I spent many afternoons and weekends playing Contra for NES as a kid. I can safely say that this game on NES was the game I spent more time playing than any other. It wasn’t the best NES game ever made, not by a long shot. It also didn’t have the best graphics or most gripping storyline. But Contra was one of those games that you could come back to again and again. Slap your favorite 80’s rock cassette tape into your Walkman, don a pair of those cheesy yet comfortable padded foam headphones and get lost in the world of an additively fun side-scrolling shooter game.
What is Contra Anniversary Edition?
I am specifically covering the Nintendo Switch edition of the Contra Anniversary Collection, but in addition to Nintendo Switch it was also released on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam. The primary content and features are very similar across all the platforms.
For Nintendo Switch the Contra Anniversary Collection, at least for now, is only available as a digital download. You have to visit the Nintendo eShop on the Nintendo Switch and buy and download the game digitally. The Contra Anniversary Collection is comprised of ten different Contra games:
Insert image front the new game artwork
- Contra (arcade version, 1987)
- Contra (NES, 1988)
- Contra (Famicom, 1988)
- Super Contra (arcade, 1988)
- Super C (NES, 1990)
- Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES, 1992)
- Super Probotector: Alien Rebels (SNES, 1992)
- Contra: Hard Corps (Genesis, 1994)
- Probotector (Mega Drive, 1994)
- Operation C (Game Boy, 1991)
But the content doesn’t stop with just these games. There is also a 74 page Bonus Book (digital book) with all kinds of bonus content:
- Basic storyline, controls and a list of goals/objectives for each of the ten games
- The official Contra timeline: A timeline of the storyline of the entire series of games (not the timeline of the game releases)
- Interviews with key figures: Nobuya Nakazato (producer of several games in the series), Tom duBois (created box artwork for the series)
- Exclusive Material: original game mechanic sketches, storyboards and artwork
Should You Pick It Up?
At the $20 price point if you have ever played a Contra game and are even thinking about buying the Contra Anniversary Collection, then the answer is simple…yes! This collection goes way beyond just a bit of nostalgia. Konami could have just done a simple port of these games and called it a day. But rather than just giving you the original graphics and aspect ratios they also give you the ability to customize both the frame artwork surrounding the game (if the game aspect ratio doesn’t fill your screen) and the graphic style being displayed.
The Nintendo Switch handheld screen is a respectable size, but when you are playing a game in its original arcade or NES aspect ratio it’s mobile nature can become quite obvious . So opting for a 16:9 aspect ratio on the graphics is a really nice plus. And speaking of small, a surprise for me was how much fun to play Operation C was. Operation C was originally developed for Gameboy and I never owned a Gameboy nor played Operation C, so this was a brand new game for me.
If you are a Contra super nerd, then most likely there is not an enormous amount of new material here for you in the Contra Anniversary Collection other than the Bonus book materials and maybe access to the Japanese and European versions of a few of the Contra games. But if you are like me, I had not played every version of Contra out there so this collection introduced me to several new titles. I am also a huge fan of challenging yet fun to play games and the Contra series of games certainly fits that bill. So crank up your favorite tunes and lock a load so you can blast your way through level after level of Contra alien blasting fun.
As I mentioned earlier, the Contra Anniversary Collection for Nintendo Switch is only available for electronic download through the Nintendo eStore on the Switch for about $20 (and other respective game stores on Xbox, PlayStation and Steam). If you are looking for music recommendations I have a couple of playlists I created that work really well with these games. If you are an Apple Music subscriber you can access my playlists by clicking below.
At the time I was playing Contra for NES, my go-to cassette tape for my Sony Walkman was the Iron Eagle II soundtrack. Turns out getting a hold of that entire album digitally is rather challenging, so the best I could do is put together an Iron Eagle I and II compilation playlist on Apple Music based on the songs from those soundtracks that are currently available on the Apple Music platform.
I also created a playlist a while back based on the Ernest Cline novel Armada (so it is quite suitable for a retro side-scroller like Contra). It is called Raid The Arcade Mix and if you are on Apple Music you can download it here.