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The Famicom/NES versions of Contra are an expanded port of the arcade version, developed in-house. The biggest difference is that the levels are restructured and significantly longer, with stages 5 through 8 being derived from and expanded from areas in the arcade version's final stage. The plot is altered as well, being set in the year 1987 in the Amazon, rather than 2633 in the Galuga archipelago. Weapons are slightly different in function and frequency, and the Konami Code makes a famous appearance. The Famicom version has additional graphical effects and between-mission cut-scenes not seen in the NES version.


Contra NES Game play of Probotector, where you are a robot.
Contra NES Higher and higher...
Contra NES Palm trees are now animated in the Japanese version.
Contra NES Wow, now THAT'S a weapon!

Promo Images

Contra Magazine Advertisement Inside Back Cover
Contra Magazine Advertisement


Alternate Titles

  • "魂斗羅" -- Japanese spelling
  • "Probotector" -- European NES title
  • "コントラ" -- Japanese spelling (alternate)

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

Congratulations! You've designed the best run-and-gun platformer in the universe. Consider yourselves heroes. NES J. P. Gray (120)
20 years later, Contra still shines like a brand new shell casing. NES DarkBubble (376)
A freaking good old action shooter NES Bregalad (968)
If you haven't played this game yet, I feel sorry for you. NES Jeff Koerner (38)
Contra, No Iran NES ETJB (480)

Critic Reviews

Video Game Den NES Apr 16, 2012 5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars 100
Questicle.net NES Aug, 2011 A 100
Joystick (French) NES Apr, 1991 92 out of 100 92
1UP! NES May 11, 2002 92 out of 100 92
NES Archives NES Mar 15, 2008 A- 91
Random Access NES Dec 24, 2010 9 out of 10 90
NES Times NES Jul 27, 2007 9 out of 10 90
Video Games NES Mar, 1991 88 out of 100 88
Classic-games.net NES Jun 05, 2017 8 out of 10 80
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) NES Mar, 1991 7 out of 12 58


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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.

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.

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 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.
Contributed to by Alaka (94287) and The cranky hermit (2947)
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