Sunday, December 25, 2016

Contra Force (NES, 1992)

 This game is a spinoff of the main series, and it tries some new gameplay elements. Unfortunately, it's a victim of "NES games that came along during the SNES era" syndrome, and isn't very good.


While most Contra games give you a choice of Bad Dude 1 or Bad Dude 2, each with equivalent abilities, this game has four playable characters. Each one has a different selection of weapons, as indicated by this screen. Doesn't matter too much who you choose here, since you can switch characters on the fly as you go.

I go with Smith, because he has the biggest guns.

"Compensating for something, Jer?"

Yeah, for sure. I'm compensating for my micro-penis.

"You said it, not me."

Touche. Wait, why am I having this discussion with myself?

 The game begins! Look at Smith's character portrait down there. It's hilarious. He's all "I'MMA WILD MAN!"

Pressing start brings up a menu where you can reassign your character. You can also assign a character to the second controller... or the CPU. It gives you something like six options for the CPU's AI, like "cover rear", "cover front", "advance" and so forth. Seems like overkill, but this game was clearly trying to be all badass and military-like.

 Here's Burns. He's clearly the "main character" of the game. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll be sticking with Smith and his homing missiles of doom.

 Iron. He's got a shoulder-mounted cannon. I think that "Baby" by Little Richie should be playing here because these guys were clearly inspired by the ridiculously manly crew from Predator.

Wait a minute... I can make that happen!

::plays a saxophone in the background::

Here's Beans. I'm guessing these are code names, and this guy earned his name because he was always passing gas on the helicopter.

Here's a better look at these guys. Poor Bean is way in the background. Look at how x-treme this artwork is, though. It's like they cranked up the badass level.

I thought this forklift was the first boss. Luckily, it isn't. I'm just gonna put out there that this game is very different from the usual Contra fare. No Xenomorphs here, no otherworldy stuff. It's all just straightforward Us vs. Terrorists.

Actually, this isn't even a real Contra. It started out in Japan as an entirely new property, but Konami renamed it for the American release to sell more copies. Doki Doki Contra? Well, that explains a lot, because it isn't very good.

 For starters, the difficulty is outright ridiculous at times. See those four compression plates? They all drop in weird intervals. There's no particular pattern to it, no surefire path to get through. The last one moves super slowly, which can trap you while you're waiting for it with the third one about to fall on you.

Even with infinite continues, there are sections like this one that are virtually impossible to pass without losing a life. Also... this screenshot is from about halfway through the first level.

 Another problem with this game: It doesn't give you much room to see what's ahead. Way too often you're pressed against the side of the screen as you advance, unable to see or plan for what's on the way.

 Is that Lower Manhattan in the background? Kinda looks like it pre-2001. Does that mean we're in Jersey City? Explains the ruins.

 Another really frustrating part... we're still on level one here. There are pits you have to jump over, but crates constantly fall from above that can insta-kill you. So basically, you have to jump the pit WHILE firing directly upwards to take out the falling crate. What the frick?

The first boss, like all of the bosses in this game, is a terrorist in a cowboy hat. That or it's Ted Nugent. "Keep your government hands off my health care!" he says while making millions of dollars.

 "Expecting me, were you?"

Get outta here, Xenomorph! You show up in enough games!

 Between stages, we get weird, nonsensical dialogue sessions as our heroes talk about head honchoes while rocking rad to the max sunglasses. Much like The Power Glove, it's so bad.

 The bad guys jump into the cutscenes. How'd they get our codec frequency? GET OUT OF MY SCENE! YOU'RE AN AMATEUR!

 This stage is vertical-scrolling, as is tradition. Smith is no less ecstatic.

 There are a lot of grounded fighter planes in this level. Reminds me of Top Gun.

I infiltrate a submarine. Forget the Xenomorph, this game is so military that they play footage of it at the Superbowl during wartime.

The next boss, like everyone in this game, has wild facial expressions.

 I find a safe spot and blast away. The bosses in this game have MASSIVE amounts of HP, though. It's really annoying. Even in this safe spot, pummeling him nonstop, it took like an entire minute and a half to take him down. It's just annoying.

 The hell? Did his pants just fall down? This is some sexual harassment, and I don't have to take it.

 The next level has what appears to be the Boston financial district in the background. It's like Last of Us all over again.The State Street Tower and One Financial are in the middle, with the Custom House clock tower off to the right.

One Financial Center: Boston's ugliest building appears in all the games.

In the third level I make liberal use of the Space Jump. It seems that if you press start while jumping and press start again while holding A, it makes you jump again. You can do this repeatedly to ascend through a whole level. And I did.

 "YEAH BABEE! STAY HYPED!" says Smith while the moon looks on.

 More bad scrolling. I can't see what's in front of me!

 Stage 3 boss is this plane. It isn't difficult once you figure out that the far left is a safe spot.

 It takes FOREVER to take down, though. I was blasting this thing for minutes on end with no repercussions before it finally went down. Seriously.

 A chopper flies in to pick up our heroes. GET TO THE CHOPPA!

 Some terrorist douchebag interrupts our codec coversation. We really need to get better security on this codec thing.

 The fourth level is the longest and most frustrating in the game. It transpires on a bunch of flying aircraft, and you're constantly being pushed to the right towards whatever pit lurks there.

Sometimes you have to jump from one plane to another, and only have a second to do so. In short, it sucks.

 Next boss... another Terror-Cowboy. Luckily for Smith, this guy can't fire diagonally. HAWR HAWR HAWR.

 Oh no! Not the... not the leader of the plan!

 I give this game props for one thing. The fifth stage opens with a bunch of windows shattering as the final boss makes his first appearance, and it's kickass.

 After a super-short fifth stage, it's time to lock horns with the big bad. Unfortunately for me, I spent a lot of time blasting the helicopter overhead before I realized that the damn thing is unkillable.

 Homing Missiles may be rockin', but they barely do any damage.

 The key to victory here is to summon your compatriots as CPU-controlled pets and let them wail on the boss while you hide in the corner.

 VICTORY! ...well, the CPU won for me while I hid. Whatever.

 Your reward for winning? A text wall. The guy we've been trying to rescue is still missing, and there's a suspicious figure lurking around who is devoted to fighting or something and also Burns has a destiny.

The ending freeze-frame makes it look like the four heroes are preparing for a dance-off.

 "Ohhh yeahhhh."


  1. This game... is not impressive.

  2. Iron and Beans are great names, but what if a dude was named Iron Beans?
    To be honest, I liked the facelessness of the guys in the past games more than the outspoken badassery of this crew, but that's just me.
    I was so confused by all the changes and mediocrity, but then you explained to me that it's not a real Contra and it all made sense. Don't risk the name with stuff like this, Past Konami!