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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.

The game contains some differences depending on the platform:
  • Arcade version - contains 10 levels. All versions below are ports of this version.
  • Amstrad CPC - contains 7 levels and uses flip-screen instead of scrolling
  • C64 - contains 6 levels
  • DOS - contains 9 levels
  • ZX Spectrum - contains 7 levels


Contra Amstrad CPC 3-way shot
Contra Amstrad CPC A ring of fire is approaching Lance
Contra Amstrad CPC Title
Contra Amstrad CPC A weapon power-up

Promo Images

Contra Screenshot
Contra Concept Art
Contra Concept Art
Contra Concept Art


Alternate Titles

  • "アーケードアーカイブス 魂斗羅" -- Japanese PS4 / Switch spelling
  • "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 / Switch title

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

There are no reviews for this game.

Critic Reviews

Computer and Video Games (CVG) Feb, 1988 9 out of 10 90 Nov 13, 2009 17 out of 20 85
Power Play Feb, 1988 8.5 out of 10 85
Happy Computer Feb, 1988 83 out of 100 83
ASM (Aktueller Software Markt) Jan, 1988 10 out of 12 83
The Games Machine (UK) Feb, 1988 82 out of 100 82
Retro Game Reviews Oct 27, 2015 8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars8 Stars 80
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Feb, 1988 771 out of 1000 77
ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Oct, 1988 743 out of 1000 74


Topic # Posts Last Post
Beautiful video for a beautiful game 15 Adzuken (854)
Feb 13, 2014
Finally beat it 3 chirinea (46553)
Mar 10, 2013


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.

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.


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 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.)
Martin Smith (72405) added Contra (Amstrad CPC) on Nov 11, 2005
Other platforms contributed by JRK (11243), 666gonzo666 (62953), Rik Hideto (365080), Sciere (697924), Ben K (23897) and The Ring Hawk (838)