It’s hard to believe that Contra, one of the best two-player co-op games on the NES, has just turned two years old! Striking while the iron is still hot, Konami has prepared the follow-up: Super C. Much like how the original game took liberties with the arcade game it was based upon, so does the sequel. Although arcade purists will no doubt be disappointed that changes were made for the NES conversion, I’m glad they switched things up to make it more entertaining on a home console.
Action games like these don’t need a backstory to be fun and entertaining, but this is Konami we’re talking about and they not only have the best game boxes in the business (beautiful front covers and amazingly written backsides), but they often infuse their instruction booklets with some over the top prose and Super C is no different. Both Lance and Bill are back to take out another round of Red Falcon’s alien forces. If you’ve played the Contra you know exactly what to expect here – and that may or may not be a problem depending on your perspective.
Once again there are eight stages to shoot your way through, each tougher than the last. You have an array of special power-ups to pickup that will give you some truly fierce firepower. Most of them are identical to the first game, so while you start off with a simple pellet shooter, you’ll quickly be able to trade up to more entertaining weapons. Our favorite, the Spread Gun, makes a valiant return from the original and is still the best tool to mow down multiple enemies at once thanks to its wide scattershot. If you’re looking for powerful blasts of energy you’ll want to be on the lookout for the Laser. The Fire Ball from the last game has been replaced with the Flame Thrower – which is somewhat similar, but slightly different in how it deploys. No matter what gun your wielding, having a turbo controller will definitely save on your thumb abuse.
One big change in Super C is that there are now overhead-shooting stages nestled between some of the side-scrolling ones. If you recall the first game featured a sort of over the shoulder 3D viewpoint to break up the action, but those have been replaced with Commando/Ikari Warriors-like sections. They are definitely longer to get through and feature a cool pseudo-3D viewpoint that looks rather impressive for the NES, although it does feel odd to not be able to jump in these areas.
The graphics, sound effects, and music are all what you’d expect from a Konami title. Some of the stages are a bit fancier than the original, with diagonal scrolling and more depth given to the playfield. Animations and environments look about the same as last time and quite honestly if you were to walk in on someone playing Super C you would be easily forgiven for thinking it was Contra. The soundtrack and sound effects are also very similar in nature – although many of the musical number here feature a sort of synth drumbeat that differentiates it a little bit. I’m not sure if it’s the sheer amount of hours I spent playing the original or what, but I do prefer the look and sound of the first game to this one. The same can be said for the entire game, really.
There are many ways a sequel can improve over the original. It can iterate on the strengths and come up with new and exciting gameplay mechanics. It can embrace the steady progress of technology to really wow us with better graphics and a memorable soundtrack. Sometimes we see a complete departure from the original game with a sequel that implements new ideas, like we’ve seen with Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. Granted, those were somewhat risky ventures and not everyone was excited with the end results, but at least they tried something new.
With Super C you literally get more of what you liked in Contra – and that may not be a bad thing. I know I had a really fun time blasting my way through all eight stages with my friends and I’m sure we’ll play through it again and again, just like the original. However, the magic just isn’t the same and that’s mostly due to the lack of innovation. The virtual lack of any new weapons, the same old enemy types, and such similar audio-visuals make for a game that, while fun, comes across as an also-ran. It’s hard to shake that feeling of “been there, done that”. Thankfully the controls and level layouts are top-tier Konami goodness and there’s plenty to enjoy here. I just wish it offered up more exciting ideas. Contra was revolutionary when it debuted on the NES two years ago. Super C fails to build anything new on that foundation, but it’s still a fun ride.
Super C Review
- Graphics - 8.5/108.5/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7.5/107.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Konami knows how to make fantastic NES games and Contra is simply one of the best out there. Super C is a solid follow-up to a legendary Game Pak, but it fails to bring anything new to the series. Fans will enjoy blasting their way through eight stages of alien enemies, but at the end of the day it’s more of the same. That may or may not be a good thing depending on how much you enjoyed the original.