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In the year 2631, a small meteorite has fallen into the Galuga archipelago, located 20km northeast off the coast of New Zealand. Two years later, a terrorist group known as Red Falcon has seized the island in preparation for an alien invasion. The earth's marines sent two members of their elite Contra unit, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, to neutralize the terrorists.

As either Bill (player 1) or Lance (player 2), the player must get to the end of each stage, shooting everything in sight, while avoiding enemy fire themselves. The player can upgrade their standard-issue rifle into one of four different weapons, including the powerful spread shot.


Contra ZX Spectrum This set of turrets not only has a <i>boss</i> hidden behind the curtains, but also an army of the <i>Red Falcon Organization</i> soldiers.
Contra Commodore 64 There's the exit
Contra Commodore 64 Firing a laser
Contra Arcade Run and gun

Promo Images

Contra Concept Art
Contra Screenshot
Contra Concept Art
Contra Screenshot


Alternate Titles

  • "魂斗羅" -- Japanese spelling
  • "魂斗罗" -- Chinese spelling (simplified)
  • "Kon To Ra" -- Japanese gikun phonetic title
  • "Gryzor" -- European Arcade/Computer title
  • "Arcade Archives: Contra" -- PS4 title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

There are no reviews for this game.

Critic Reviews

Xboxdynasty (XD) Xbox 360 Feb 03, 2008 8.6 out of 10 86
Happy Computer Amstrad CPC Feb, 1988 83 out of 100 83
The Games Machine (UK) Amstrad CPC Feb, 1988 82 out of 100 82
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Amstrad CPC Feb, 1988 771 out of 1000 77
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) ZX Spectrum Mar, 1988 750 out of 1000 75
Game Over Online Xbox 360 Jan 08, 2007 70 out of 100 70
All Game Guide Arcade 1998 3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars 70
GameSpot Xbox 360 Nov 10, 2006 6.6 out of 10 66
TeamXbox Xbox 360 Nov 09, 2006 6.5 out of 10 65
IGN Xbox 360 Nov 08, 2006 5 out of 10 50


Topic # Posts Last Post
Beautiful video for a beautiful game 15 Adzuken (858)
Feb 13, 2014
Finally beat it 3 chirinea (44818)
Mar 10, 2013


Cheat code

Contra's infamous code for 30 lives (see Tips & Tricks), has become a minor part of video game geek culture, appearing on T-shirts and referred to in movies and television shows, and being mentioned as one of the greatest gaming moments of all time by the magazine Game Informer.

Cover Art

The protagonists illustrated on the front cover (Bill and Lance) were both borrowed heavily from two different Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator - directed by John McTiernan, 1987) poses.

European version

The game's European NES release was censored, changing the main character and other human-looking enemies to robots. Characters remained human in other European releases.

German index

On August 31, 1988, Contra was put on the infamous German index by the BPjS. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed games.

Removed content

There are a large amount of content that was cut between the original Japanese Famicom release and subsequent international NES releases. There is an opening sequence that explains the story, as well as a map screen between stages much like in Ghosts 'N Goblins. These sequences were both cut, along with the music that plays during them. Many stages featured additional visual effects, such as blowing trees on the first stage, falling snow on the fifth stage, and literally the entire level pulsating on the eighth stage. The original version also features a slightly longer ending sequence with an added scene. There is also even a hidden stage select menu.

Despite this, the game itself plays identically, as no changes were made that affect gameplay. The large amount of content removed reduced the game's data from 2 megabits to 1, suggesting this was done to save on manufacturing costs due to using a smaller ROM size.


The ending environment is very similar to the movie Aliens. Also, the cover of the American release features two soldiers who are slightly modified and repainted images from the movie Predator.


The original Contra and its sequel, Super Contra, were set in the distant future, during the 27th century (in 2633 and 2634 respectively). The Famicom (Japanese NES) port even had an introduction sequence detailing the plot. However, when the NES version was localized, the cut-scenes were removed due to the fact that Konami was forced use a standard Nintendo-made mapper instead of the proprietary VRC4 mapper they used for the Japanese version (Nintendo had made no such restriction in Japan regarding the use of custom chips and cartridges, thus third-party companies were allowed to take such liberties if they wanted).

Since the US NES version had no in-game storyline, the author of the US manual took the liberty of placing the game's plot in the present. Moreover, the setting was changed from the fictional Galuga archipelago to the Amazons and the nicknames "Mad Dog" and "Scorpian" were given to the main characters, Bill and Lance (who also lost their surnames in the process).

When the series made it's appearance on the SNES in the form of Contra III: The Alien Wars, the intro made it clear that the game was set in the future (2636). Since there was no way cover their previous mistakes, the author of the manual this time declared that the main characters in Contra III were not Bill and Lance, but their apparent descendants, Jimbo and Sully.

Ironically enough, the censored Probotector games released for the European NES had manuals that were more faithful to their Japanese counterparts than the American versions.


The English title of Contra comes from the way the title is phonetically displayed in Japanese, using the characters "Kon To Ra". The literal meaning behind these characters seems unimportant: "kon" means "spirit", "to" means "battle" and "ra", means some sort of cloth. Literally this would translate to something similar to "Battle Spirit Cloth". An alternate source of translation claims that the title translated is "Soul Big Dipper Gauze".

Regardless of the literal meaning, the title seems to have been written as a "gikun". What that means is that the phonetics of the title are more important than the actual meaning itself.

It has been suggested by some that the intent behind the name is even more complicated than that. "Kon To Ra" purposely chosen to sound like "Contra", a term popularly used to describe armed guerrilla forces in Central America during the 1980s.


  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
  • Game Informer
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #13 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
Information also contributed by 雷堂嬢汰狼 -jotaro.raido- Foxhack, Johnny Undaunted, PCGamer77, WildKard and Xoleras

Related Web Sites

  • Contra Encyclopedia (Fan site dedicated to the official games in the Contra series. All versions of each game are covered. Information includes release dates, detailed game descriptions, regional differences, lots of trivia and interesting information about the games' developmental stages. There is also plenty of screenshots, links and additional resources.)
  • CPC-Power (in French) (for Amstrad CPC: game database entry; package material; manual digitalizations; goodies; advertisement; magazine reviews; downloadable releases; music; additional material)
  • Lemon 64 (for C64: game entry database; reviews; magazine review; music; manual; cover art digitalizations; online version; additional material)
  • MSX Generation (for MSX: package material digitalizations; additional material)
  • The Contra Headquarters (archived) (A hosted fan "shrine" site devoted to all the games of the Contra series, including the original arcade/NES/PC game. Content includes game info/descriptions, plot summaries, various kinds of media (images, MP3s, etc.) and links to other Contra-related sites. )
  • The International Arcade Museum (Contra) (extensive information about the arcade game machine)
  • The International Arcade Museum (Gryzor) (extensive information about the arcade game machine)
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Contra) (encyclopaedic entry for combined platforms)
  • World of Spectrum (for ZX Spectrum: downloadable releases; additional material including – cassette inlay, advertisement, instructions, game drafts; player reviews; magazine references; magazine adverts)
  • X360A achievement guide (X360A's achievement guide for Contra.)
Contributed to by JRK (11176), Michael Cassidy (21121), 666gonzo666 (61757), Sciere (540290), Martin Smith (66862), Ben K (23920) and The Ring Hawk (839)