exclusive Wii delivery that will arrive in 2009 under his label ‘WiiWare’ and that offered more nostalgia than new features, although he was not modest enough at an artistic level, and the series did not need much more to like.
The latest installment in consoles will come to Xbox 360 and PS3 renamed to ‘Hard Corps: Uprising’ by Arc System Works (creators of the ‘Guilty gear’ saga) and who opted for handmade drawings on environments made in 3D, which It was a more than remarkable success. That aspect was like a glove to the saga, but what fans most appreciated was to enjoy a proposal even more demanding than those of recreational.
Against Evolution and the future of the series
It’s no surprise that Konami has dragged for years a huge trunk of licenses that refuses to open, and one of the most accused is that of ‘Contra’.
The fifteenth and last official installment of the series – if we do not take into account a ‘Contra Mobile’ (and we have reasons not to do so) – it would reach mobile and recreational devices such as ‘Against: Evolution’, a kind of remake of the original made by the Chinese study Chu Kong Technologies and whose overloaded textures are a clear example of denomination of origin. However, and being fair, that first ‘Contra’ was not designed to be played with digital pads.
For the time being, and after a relatively blank year in the field of domestic games, Konami has been strengthened economically and has begun to bet on their licenses, sticking out a very well received ‘Bomberman R’ in Switch.
The legacy of contra continues, sometimes in the form of a new ‘Metal Slug’ and its screens and crazy power ups, others in the form of ‘Gears of War’ and its intense cooperatives and we can not forget about games like ‘Doom’ that we They return that feeling of chaos, frenzy and difficulty. However, if brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee have recently returned, there is still room for us to see Bill and Lance save humanity once again.