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Contra (NES)

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Title Screen


Also known as: Probotector (EU)
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: NES
Released in JP: February 9, 1988
Released in US: February 12, 1988
Released in EU: November 1990

SoundtestIcon.png This game has a hidden sound test.
LevelSelectIcon.png This game has a hidden level select.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

ProtoIcon.png This game has a prototype article
DCIcon.png This game has a Data Crystal page

The NES game well known for being hardcore and hard and core.


Read about prototype versions of this game that have been released or dumped.
Prototype Info

Corrupted Samples

Much like the previous Double Dribble, Contra's DPCM samples are corrupted thanks to their bit order not being converted to the NES's specification. The most prominent song that suffers from this bug is Waterfall of Bloodshed's intro: the initial drumroll is supposed to build up into a crescendo, but the noisy snare makes it sound like a louder kick drum instead.

Original Samples

Regional Differences

Title Screen

Japan US Europe
Contraj title-1.gif Contra-title.png Contra e title-2.png

In the Japanese version, the title screen fades in from black and features animated flames inside the kanji characters. The US title screen scrolls in from the right, and in Probotector it appears instantaneously. The fonts used for the menu and copyrights text (which are also used for other text throughout the game) were slightly changed for the European version.

Japanese Differences

The US NES version and the Japanese Famicom version were both released around February 1988, suggesting that they were developed in tandem. However, the Famicom version had the advantage of using Konami's own self-produced VRC2 mapper, as unlike in other territories, third-party developers in Japan were allowed to manufacture their own cartridges and mappers for the Famicom instead of using only Nintendo's stock. This allowed the Famicom version of Contra to have many additional features, such as cut-scenes and background animations, that were not in any of the NES versions (which uses a standard UNROM mapper).


Famicom NES
ContraJapaneseMap.png Contra US intermission.png

At the start of each stage, the NES version displays the name of the stage on a simple black screen along with the current lives and scores for each player (with each score counter blinking), as well as the current high score. The Famicom version on the other hand has a more elaborate screen showing a side view of the whole Galuga archipelago (similar to the map used in Ghosts 'n Goblins), along with a top-down map, both displaying the player's current location. Additionally the Famicom version refers to each level as an "area" instead of "stage". The "area" terminology is also used in Super C and Operation C.


There are brief cut-scenes at the start of the game and between stages exclusive to the Famicom version.

Screenshot Japanese Translation
ContraJPFC MeaningofContra.png "魂斗羅"とは、



is a term for
the strongest combatants, possessing fierce fighting spirits
and the qualities required for guerrilla warfare.

(This is written in a rather grandiose and old-fashioned manner.
Rather than being spelled out in katakana as would usually be done,
"Contra" is spelled out in ateji, which are kanji chosen for their
sound and not necessarily their meaning. These particular ones
are "soul", "dipper" (or "battle"), and "silk" (or "ancient Rome").

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-001.png セイレキ 2631ネン

ニュージーランドオキ ガルガショトウ 二
ナゾノ インセキ ガ ラッカシタ

In 2631AD,

a mysterious meteorite fell down in the Galuga Archipelago
off the coast of New Zealand.

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-002.png ソレカラ 2ネンゴ

ジンルイメツボウ ヲ タクラム
”レッド ファルコン” ト ナノル
ナゾノ シンリャクシャガ
ガルガショトウ ヲ
ゼンセンキチ ニ シテイルコト ガ

Two years later,

it was discovered that the mysterious invader
calling itself "Red Falcon",
which is plotting the destruction of mankind,
is using the
Galuga Archipelago as a
frontline base.

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-003.png チキュウ カイヘイタイ シレイブ ハ

カイヘイタイ ショゾク ノ ”コントラ”
「ビル」 ト 「ランス」 ニ
キチ ハカイ ノ メイレイ ヲ クダシタ

Earth Marine Corps HQ

gave Marine contras
Bill and Lance
the order to destroy the base.

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-004.png "ポイントA" ニ



I have arrived

at Point A.

I will now

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-005.png ”ガルマキルマ” ヲ


ツギノ モクテキチ
”ポイントB” ヘ

I have destroyed

Galma Kilma.

to my next destination,
Point B.

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-006.png ”ポイントB” ニ


センニュウ ヲ

I have arrived

at Point B.

I will now

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-007.png ”ゴドムガー” ヲ


テキノ ホンキョチ
”ポイントC” ヲ

I have destroyed


I will now
aim for
the enemy's stronghold,
Point C.

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-008.png ”ポイントC” ニ


ツウシン フカノウ

テキノ ホンキョチ
ハカイ ニ
ゼンリョク ヲ ツクス

I have arrived

at Point C.

Communication will be impossible
beyond this point.

I will do my utmost
to destroy
the enemy's stronghold.

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-009.png キチノ ナイブノ



The base interior

system is

I have to hurry...

Contra-NES-JP-Cutscene-010.png ドウヤラ ココガ

ホンキョチ ノ ヨウダ

テキハ イッタイ

This appears

to be the stronghold.

Just what IS
the enemy...?

2 Players Cutscenes


If Player 1 gets a Game Over in 2 Player Mode (or if Player 2 has a higher score), the cut-scenes will feature Lance instead of Bill. The dialogue is otherwise identical.

Ending Cutscene


The Famicom version features an extended scene in the ending where the player character(s) can be seen entering the helicopter. Additionally, the number of flags on the side of the helicopter increases with each consecutive playthrough, for a maximum of 6 flags.

Staff Roll

The final cut-scene and the staff roll are letterboxed in the Famicom version, likely to imitate a movie-like aspect ratio. This effect is not present in the NES versions.

Contra US staff roll.png

Instead, the NES versions feature a congratulatory message prior to the staff roll, which also makes the formatting of the staff roll a bit more condensed.

Famicom NES
Contra JP staff roll.png Contra US staff roll2.png

The Famicom version features a Konami logo after the staff roll, while the NES versions just has "presented by Konami" written in plain text.

Secret Ending Message

After beating the game, on the island explosion animation just before the staff roll, press and hold Start + Select on controller 1 and keep holding it. Before the game should return to the map to start a game from the beginning, you'll instead see a secret message from the game's antagonists.

Screenshot Japanese Translation
Contra (NES)-jpsecretmess.png オロカナチキュウジンヨ

コレデ"レッド ファルコン"ガ
ゼンメツシタトデモ オモッテイルノカ
チキュウゼンセンキチハ ウシナッタガ
スデニ ツギノテハ ウッテアル

ワガ"レッド ファルコン"ハ
エイエンニ フメツナルゾ .....

Foolish earthlings.

You actually thought THIS
annihilated Red Falcon?
While we lost our earth frontline base,
we are already making our next move.

Red Falcon
will be eternally immortal.....

Level Animations

The Famicom version has a number of background animations not featured on the NES versions.

Famicom NES
ContraNESJPNLevel1.gif ContraNESUSALevel1.png

In the jungle stage, the rock formation patterns are much different and the palm trees sway in the wind.

Base 1
Famicom NES
ContraNESJPNLevel2.gif ContraNESUSALevel2.gif

The flashing light panel on the boss uses a more elaborate animation in the Famicom version.

Famicom NES
Contra-(J)WaterfallAnim.png Contra-(U)WaterfallAnim.png

The waterfall stage in the NES versions is also animated, but using a simpler method (color palette cycling). The palette itself is different as well. Additionally, the rock formation patterns are slightly different.

Famicom NES
Contra-(J)WaterfallBoss.png Contra-(U)WaterfallBoss.png

For some reason the boss' arms are lower by one pixel in the North American version. In addition, graphics below the right arm seems to have been erased by accident.

Famicom NES
ContraNESJPNLevel5.gif ContraNESUSALevel5.png

The snow level has an animated snowstorm that makes the level much more difficult since the snow particles can make seeing other, harmful, projectiles harder to see. Additionally, the trees in the background are animated as if their branches are blowing in the wind.

Alien's Lair
Famicom NES
Contra-(J)AlienLairAnim.png Contra-(U)AlienLairAnim.png

The alien lair is animated, giving everything a pulsating, organic feel, and the animation speeds up as the level progresses and with the more damage you inflict on the final boss.

Famicom NES
Contra-(J)FinalBoss.png Contra-(U)FinalBoss.png

In the area where you meet the final boss, the NES versions feature broken eggs instead of organic matter, which is actually closer to how it appears in the original arcade game. Strangely, the sprites for the bottom two facehugger eggs have slightly more shading on their top left, and what seems to be two incorrectly colored pixels in their opened state. The top eggs haven't been updated accordingly.

Other Differences

  • The Famicom version starts off at a higher difficulty than its NES counterparts. The starting loop’s difficulty is the same as the second loop’s difficulty from the NES versions.
  • On the Snowfield stage, the tank mini-bosses rush the player the first time they change color, as opposed to the NES counterparts, where they rush the player after a fixed amount of time.
  • 2 Player Mode features some differences from 1 Player Mode. In the Jungle stage, the red sniper prior to the first Spread Gun powerup is in a slightly different position. In the Snowfield stage, the grenades thrown from the background are also at a slightly different position.
  • When you pause the game in the NES version, the moving background objects stop (waterfalls, targets, etc.), but in the Famicom version, they keep moving.
  • The Famicom version has a unique jingle that plays after completing the final stage (the same jingle is also played in the end of the original arcade game). The NES version uses the standard stage clear jingle instead.
  • The screen transition effect after defeating the final boss is a fade-out effect; in the overseas counterparts, it is a more elaborate “blinds” effect.
(Source: [1])
Famicom NES
Contra Bill Base Death JP.png Contra Lance Base Death JP.png Contra Bill Base Death US.png Contra Lance Base Death US.png

The Japanese version of Bill and Lance's death sprite in the base stage has an extra transparent color on the pants.


Level Select

Putting the spelling of "hangar" aside, the Famicom version features a relatively polished level select screen. It can be accessed from the title screen: select player number by pressing Select as usual, then press Start, but before the screen fades out, hold Up + Left + A + Select—the level select should appear and all buttons and directions can now be released.

Sound Test

Also of note is that there is a sound test only available in the Famicom version, similar to the sound test later featured in Super C and Gradius II. At the title screen while pressing A + B, press Start to enter a sound test. Press Up and Down to select a sound, B to start the sound, A to stop the sound, and Start to exit.

European Differences

To do:
List all differences, rip graphics.

The European version featured many graphical differences due to very strict censorship laws regarding blood and violence in Germany.

Bill from Contra RD008 from Probotector
ContraBillSmall.png ProbotectorRD008Small.png
Lance from Contra RC011 from Probotector
ContraLanceSmall.png ProbotectorRC011Small.png

The two human protagonists, Bill and Lance, were replaced with robotic counterparts named "RD008" and "RC011" respectively. Their palettes were also changed, with the Player 1 character being recolored from blue to gray and the Player 2 character being changed from red to blue.

Contra Probotector
ContraEnemy1.png ProbotectorEnemy1.png
ContraEnemy2.png ProbotectorEnemy2.png



Four enemies were changed to robots in sidescrolling stages.

Contra Probotector
ContraEnemy3.png ProbotectorEnemy3.png
ContraEnemy4.png ProbotectorEnemy4.png
ContraEnemy5.png ProbotectorEnemy5.png

Three enemies were changed to robots in tunnel stages.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Lv6Boss.png Contra NES EU Lv6Boss.png

The boss at the end of stage 6 was changed to look more robotic. The disks it fires have also been changed from blue to grey.

Contra Probotector
Contra-EndingHeli.png Probotector-EndingJet.png

During the ending a futuristic jet picks up the heroes, instead of a helicopter.

There are also a few palette changes:

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Bullets.png Contra NES EU Bullets.png

Enemy bullets are slightly red instead of white.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Lv2Boss.png Contra NES EU Lv2Boss.png

The dark blue palette of the Stage 2 boss was changed to teal, and its shots are red instead of blue.

Contra Probotector
Contra-(J)WaterfallBoss.png Probotector-WaterfallBoss.png

The Stage 3 boss's arms are red and blue instead of grey and red.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Lv4Boss.png Contra NES EU Lv4Boss.png

The Stage 4 boss and its shots uses a darker palette in Probotector. This causes the teal parts of the shots to blend in with the background.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Bombs.png Contra NES EU Bombs.png

The bombs in Stage 5 are grey instead of blue.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Carts.png Contra NES EU Carts.png

Carts in Stage 7 have black wheels instead of blue.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Lv8 Preboss.png Probotector NES US Lv8 Preboss.png

The wall in front of the pre-boss on Stage 8 uses slightly different tiles.

Contra Probotector
Contra NES US Pods.png Contra NES EU Pods.png

The weapon pods in the final stage are pink.

Contra Probotector
Contra US staff roll.png Probotector-Font.png

The exclamation point in the congratulatory message was removed due to the updated font set lacking one.


The Famicom version features a couple extra tracks that don't appear in the international NES version.

Start Demo

This track, labeled "DEMO" in the sound test, plays during the intro of the Famicom version. Since the intro was removed from the NES version, as a result this track only appears in the Famicom version.


Triumphal Return

Two versions of the track "Triumphal Return" are used in the Famicom version. The first version ("PCLR" in the sound test, or "Pattern Clear") plays when a stage is cleared or a boss is beaten. The second version (labeled "ALL PCLR" in the sound test, short for "All Pattern Clear") plays when the final boss is beaten.

The second version only appears in the Famicom version; the NES version only plays the standard stage clear theme, even after the final boss is beaten. The music itself would not be heard in the International versions until Operation C.

All Pattern Clear
Famicom NES