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Contra (NES)

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Title Screen

Contra

Also known as: Probotector (EU)
Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: NES
Released in JP: February 9, 1988
Released in US: February 1988
Released in EU: December 28, 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.


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

Regional Differences

Title Screen

Japan USA 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 U.S. 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 FC 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).

Map

FC 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 FC 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 FC version refers to each level as "area" instead of "stage" (which is the terminology later used in Super C and Operation C).

Story

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

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

熱い闘魂とゲリラ戦術の
素質を持つ、最強の闘士の
呼称である。

"Contra"

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
ハンメイシタ

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

トウチャクシタ

コレヨリ
センニュウヲ
カイシスル

I have arrived

at Point A.

I will now
commence
infiltration.

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

ハカイシタ

ツギノ モクテキチ
”ポイントB” ヘ
ムカウ

I have destroyed

Galma Kilma.

Proceeding
to my next destination,
Point B.

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

トウチャクシタ

コレヨリ
センニュウ ヲ
カイシスル

I have arrived

at Point B.

I will now
commence
infiltration.

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

ハカイシタ

コレヨリ
テキノ ホンキョチ
”ポイントC” ヲ
メザス

I have destroyed

Godomuga.

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

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

トウチャクシタ

コレヨリサキハ
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

ボウギョ
システムガ
サドウシテイル

イソガナケレバ…

The base interior

defense
system is
operating.

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
ナニモノダ…

This appears

to be the stronghold.

Just what IS
the enemy...?

2 Players Cutscenes

Contra-JP-Cutscene-004-Lance.png
Contra-JP-Cutscene-009-Lance.png

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

Contra-Heliflag.png

The FC 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 FC 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.

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

The FC 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 about "Red Falcon".

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

Hmmm...
To do:
Expand this section, add comparison screenshots from stage 1, 2 and 5

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

Jungle

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

Base 1

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

Waterfall
FC 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.

FC 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.

Snowfield

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
FC 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.

FC 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

Gameplay
  • The FC 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.
Audio/Visual
  • The FC 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])

Cheats

Level Select
Contra-FC-LevelSelect.png

Putting the spelling of "hangar" aside, the FC 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
Contra-JP-soundtest.png

Also of note is that there is a sound test only available in the FC 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

Hmmm...
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 palette 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
ContraEnemy6A.png

ContraEnemy6B.png
ProbotectorEnemy6A.png

ProbotectorEnemy6B.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 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.