Super Contra 7 is an unofficial run n gun game that looks a lot better than it plays. The Contra franchise is legendary for the run n gun genre with one hit deaths, big action and fun gameplay. The early series is one of the most loved and revered games of all time. Revered for its challenge, so its an easy target to make an unofficial game. On the surface, the game looks like a new Contra game. You can play solo or with two players simultaneously as Bill Rizer and Lance Beam from the first game. Most of the graphics and sound have been pulled straight from Contra games.
Its a game covered in tar with how slow it moves. Your jumps keep you in the air and offer a lot of control, but even jumping becomes detrimental. Outside of how slow the game performs, there are other issues, such as poor hit detection and spotty hit detection, such as the first boss let me jump through him dozens of times, before it finally hit and killed me. The player cannot get next to a barrel, because the hit box doesn’t match with the edge of the barrel and its a laughably far distance. One larger enemy that fires projectiles kills you even far away, because its hit box is just so giant. There are problems in the reverse where you can drop through the edge of a platform.
Oh, but the list keeps going when it comes to the issues. If you are still holding jump when you land, you’ll jump again. It can be a problem when you jump to a higher platform only to jump a immediately second time. You need to be very soft with your jumps.
Another downfall of the game is there’s no score. No score means no extra lives or high score. Between levels shows you a high score screen straight out of the original Contra, but there is no high score, so its always at 0. There are extra lives in containers, but that’s it. You need to rely on your mastery of awful controls and level memorization, especially in the second level with falling rocks.
That’s another negative thing about this game, there are a lot of levels that are just unfair death traps, until you’ve memorize them. Sure some people say that’s NES hard, but its painful in a game with limited lives and continues. The original Contra may have been difficult, but it still felt fair and fun. This just feels poorly programmed. When you die close to the edge of the screen your character flips through to the other side dead.
So poorly programmed that the first boss’s projectiles are wildly erratic, sometimes unpredictable, such as moving at normal speed, but other times they are hyper speed. Sometimes they curve and arc, but other times they’re standard and typical. Its as if someone wanted an increase in speed, but messed up speed fro the X axis. Its also even a pain to shoot the boss. it needs to be shot in its underbelly, but sometimes it doesn’t need to be. Its a testament to how poorly programmed this game is.
The second level instantly feels better than the first, for a brief second, before the slowdown happens. Its as if there is a memory leak somewhere caused by gunfire or the enemies. Which is it? Both go pretty slow.
In terms of the guns, its like a typical Contra game, you start with a machine gun, so you just hold down the shoot button and jump your way over obstacles and enemies. There is eight direction shooting when you jump, which has always been a staple of the Contra series. When you press down you prawn. Its got easy controls, its just slow to act.
Unlike other Contra games, your bullets have a limited distance and almost reach the end of the screen. Almost, but not quite. You’ll find some of the traditional Contra staples here, such as laser, spreader and the flamethrower. The flamethrower feels better than the original game, and its closer to Contra 3 where the flame grows larger, the further it gets. There is something funny about it though, when the flames are fired, they start as machine gun bullets until they grow larger.
The spread is slower than previous games, but then so is everything. The rate of fire has been balanced out. The laser feels better, because it auto fires and doesn’t reset itself when you shoot again. I’m not sure which method is better, I can understand the logic for both styles.
There are icons that destroy all of the enemies on screen and even a barrier that grants you invincibility for a short time. Each of these items and weapons are contained in the standard Contra style item box that floats overhead, but in Super Contra 7, it turns these boxes into enemies. In a brilliant twist, these boxes throw bombs, so there’s more pressure to destroy them. By the third stage, they forget to drop bombs, so there is that inconsistency.
As for the enemies, they are 8-bit versions of other Contra foes. Face huggers from the end of the first game, soldiers recolored and lip monsters from Super C. The soldiers run at random speeds and after a few seconds they will charge forward, so there is an added bit of difficulty. They also will always spawn at random sides of the screen, even during boss fights.
The bosses feel new and fresh, even if a lot of them were taken from other Contra games. These bosses take an excessive amount of bullets, but in a way its okay since some bosses have projectiles that rarely count as a hit, even when you’re clearly hit.
One of the unique things about the game is the use of a “Go” button that is commonly found in a beat’em up or brawler. When you get to a boss, it will point in the direction to trigger the boss fight. You will have to jump down areas or jump up when the “Go” indicator tells you. Its a nice touch for a game that could have easily forgotten it.
Something that the original three Contra games always had going for them was gameplay diversity. After the first stage, they changed things up. Contra had something where you shot through walls. Super C had an overhead vertical scrolling shooter and the same with Contra 3: The Alien Wars. So what does Super Contra 7 have to change it up? Nothing. No one plays Contra for the secondary stages, but they have always been a nice touch to keep it engaging.
Another thing that could have been forgotten is the game demo. Yes that’s right, a demo for four or five of the levels plays at the beginning of the game. It even shows the players having fifty lives. If only there was a code to grant such a thing.
The music is forgettable and at times painful and high pitched. Contra has always been known for an amazing soundtrack to get you pumped for action, but this is just a spastic single song that loops. Can an unofficial game be compared to official releases? Yes they can, but there is no comparison. Contra is the easy victor.
With everything being said, its still good to have a new Contra game to test your mettle against, but this is by no means a good game. Its more of an interesting oddity piggy backing off of a great franchise. if only someone could swoop in and fix the issues to make it less of a struggle to play.