Friday, December 23, 2016

Super C (NES, 1990)

This is the sequel to Contra, and for some reason they didn't call it Contra II. Not sure what the deal is there. Maybe they were trying to distance themselves from the word after the Iran-Contra scandal. One thing is for sure: Super C is even MORE Xenomorphy than its predecessor.

The intro shot has our hero rappelling from a helicopter in front of a pretty nice backdrop. This scene needs to have "Baby" by Little Richard playing.

The first stage consists of war-torn ruins. If this is what the future held, what was the point of saving the world in Contra? WHAT WAS THE POINT, DAMMIT?

The first stage has some rad music. Have a listen.

First boss... a chopper, but this one is an evil chopper. Get to da choppa, etc.

The second stage is vertical-ish, much like the first game. The player has a lot more maneuverability this time, at least. As I battle tanks, I realize that I have no idea what the plot is in these games. I know I'm battling the forces of Red Falcon, but... what is Red Falcon? Are the enemies all aliens? If so, why do they have helicopters and tanks and why do most of them look like people?

The laser makes a comeback in this game, and it still isn't very good. Maybe I'm just using it wrong, but I find the fire gun to be better and the spread gun to be FAR better.

Second boss. This mega-tank isn't too tough. Fun fight. I wonder if the guys on it are inspired by Vasquez and her bro from Aliens. See how they're wielding big Smartgun-esque weapons?

This game has a lot of enemies that fire low, which means ducking isn't the saving grace that it was in the first game. I wasn't prepared for this, and took quite a few deaths from low-firing enemies.

A shot of the fire gun. While the first game's version of the weapon sent out a small spinning fireball,  this version sends out a large fireball in a straight line that shatters on impact. It's pretty cool, and a definite improvement.

This miniboss is a refugee from a Terminator game. Interesting to note that you can stand on its head, but you aren't carried with it so you need to continually move to stay in position.

Win that tricky fight, and a section of collapsing floors immediately follows. "AIYEEEEeeeeee" says the goon in the back when reached for comment.

Yet another wall-boss. This one is a bit tricky. Overall, this game isn't quite as rough as the first in terms of level design, but it's more difficult to beat as a newbie since you're limited to 10 lives to finish a level instead of 30.

The spread gun is easily your best friend in this game, and makes a lot of sections vastly easier. You often need to take out a bunch of enemies at once, and the spread gun does that very effectively.

Here's an inventive boss. It fires lasers in a back-and-forth pattern across all of its gun turrets, and each one has its own amount of life. Needless to say, the spread gun completely mauls this thing, as it can hit most of the guns at once.

While first-gen NES games are pretty much straight lines in their stage layout, the games that came along a little later in time were able to have more wide-open areas. There was once a time when diagonal surfaces like this were still pretty novel.

The bosses become more alien as the game goes on. You go from battling helicopters and tanks to battling... whatever the hell this thing is. A big basket of skulls? This is the first of the menagerie of H.R. Giger-esque unsettling visuals in the later parts of this game.

Our hero wanders into what appears to be the orifice of a massive organic structure. Don't go in there!

This place is full of vagina dentata.

Things get increasingly twisted as you progress through this vertical-scrolling area. These cyclopean heads spin around your character but never seem to actually strike.

Here's the HALLWAY OF DEATH, with a nonstop barrage of enemies emerging from the walls. Without the spread gun, this is basically a vacuum for your lives.

Check out the Space Jockey heads on the wall there. Is this Alien: The Game?

While I'm at it with the movie references, this boss looks vaguely like the stretched fusion-head in The Thing. I don't know what the hell this is supposed to be, but Konami really went all-out with the disturbing imagery for this game. I'm impressed. I'm officially ready to rank this above the original game.

Victory! Is the game over yet? I legitimately have no idea when it'll end, as this is the first time I've played it.

...JESUS CHRIST! Kids get back in the car!

Victory over that vaguely Xenomorphy thing drops you into another side-scrolling level. The very environment here seems living and malevolent. This is some really great stuff for an NES game, and even the original Metroid wasn't this atmospheric.

Whoa, those look exactly like the eggs from Alien. If facehuggers spring out of them, I'll eat my hat.

WHAT THE SHIT? FACEHUGGERS!

OH GOD THEY'RE EVERYWHERE GET THEM OFF ME

What in the blue hell is this thing? Seriously, I have no idea what I'm looking at.

After another boss, I arrive in yet another level. Man, these levels are somehow managing to get creepier and creepier. The environments continue to be the most interesting thing about this game. Here, not only are the walls full of vaginas, they also have abundant Space Jockey faces.

Xenomorphy thing alert!

I may not know what the story of this series is, but I feel like this game in particular is almost Alien fanfiction of what would happen if the Space Jockeys invaded with their bio-weapons. In that sense, this game is like proto-Prometheus.

After some tricky hallways with an oppressive ceiling, I arrive at...

...the final boss. It's REALLY Space Jockey esque, but it's like someone's nightmare idea of one. There are Space Jockeys in the floor, too. Geez, it's amazing that Ridley Scott didn't sue Konami.

In any case, the final boss isn't too difficult. Red Falcon, the giant brain-thing at the end of the first game, was considerably worse of a fight.

Game over, man. Game over. So while Contra is a game with Xenomorph enemies, Super C has a Space Jockey as the enemy with his Xeno egg cargo as foes leading up to him. As someone who likes the first two Alien movies an awful lot, this game was awesome for me. This series is even more connected to Alien than the Metroid series is, and that's saying something. Wonder why we've never gotten any games this good that actually use the Alien license?

Not done with Contra just yet. Next I'll take a look at the Game Boy spinoff, Operation C, and then I'll be playing the ridiculously awesome Super NES debut of the series. Stay tuned.


And for more on this series...



3 comments:

  1. Nice reviews! Don't forget Contra Force for the NES.

    I really enjoyed Operation C a lot. I need to dig it out and give it another go.

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  2. The funny thing about them getting rid of the "Contra" part of the name is that when we were kids we sure as heck didn't care. But I suppose they were catering to those buying the games.

    I love hitting multiple targets at once in these games too.

    I didn't really like the "overhead" levels in this one, though I liked stages 2 and 4 in the first Contra just fine. Guess we're opposites there.

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  3. Sounds like politicians heard what this game was called, and it affected the naming. Too bad; must've depressed their sales.
    That is a beautiful sunset. I'd love to see that in real life, pixels and all.
    This Stage 1 theme IS great.
    It's cool that the game started firing low to hurt the frequent duckers.
    THIS PURPLE THO
    I have never seen a level this neon purple. You're right that these level designs are artistically brilliant, challenging, and spooky.
    The lovely feminine face on this final boss...man.
    Bringing you back to another sunset scene when you finish! That's cinema!
    Took another look at this to see all the neon colors in the late stages. I appreciated the creepy monsters in the last vertical stage, too.

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