Welcome back Satellite subscribers! Time to get your Hero on as today we jump into the center of an Alien invasion! The Alien hordes of the notorious Red Falcon have taken over an island in South America! Fortunately we have the called in the best two damn commandos the word has ever seen..Bill “Mad Dog” Rizer and Lance “Scorpion” Bean. Time to lock em down!! Aboard the Satellite Heli shuttle we have no time to waste..we have to stop the Red Falcon before they take over the world!
Begin Transmission: March 19 2014
Of course..if you are not a retro gamer and havent figured it out yet..we are talking about the 1987 NES Video game Contra..It was 1980 something and in a sea of wrapping paper I was nowhere to be found as I was frantically hooking up my brand new NES Entertainment system to my sweet 13 inch color TV in my bedroom! That morning I was bestowed , Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, NES Pro Wrestling, Super Mario Bros (Free with system!) and of course..CONTRA!! Only a couple of months earlier after creating my Xmas wish list I had noticed this game on the locked display cabinets of our local Woolco store. The case itself spoke to me and t was no trouble to see why. First a bit of context.
The 1980s were a time of an action movie explosion. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was on top of the world with huge hits such as Terminator and Running man. Predator would become yet another huge win for Arnold and would directly influence many sci-fi movies afterwards. The over the top Austrian known for his witty one liners such as “Ill be back” was the king of Hollywood and would remain as such well into the 90s as well.Arnold would become the inspiration for the Player one character in Contra..Bill “Mad Dog” Rizer. Hot on his heels would be another character would be making waves on the same fast track as Arnold…a guy named Stallone!
Sylvester Stallone, better know in the 1980s as Rocky Balboa of the Rocky movie film franchise struck pay dirt again with the character of John Rambo in the movie series First Blood! Like Arnold, Stallone was the ultimate commando fearless and unstoppable, Rambo was a high school boys idol. Hell every kid I knew had a Rambo “Survival Knife” strapped to their side for play. No parent in their right mind would intentionally hand a 13-year-old a hunting knife and tell them to go play! Bottom Line Rambo was hot and was the inspiration for the second player in the game we are discussing....Lance “Scorpion” Bean.
The game itself was VERY challenging. As you ran through the jungles of South America, through highly secure military compounds, though Waterfalls, ad finally directly into the heart of the Aliens lair doing so in the 3 men you were allotted was no fun. In fact…discouraging. This game sat on the “Last In Line” pile as I spent the early months of my NES gaming experience defeating Koopas in Super Marion Bros, Knocking Out Mike Tyson’s ass in Punch Out and proudly defeating Great Puma to with the VWA world title in NES Pro Wrestling. So with all the other conquered games laying in my wake one of my friends who did not have the luxury of an NES system decided we should tag team Contra. Surely our forces combined would whip this game in no time fast. Sadly the answer was no..the Red Falcons hordes were too much for Bill and Lance..that is until we got an advantage..
Nintendo Power magazine came on the fore front of many gamers libraries. Debuting in 1988 Nintendo Power was the premier and longest running video game magazine ever published lasting an extraordinary 24 years! It contained Reviews, teasers, comics, coupons, extras like stickers, posters, but most importantly..cheat codes!!
Yes the Konami Code as it would become know to gamers for then till today became an instant hit with Contra fans. First used in the game Gradius but popularized by Contra the pushing of the directional keys UP, UP, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left Right, B, A, Start at the title screen would unlock what Nintendo Power called the “Extra Life Command” and it was awesome! Soon after I learned how to execute the Konami Code Contra was done for. Many evenings after school myself and my good friend John Mckechnie (Where are you bro?) would begin our termination of the Contra Alien races. It was incredible! Level by level we whipped major 8 bit ass and the NES became a destination daily for us. Bill and Lance finally had the revenge we were looking for.
Contra the game was a simple run and shoot type of game. It was a classic 8 bit side scroller filled with challenging stages and enemies.!
Contra featured some of the best looking super bads in the 8 Bit world of the NES. The Giant Leaping Disk Throwing Alien that guards the door to the energy zone is one of the best in gaming history!
The fun of the game came in using the extra weapons that you could pick up along the way! You start the game with a rifle but there are many more weapons that made your game much more enjoyable.
- Machine gun (rapid-fires repeatedly while the fire button is depressed)
- Laser gun (fires one lazer bolt of energy at a time) Sometimes letharigic but incredibly powerful
- Spreader (Spray) gun (fires five projectiles at once in an array that spreads apart as it travels away from the player) Best weapon in the game. Incredibly powerful and enjoyable to use!
- Fireball gun (fires spining fire ball bullets)
- Rapid fire (increases bullet velocity) This one can be added to a gun in use to make an existing gun faster. Deadly when combined with Spreader gun or Lazer!
- Barrier (temporary invincibility)
Contra, even in its years of retirement as I grew into adulthood would always be played in my house whether it was on my old long lamented NES, emulators or on my Wii Virtual console. My son’s and I (5, and 13 years of age) have spent a lot of time recently playing this game and its sequels and even to this day it remains a favorite in the house. In a sad story during my university years my vast amount of Nintendo cartridges went missing! I accidentally discovered my collection at a used flea market type shop and had to call the police. Only the games I could prove were mine were returned and several games like Contra were stolen from me like a thief in the night. BASTARDS!! I know who you are!! LOL..but I digress.
Hope you have enjoyed your tour of Red Falcon Island..it has been my pleasure to be your guide. But we just blew up the heart of the Red Falcon..back to the Heli – Shuttle …this baby’s gonna BLOW!!
If You have enjoyed this blog contact me on Twitter @Charlton_Hero and join the conversation using #SuperHeroSatellite Thanks for reading!