All things Contra (Gryzor/Probotector)

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JaySevenZero
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All things Contra (Gryzor/Probotector)

Post by JaySevenZero » December 24th, 2016, 10:17 am

Here is where you can leave your thoughts regarding the Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Hypnocrite
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Re: Our next podcast recording (22.1.17): Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) and Super Contra

Post by Hypnocrite » January 19th, 2017, 6:23 pm

I actually didn't like Contra the first time I played it. I heard its reputation around the schoolyard so when I saw it for rent I knew it was "good", but something about it didn't click when I got it home. I actually convinced my parents to return to the rental shop and exchange it for a different game entirely; I couldn't imagine spending the whole weekend with this weird jungle game.

Some unknown time later I of course tried it again and liked it. I played Super C at a friends house as well, ensuring I was a lifelong fan who would move on to Contra III, Shattered Soldier, etc. Of course those games never quite matched the classic entries, despite the increased graphical spectacle.

Once I got to Konami and began work on Contra 4, I had an excuse to really dissect Contra and Super C and learn what made them tick. All the little tricks that people might not notice - background changing to black for each boss, allowing more tiles to be used for detailed alien monstrocities, and so on. They all show how genius NES-era Konami was, managing to get this level of arcade performance out of the humble little machine. The original Contra (and to a lesser extent its sequel) is simply unmatched in the genre. Other series come close, but Metal Slug will never overtake the joy of nabbing that Spread Shot and mowing down every enemy in the level until you make one tiny misstep...

It's a shame the original is banned from Virtual Console and NES Mini. It deserves to be played with a proper controller--how else are we to break them in?

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Re: Our next podcast recording (22.1.17): Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) and Super Contra

Post by Joshihatsumitsu » January 19th, 2017, 8:59 pm

Disclaimer: I have not actually finished any of these titles, so feel free to ignore.

My NES Mini gave me the first opportunity to play Super C, and from the limited time I've played it I've enjoyed it! It certainly has a sense of humour, because I'll think I'm being clever by jumping over some enemy bullets and readying myself up for some killing, only to land and get knocked on my ass from an enemy running in from the left. Kinda makes me laugh.

But my actual first experience is with Probotector on my Gameboy. I remember in gaming magazines being made aware that this was basically Contra, but with robots replacing humans, as robots are still a minority group who can't vote on such profoundly sensitive issues! Still, very cool box art, may have contributed to its appeal.

Again, didn't finish it, but the one hit kills and unforgiving nature of the gameplay translated well to the handheld, and I enjoyed it. It was difficult but somewhat fair, and I just didn't have the skill then, or now really. But when you were playing well and powering up your gun and everything clicked it made for a rewarding experience. And that heartbreaking moment when you die and realise that you're back to the very weak standard gun... ugh!

It was certainly a series, especially with those first two titles, that still had that arcade design to it, in that you were encouraged to keep putting your coins into the machine. And on the home consoles it was pretty much the same, except you've already paid upfront for the experience.

As a recommendation, I'd say go for it, mainly because they are not particularly expensive games anyway. And they are pretty widely available on many platforms.

(Edit: must remember to try the Konami code on both the Gameboy version and Super C on the Mini... I remember certain cheats for the Gameboy version, which may have contributed to my positive memories of it. But the true test for the NES Mini will be that code!)

(Edit update: while the Konami code didn't work, Right, Left, Down, Up, A, B, then Start on the controller did start me with ten lives... so bravo Nintendo! When the old codes still work, then that is some good emulation.)

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Craig
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Re: Our next podcast recording (22.1.17): Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) and Super Contra

Post by Craig » January 20th, 2017, 11:29 am

Coming from England, my memories are of Probotector and I vividly remember my brother having an A3 poster of the amazing box art from TOTAL magazine on his wall. Later I'd find out about the original name and characters, but they never seemed as cool to me. And really, if Aliens were to try and take over the world, who would you send? Two, soft and fleshy meatbags with families, or sleek awesome robots?

When I was young, my brother had a friend which meant, as a little brother, when they played together I tagged along too. This friend was a massive liar. We all knew someone like that growing up boasting of uncles with endlessly interesting CVs. But this guy wasn't just a fantasist looking for attention, he was also a mean liar. He wouldn't only lie to boost himself up, but to belittle and deceive.

This friend so happened to have Probotector (which of course he claimed he could finish easily without the Konami code) so most of my memories are playing together round his house. I remember the spectacle, the bright graphics and cool weapons, but never really being any good at it.

People often use this game as an example of a great game to play with your friends, which is as true as saying Monopoly is a great activity to bring your family together. It's a game that actually becomes more difficult with two players with many accidental deaths coming from accidentally (or not) jumping too quickly on the vertical section. This combined with quarrels over weapons and the ability to donate a life to your friend often deteriorating into your friend stealing lives, Probotector can ruin friendships just as quickly as the infamous property board game, but at stunningly effecient speed.

Playing with this friend was infuriating. Every weapon he'd take. He'd take a life at every opportunity (despite having apparently beaten it by himself without the extra lives code.) Every vertical section he'd rush through with little to no regard to whether that meant certain death for his gunning partner. What made it worse was his half hearted attempts at lies to cover his actions. "Oh sorry, my finger slipped," "oh I thought it was my turn to get the gun," "What? No I didn't steal a life, I don't need them."

I still enjoyed it, but even as a naive young boy dealing with a "cool" kid two years my senior, I could still see through his lies. What a swine.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (22.1.17): Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) and Super Contra

Post by DomsBeard » January 21st, 2017, 10:32 am

Only ever played these on my own.

I remember playing the NES and SNES Probotectors vaguely, mainly due to them being far too difficult so I couldn't get too far in? (could be wrong)

The Megadrive Probotector was one of my favourite Megadrive games. Being able to choose different characters in a shooter was fairly new back then and it had great bosses and a great soundtrack. Is this available anywhere now?


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Re: Our next podcast recording (22.1.17): Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) and Super Contra

Post by BlueWeaselBreath » January 22nd, 2017, 4:10 am

Those of us of a certain age are old enough to have played the original Contra games shortly after they came out, but young enough where, to this day, the term "Iran-Contra" brings up images of this game rather than of Ronald Reagan and Oliver North. I spent so many hours on the Contra games that they're an inextricable part of my childhood, and part of me cannot shake the absurd notion that the arms sold by the Reagan administration to Iran in the 80s consisted entirely of spread guns with fat red bullets and flamethrowers that sent a single tiny spark corkscrewing ineffectually across the battlefield. The Iran military, naturally, took the spread guns and left the flamethrowers in the bottom of the crate, unused.

My friend brought over the original game when we were in about the third grade, and we played it on my NES. I was likely baffled by the difficulty at first but soon got to where I could easily beat the second level without any sweat. I thought the first boss, the gate, was badass, although I felt its cheery-looking red spherical bullets undercut its menace somewhat. I remember being blown away by the perspective change in the even-numbered levels -- it felt like I was playing an arcade game (I didn't know at the time that Contra originated in the arcades), having that over the shoulder view, and it was as close to 3D gaming as I'd ever seen on the NES. Shooting those glowing jewel-like consoles was satisfying as hell, and it still makes me nostalgic when I watch the footage of those levels on YouTube.

Before I'd ever completed Contra, I bought Super Contra at the mall, presuming it was a sequel from the screenshots, but I remember having a moment of doubt after purchasing it but before getting home, because in the States, it was called Super C, I.e., it didn't have the word Contra in the title. For a moment, i was afraid I'd bought a game from the wrong franchise. Eventually, I decided the "C" logo was the same as that of the original Contra, which put my mind at ease, and the gameplay completely reassured me that it was a sequel. I dug the overhead gameplay of the sequel, which reminded me of Ikari Warriors -- I game I had played, enjoyed, and completely sucked at. I sucked at Contra too, come to think of it. Even the Konami code didn't help me enough. I can't be sure, but I'm almost certain that I didn't beat either game until I used the Game Genie to give me infinite lives. Contra is unbelievably tough. When I went back to play Super C a few months back before selling my NES and games, I couldn't get more than 60 seconds into the first level!

When I think of Contra, I think of the Gigeresque design of the alien enemies and levels, which is why I was surprised, upon watching footage of the first game after two decades of having not played it, that most of the bosses are machines, not giant, gross aliens. The waterfall boss and the final level are obvious exceptions, especially the red Xenomorph head that shoots fetal crayfish from his mouth. Super C has more of the biomechanical enemies and locales I had in mind, and they start about 2/3 of the way though the game.

One of the things that sticks with me most about the gameplay of Contra is, oddly, the funny little chirping sound it makes when your bullets hit a tough target and cause damage. Presumably this sound was meant to simulate the chink of bullets hitting metal -- at least it sounds that way to me -- even though it makes the same sound when you hit alien flesh. For whatever reason, I found this sound very satisfying as a piece of feedback, and it definitely contributed to the fun feel of the game for me.

As I alluded to earlier, one almost infamous feature of the game, especially the original, is the stunning imbalance in weapon efficacy. Everyone who played Contra knows that the spread gun rules all, while the flame gun in the first game is ludicrously, pathetically, comically inadequate for the task at hand. It was mercifully redesigned into a somewhat better weapon for the second game. The laser gun could have been a good idea, with its focused, powerful beam, but it didn't work so well in practice, since several fast spread gun shots could more than match its damage, and the beam would start over if you tried to fire it rapidly, resulting in a bizarre short-range weapon if you didn't realize what was going on. It was also an entirely unconvincing representation of a laser, so it looked like you were running through the jungle spraying a fire hose. Having one obviously superior weapon works in a game like Doom when you find all the other weapons first and eventually come across the BFG-9000 as a reward; but in Contra, with the regular powerups flying in, the implication is that you're supposed to choose whichever weapon best suits your play style or the current situation. Instead, the spread gun ends up being always the best gun, for every player, and the lesser gun powerups end up being another obstacle to avoid, like the poison mushrooms in Super Mario Lost Levels, lest you end up having to say, as we often did as kids, "Crap, I lost my spread gun, now I have the water pistol!"

Overall, the Contra games represent one of the quintessential NES run n' gun experiences, and remain extremely fun, as well as obscenely, brutally tough.

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Re: Our next podcast recording (22.1.17): Contra (Gryzor/Probotector) and Super Contra

Post by Stanshall » January 22nd, 2017, 1:04 pm

Nothing to add about this game but really enjoyed that post, some very funny little bits in there.

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