Contra is a game fueled by guns, muscles, challenge and quarters, so when it time go make a sequel to the legendary game, the developers took the same formula and super sized it. Super C is the 2D run and gun action shooter sequel to Contra. For anyone that managed to make it through the original game, here comes Super C to punish you in different new ways.
The series has always been a game known for its one hit deaths and so a lot of people relied on the Konami code for thirty lives, but in Super C you can only garner a mere ten instead of your typical three lives and three continues. A lot of people attribute the one hit deaths to a testament of its difficulty, but you still have a lot of mobility. Your jump is fluid and can leap over enemies and as you hurtle through the air, you do have eight-directional shooting.
You can play alone or bring a friend for two player cooperation and believe me, two guns and more lives is always a big help in a game designed to kill you. Beyond giant bosses and big enemies, there are fodder soldiers that keep spawning in, so its best for you to stay moving.
To compensate for one hit deaths, you can grab some big weapons. You will find these weapons within floating boxes. Shoot the boxes and a weapon icons drops out, such as everyone’s favorite, the spreader. This gun sprays a wide angle of bullets at enemies. You start with a default gun that forces you to tap the B button each time you want to fire, but you can grab a machine gun that lets you hold the button and let it spray a steady stream. I much prefer the machine gun to anything else in the game. The laser lets you fire a giant beam. if you attack again, it resets the beam. This is good in case you miss your target, just shoot again. Its a good trade off for a gun so powerful you only have one beam at a time. The flame thrower has been improved to increase its particle size over time. There are all sorts of power ups as well. Barriers that grant you invincibility, bombs that destroy all enemies on the screen. You can even earn an extra life through points.
Super C takes a lot from its predecessor, including the graphics, sounds and controls, but it changes things with new types of levels and engaging, diverse challenges such as climbing slopes, digging with your guns downward and even a non-lethal ceiling that slams down to prevent you from jumping over pits.
There’s less of an emphasis on platforming in Super C. The original game had platforms everywhere, but in this one platforms are really only found in vertical levels that force you to jump up platforms or drop down from them to get deeper. A lot of the horizontal scrolling levels are flat with a few exceptions like an incline in the first stage. It might sound like something is being taken away, but what’s being replaced is challenge through timing. Now you need to duck, jump, wait and rush ahead to survive an onslaught of bullets and bombs.
The vertical scrolling platform levels make good use of leaping up platforms. There are always turrets to take out and winged soldiers to leap down at you. It changes the pace beyond shooting left or right and at snipers. Instead you need to aim up. There’s a stage that has you coming down slopes to take out alien enemies below. A nice touch is that on an incline your character kneels rather than prawns when you press down.
The action always offers new challenges, such as the third stage that starts in a standard jungle, before you come face to face with a cannon that sprays projectiles into the air and drop at random places on the screen. Then you dive into the water,because Super C starts to throw more enemies and snipers at you. The water lets you dive under like the first level of the original game to be completely protected. After a brief mini boss, you need to cross a rumbling cliff that will begin to fall making death pits for you. Its always something new and different. Nothing overstays its welcome.
Gone from the previous game are the secondary levels that had you shooting at walls. Those were easy once you knew what you were doing, but Super C introduces an overhead vertical scrolling shooter to keep things interesting. I would much rather play these than Contra’s wall levels. These overhead levels keep things fresh with new challenge. Rather than jumping, you need to use your footwork. A secondary weapon would have been nice to replace the jump, but having these levels to mix it up more than surpasses any expectations.
The bosses are as big as ever. There is a lot new going on with them. Super C takes generic sounding boss fights and puts big twists on them. If I told you that you would fight a helicopter, would you expect it to have four guns out the side, a heart in the center and let troops out of the back? If I told you that you’d fight a tank, would you ever think that it would have three gunners on it, as well as a turret and an electrified bumper that pushes out?
That’s just Contra’s style, taking the norm and putting twists on it. The bosses go from mundane with a twist to alien and crazy. One boss is a skull and ribs with two sets of horns. One set is to drip purple liquid and the other set is to catch it before it inevitably falls to the ground. Another boss is a face with a giant snake that circles you. Contra games always make good use of sounds, and with bosses they come in handy, because there’s always a hit that sounds like a ping when you’re doing damage. Otherwise you can just be shooting a giant face without doing any damage, because its something else that you need to shoot.
The enemies as well turn from running soldiers, snipers and ground cannons into strange aliens. There are ground crawling aliens, bipedal aliens and alien mouths spitting projectiles that seek you out after a few seconds. Its everything familiar from the original game, twisted into something fresh.
As for the environments, they make big changes as well so you feel the progression over the course of a thirty minute game. You go from an abandon city of cement into a green, lush jungle before you get into a purple alien hive. Some things of the game do feel rushed, like when there’s a boss that’s nothing but lasers, an elevator segment followed up with another elevator segment, but the game still makes them feel like a fun challenge rather than mundane filler.
While Super C will never have the popularity of the original, its still a great game, but offers a challenge too great for most players. A lot of people like to talk about how difficult Contra is, but that’s the tip of the iceberg to how tough the series can get.