Gamers of…well, gamers of a certain age apparently have dim, dust-covered memories of a genre called the “side-scrolling shooter.” In these games jagged, pixelated backgrounds advanced from right to left across the screen at a fixed pace, and the player’s character, vehicle, or abstract collection of pixels doggedly forged its way from left to right, overcoming obstacles, eliminating bad guys, and racking up something called “points.”
(We understand these “points” weren’t redeemable for anything. Hard to believe, I know: we’re checking into it.)
One example of the side-scrolling shooter genre was Contra, a game which apparently captured the heart, mind, and (dare we say?) the very soul of a member of DT’s crack editorial team…and the resulting damage on all our psyches can only be described as…devastating.
Contra follows the left-to-right adventures of two special ops soldiers Lance and Bill (we called them “Sly” and “Arnold” in our day) who blast their way through fortresses, jungles, rivers, and fields of ice to save the world from Red Falcon. We think Red Falcon was an alien. Or maybe a re-constituted Nazi. Or a criminal organization. We can’t remember. Whatever they were, Red Falcon had nothing to do with Nicaragua, and had an endless supply of minions-for-fodder. Lance and Bill would trot along, picking up lasers, flame throwers, and a “spread gun,” blasting minions and hopping over terrain obstacles. All to a stunning 8-bit computer-generated soundtrack.
As they say, everything old is new again, and tomorrow, November 8, Contra makes its debut on Xbox Live Arcade. This new version has all eight Contra levels, and has been “enhanced” with cooperative multi-player online gaming, leaderboards, and updated graphics and sound effects. This version of Contra is rated E10 by the ESRB, and will be available for download for a scant 400 Microsoft Points.
Here at DT, we applaud the efforts of developer Digital Eclipse to bring Contra to modern-day gamers—maybe now we’ll finally get some piece and quiet around here.