Saturday, June 8, 2013

The FINISHER: War Journal.

How can you follow up an article about the Genre creating Ground shattering, Sweat provoking, Legendary CONTRA???

     Well can't........unless you play SUPER CONTRA !!! 

 Super Contra is the direct sequel to Contra on the Famicom, in N.America the game was know as Super C on the NES (its believed full title was dropped to avoid Iran-contra attention). The Arcade version was released in 1988 the same time the first Contra was released on the NES, the Famicom and NES versions of Super C came out later in 1990. The Arcade sequel ditched the 3d hallway stages in lieu of top down Commando style stages, it also introduced a weapon upgrading system and a "Big Shell" Weapon that when called would wipe out the entire screen. The home versions did not include these weapon changes but did see the return of the Barrier shield and Rapid Power -Ups that the arcade had dropped. The home games also included a fire weapon that could be charged and 3 Stages not in the Arcade as well as a few new Bosses to boot. 

I should also mention the Famicom version had the 30 lives "KONAMI CODE" intact and a Stage Select code, but the poor NES version had a meager 10 lives code which was not even performed like the Konami Code.

I never owned a NES copy of Super Contra as a kid, I had played the arcade game upon its release and it seemed intense (from the first board that i couldn't pass). When I was offered a chance to finally play the home version 2 years later at a friends house the desire to play it had subsided. When the cartridge fired up and I saw the color lacking, grey un-lush background of the first level it paled in comparison to the memories of first time I saw the original Contra on a TV. I never looked back after that day and left Super Contra sitting on the curb waiting....

If I had seen this commercial back then maybe I would have played it ...
Iphone may have to us this link if video doesnt appear click me

Twenty two years later.... while looking for a Copy of Contra to help start a strong Famicom collection I happened across a set from Thailand....yup you know what that means Arrrrr Pirates. The set consisted of Pirate copies of both Contra and Super Contra for 14 bucks. Still having no interest in the sequel but I just couldn't pass up a good deal, a Fair price for Contra plus a second game why the hell not? It was too good to be true, although the bright red copy of contra looked great it didn't work in my Famiclone ( fake NES or Famicom system). I held on to it knowing one day I might own a real Famicom and maybe it would work on it since not all games work on Clone systems (Nope). Ironically the copy of Super contra worked fine (baby jesus hates Contra pirates) I fired it up took one look at that grey background shut it off and quickly put it on the shelf.....until I finished last week's Contra 24 in1 review.
 My Contra and Super Contra Pirates

Over the years Ive heard from different groups on the topic of Super Contra, there are some like myself that loved the original so much and looked at the new game and judged it on visuals and never got into it. Others had moved on to other series or consoles. But there remains till this day a group or if you will a legion of gamers that love Super Contra even more than the original. I never understood these people...... UNTIL TODAY !

Still running off the energy of last weeks Contra high I popped Super Contra in the Famiclone at 11 O'Clock PM on a school-night, disregarding the fact I had work in 6 hours or that my eyes were already getting heavy I set out to play and beat a game I had only played less than 5 mins of 22 years ago. This week I would not be going for a time record I was simply going to attempt to beat the game and pause it every so often so I could jot down notes since I had never seen anything past the first screens. Ive only slightly edited the notes leaving in poor some grammar in hope to pass on the excitement of my experience. I took to calling this collection of notes.......

The Finisher : War Journal.

Heres just some of the pages

Stage One
Stage One holds a NEW visual style with familiar game play, I can see why some people where put off by this. But once embraced its simply amazing. Eerily illuminated flashing sky removes any thought I had of this game looking less polished than the original.

Wheeee !!

Sh*t I knew this was East New York...damn real estate agents
Stage One's Boss is a confidence builder much like in Contra. Its just a chopper with several guns that when destroyed expose a Power Core. The foot steps of Mad Dog catch my ear boasting improved sound chip as he runs off screen to the next threat.

"Shoot em in the Nards"   "choppa dont have Nards..."

Stage Two
Wow !! Okay this is fu*cking weird..But kool ! Its not the ground breaking 3D hallway, But it is a change-up much in the vain of it. This stage provides us with a top down view much like Commando or Ikari Warriors both of which I am a fan. Its very weird not to be able to "Contra Jump" insanely outta the way of danger or have some kinda roll. With out the ability to dodge your kept on your toes ....Lazer weapon still SUCKS and is extra useless on this type of level.

'cuse lost..

Is this metal gear ?

Stage Two's Boss resembles a Smash T.V. type tank, I write this knowing full well Contra predates Smash T.V. Apparently walking behind him to a blind spot and opening fire is quick way to dispose of this Boss.
Oh boys !

Stage Three
Stage Three has us return to a jungle setting reminding me of the setting where we first dove in to the Contra-verse. I just keep Running an Gunning through several types of snipers stashed in all kinds of cover and turrets that give way to large mortar cannons. I find aiming diagonally up to the right while running keeps me ready to snap my rifle level at any enemy as Mad Dog approaches the fallen oak tree that leads us across to the fortresses roof top. On the roof the screen stops scrolling leaving me to cringe thinking the spiked tank will return but instead a mechanical spider attacks. Surprisingly you can jump and land on its head taking a impromptu coffee break. once you destroy the spider-bot  get moving to the right even if the screen doesnt start to scroll because ... "ITS A TRAP"! Oh yes indeed kiddies the ground will start to fall right out from beneath your toes. So Fu*k the Power Ups, Fu*k the enemies just shoot and jump as soon as your keds touch the ground. As the screen re-adjusts........ Heres.....Johnny !
My Jungle love... oh wee oh wee oh

Stage Three's Boss a beefed up looking Super Terminal !!  But don't worry its defenses are quite lacking while its Power Core is left to defend for its own much like Eric Lundquist.

Behold !! New Dell Mini !!

Stage Four
Another new look ! Wow Super Contra has its sh*t together ! Im treated visually to a side scrolling techno heavy passage. Guarded by some kinda Bubble Machine ( yah you figure it out) this parts teamwork of bubble abundance and never ending supply of running soldiers play heavy on you in its cramped quarters. Shoot early and bulldozer your way through the area... but don't sigh in relief just yet.

While examining the circle embedded in the wall for possible threat, the ceiling dropped out on me. The next part leads us jumping up in similar fashion to the old waterfall stage but this time with a technological theme carrying through out. I get very nervous as "New" cannons fire 360 degrees from the background while updated Bird Men swoop in for the Kill. As we move fowar...I Mean UP, 2 Power-Ups distract me from noticing the ceiling is about to blow and give way to a massive screen wide construction lift .As the lift comes to a halt LARGE amounts of Bird Men chase after me like Im made of stale white bread. But luckily Contra games allow us to fire through platforms, its a series staple that always seems in our favor ..thanks KONAMI !!

Going Up ?
Thats all you got hah !

As I further ride this platform to the unknown I feel particularly lonely and I just want to pause the game a minute longer mention the fact that I really miss the days of going to someones house slamming the bedroom door to keep out siblings and submerging ourselves in CO-OP gaming. Doing this over the internet was FUN for a few years but in situations like this it is NOT the same as I travel on ALONE I am attacked by more Bubbles & Bird Men which with every encounter seem more dangerous. 
Seriously !?!  F U Harvey Birdman!
I see the end of the shaft way approach as the Lift gets ready to halt and iI get really nervous as I expect the foreboding black back drop to reveal a scary 4th Boss.... But instead a Giant Laser Shower comes sliding on screen and attempts to wash me away. My only tactic is to stand in one spot and make a hiding place to retreat to. I would like to mention that the foot step sounds I loved at the end of Stage One only add to my loneliness Mad Dog stomps off screen alone against a black screen. That was a long Stage... I need a Nap.

Soo lonely...

Stage Five
Five is a vertical climb board but using ramp like platforms and with very leap a wall turret spring out to life. And with-out fail I manage to continually jump to belly land each time ON A POP-UP CANNON ?!?! "Contra jumping" like mad I manage to correct my mistakes and survive past this part but no more than .5 seconds after i stop moving guess who back....thats right the Fu*king Harvey Bird Men!! But with new sprite animations. Escaping the Bird Men/Solider madness I am attacked by Purple Boulders rolling down hills as if Donkey Kong was up high hurling them at me. Doing his best "Mario" Mad Dog manages to cross over to a new are that .. looks.. lie.. a Double High Train !?! All the usual assholes run after me as Im repeatedly expected to make drops of faith to unseen ground below where "ground hog" cannons pop up surprisingly bringing with them the end of winter.

Oops .. was that yours ?

Ill get yah you big ape !!

" Theres a floor, theres a floor here Montey !! "

Stage Fives Boss is a Predator 2 esque ship made outta skulls and such that flies back and forth dropping ...wait for it...Skulls with legs. Yah Weird & Creepy  !!

Boner !!

Stage Six
Oh My God Im tired...sorry. Finally we see the return of the top down style that i didn't love at first but desperately miss now after 4 stages of mystery and challenge. At first the stage seems to be made of bones and spikes but she the blue Crab/Ticks appear I feel like Rick Moranis shrunk me and the kids on his dogs back... and just as Im wondering if that joke is worth remembering Giant Teeth Packed Vaginas randomly start appearing underfoot at every step...every mans nightmare. I tired not to hover in shock long in the Vagina fields as I had a "big meeting" in the morning *Wink wink and also destroying them didn't seem to stop one from taking its place. The floor changes to blood red after short Run & Gun as the Boss of Stage Six shows its Four Faced Ugly Demon Head. As its sits on the back wall I quickly dispacth it with some fancy foot work and rapid fire and it explodes in to pecies as I release the controller from my aching tight grip and REJOICE !!........TOO SOON....

Abstinence, Abstinence, Abstinence !

Sweeet !!

Stage Six Boss... for real this time
What looks like an exit tunnel appears from the cleared smoke but the screen begins to shake so bad that a Rumble Pak isnt required to help my imagination submerge me into the game. A crazy eyed Gigantic Skull Face laughs at my existence while attacking with support from his Large Freakish Dragon. Cool heads prevail and were off to stage 7. Sh*t I can't go on alone....can I ?

Oh Mr. Busey.. Im sorry I thought you were dead ...

Stage Seven
Dropped into what looks like the Aliens Nest... Again ! Im forced to turn my fire downwards as i clear a path from piles of what appears to be alien shells or bodies. Greeted below by Crawlers and Pods like from the last stage of the first game I suddenly tense and hope this is the end. I quickly am reminded of the end portion of the Aliens Film and feel for Ripley all over again as I realize at 12 pm on a Monday night "No one can hear me scream". I drop down yet again to a Huge Impressive looking Mountain of a Beast that is defeated soo easily I think to myself Sub-Boss?.. But my curiosity ends when their is no flashy exposition animation and I only realize that it is the Stage Seven Boss when the screen anounces the start of Stage Eight.

There goes trouble down the drain...anybody? no? oh well..

"Thisss onesss MINE! "  "George thats its ASS"   "Just leave him Frank "

Are you my daddy?    I ment Boss!  Boss !

Stage Eight 
Stage 8 can not be described properly it just is Ridley Scotts Aliens come to the Famicom/NES the Spore spewers are back and bring with them all sorts of new Giger Aliens some dead on from the Films. The Level is a maze of wondrous fright. In one section the ceiling starts to lower and rise kinda like in the castles of Super Mario Bros, but while this is goin on large homing spores attack as i attempt to make perfectly timed jumps across gaps. I lose a life to a jump that fell short when the ceiling came thrusting down at me. Frustrated I then poorly decide to press forward on the D-Pad as my next guy drops on screen and tragically he falls down the SAME DAMN GAP !!! AARRGGGHHHH...I should in but I force myself onward with my LAST LIFE when just then killing the next 2 aliens brings my unseeable off screen score up to a rewarding 1UP !! And with that 1UP chime and sight of the life popping up in the corner I press forward just when the screen starts to shake as I am pressed up against a rock wall that starts to crumble away. I see a giant white skull pushing up at my feet and base of wall, as I start to motion the D-pad to back away from the wall and skull my ears are met with the awful "You JUST FU*KED UP " sound of death. My eyes are tortured by the sight of Mad Dog fliping over backwards in agony as my jaw drops 4 feet to the hard wood floor... Left with only ONE life I must defeat the Giant Awesome Giger Space Jockey Alien Queen and with only the basic gun... I exhale hoping that this is truly THE FINAL BOSS !!!

(The reason you see Multiple lives in My screenshots is after I beat a real cartridge version  I play it again after I write the Article BUT this time I play it on a emulator on my mac so I can get the screenshots I write about)

Just look at the detail !!  Its Nintendo 8 Bit people!!

Stage Eight... FINAL BOSS ???
 Dodging projectiles & flaming turd logs as my fatigued muscles ache I steady my aim at the Bastards eye sockets, and Im reduced to jelly as I hear the triumphant sound of explosions and victory music. I quickly tense up for a second anticipating doom when Im happily treated to the sight of the rescue chopper and closing credits.....Finally at 12:45 I can go to bed a HERO...

"Screw you lady Im all Man" 

Im soo glad I finally played this game and It truly deserves the title of Super Contra 
If you haven't played it go find it in some form today and do so.

By the way
While finishing this article I happened talk to my Sister who answered the question from the Contra article last week ..the one about guessing the actors from Aliens whose names make up the 2 characters names in Contra.

So a special Congratulatory Shout out to her and I had also planed to give a prize to the first person who took the time to answer so I guess its hers. Ill have to mail it out to her. Look closely for secret give-aways and contests in the future prizes consist of classic gaming merch.

Also time of this articles completion...12:45....creepy coincidence ....

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