October 22, 2008 - A poem: "We're men. Manly men. Men who assert our manliness by hunting and killing things. Men who stink from the heat. Men who like to kill. We're the men of Contra. Our testosterone-laden spit burns into the ground like acid. Our massive balls drag on the ground behind us. Our muscles ripple with manly might. We're men. Men with lots of guns. Hell yeah."
Honestly, what better way to express your inherent masculinity than to kill stuff? Contra features sweaty, muscular dudes - with bulging biceps and big guns - running around in an alien-infested jungle doing what guys do best: making things go boom. There's absolutely nothing out of the ordinary going on here. Nothing at all. Not even remotely. Nope.
No matter how ripped Bill Rizer and his partner Lance Bean may appear, both seem prone to instantly dropping dead from the touch of something even as inconsequential as a mosquito bite. As a result, it turns out two heads are better than one. Three lives was nowhere near enough for anyone to battle their way to the final Red Falcon boss - a gross, meaty heart protected by pods spewing head-hugging alien crawlies. With the help of the Konami code and a pal, such goals were far easier attained.
The co-op aspect of Contra was one of its high points, but it also often inspired bickering amongst players. It was simply far too easy to accidentally kill your comrade by advancing too quickly, since enemies jumped out from both directions and the bottom portion of vertically scrolling levels became pits of instant death. In a cool twist, it was possible to come back from the dead by stealing one of the other player's lives.
Quick recap: Contra is all about men in the jungle. And aliens. And guns. Can you dig it?
CCC Staff Contributor / Pixel Artist