Retro Coin Op Synopsis

The machine-gun and headband machismo of Rambo, the creepy extra-terrestrials of Aliens, and the name of a right-wing guerrilla group in Nicaragua… Contra had them all. It was the ultimate adolescent male fantasy—one man (or for another quarter, two) against the armies of an alien dictator bent on world domination—and you controlled that man.

According to the game’s story, an alien named Red Falcon had crash-landed on a small South American island in the mid-50’s, and by the mid-80’s he was ready to unleash his fiendish plot to take over the world. The government sent two special agents— Lance (a.k.a. Scorpion) and Bill (a.k.a. Mad Dog)—to infiltrate the Falcon’s lair and eliminate the threat.

Scorpion and Mad Dog were clearly the right men for the job. They never got tired, they could jump like nobody’s business, and their weapons fired in eight directions (but sorry, not at the same time). What’s more, if they scored a bonus weapon, they could replace their single-shot guns with a rapid-fire machine gun, a flamethrower, a powerful laser, or a “spread gun” that fired five bullets at once. Also occasionally available were temporary invincibility shields, which the macho men grudgingly accepted.

The guns came in handy against the seemingly unlimited bad guys at the Red Falcon’s disposal. The game proceeded through several stages, taking Mad Dog and Scorpion across a jungle landscape and into the heart of the Falcon’s hideout. Most stages were familiar side-scrolling platform levels, but certain stages put our heroes into an over-the-shoulder first-person perspective challenge, trying to shoot out door locks and electric field generators to wind their way through the catacombs. Not surprisingly, enemy bosses awaited at the end of each level, ranging from a well-armed entrance to the wicked-looking Falcon himself.

Contra’s gung-ho attitude, big firepower and two-player cooperative gaming scored with players, who made the title a hit both in the arcade and in the various home versions. An arcade sequel, Super Contra, followed in 1988, and several more variations appeared in later years for the NES, Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis and other home systems. You see, old soldiers never really die, they just get better graphics.

Arcade Machine Release History

1987 - Contra
1988 - Super Contra

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