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Video Game / Contra

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Any resemblance to Arnie and Sly is probably intentional.

"Fire! Fire! Fire! And don't stop firing are the only instructions you need. Because in this Doomsday extravaganza, there's little time for thinking. A killer instinct is all that matters. And if your trigger finger lacks stamina, Earth will lack a future."
— From the Super C manual

Contra is a Run-and-Gun action game series produced by Konami in 1987, starring Super Soldier Bill Rizer (accompanied by his partner Lance Bean in the early games) who must defend the Earth using a variety of weapons, including Machine Guns, Fire Balls, Lasers, Bombs, and the ever-popular Spread Gun.

The games are notoriously difficult, but fast-paced enough that most players don't mind the challenge. The NES version of the original Contra popularized what is now known as the "Konami Code": Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.

List of Contra games:

  • Contra (Arcade/NES/MSX2/ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC as Gryzor)
  • Super Contra (Arcade, released as Super C on the NES)
  • Operation C (Game Boy)
  • Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES/GB, released as Contra Advanced: The Alien Wars EX on the GBA, with added elements from Hard Corps.)
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  • Contra Force (NES, a Dolled-Up Installment originally planned as an unrelated game titled Arc Hound)
  • Contra: Hard Corps (Genesis)
  • Contra: Legacy of War (PS/Saturn, first of the two Appaloosa-developed installments)
  • C: The Contra Adventure (PS, the other Appaloosa-developed installment)
  • Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2, returned to 2D)
  • Neo Contra (PS2, another attempt at a 3D Contra)
  • Contra 4 (Nintendo DS, developed by WayForward Technologies)
  • Contra ReBirth (WiiWare, developed by M2)
  • Hard Corps: Uprising (PSN and Xbox Live Arcade)
  • Contra 3D, a pachislot game released exclusively for Japan roughly based on the first two games.
  • Contra: Evolution (arcade/iOS/Android, officially licensed remake of the NES/Famicom Contra developed for the Chinese/Hong Kong market and later the international markets)
  • Contra Return, iOS/Android, a free to play game co-developed by Timi of Tencent Games.
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  • Contra: Rogue Corps, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Steam.

Known as Gryzor (the arcade and home computer versions) or Probotector (the home console versions) in Europe.

On April 19, 2017 a live-action film was announced, and was scheduled to be released in 2019, a date it missed. Its current status is unknown.

This series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Heroism: In the Sega Genesis version of Probotector (Contra: Hard Corps), Dr. Mandrake did not betray the Probotector, and was removed from other scenes he was supposed to be in after the first stage split. Colonel Bahamut is also replaced by an unnamed alien who has a pyramid for his head.
  • Advertised Extra: Spidal (a.k.a. The Babalu Destructoid Mechanism), the robot spider from Super C. It's on the cover, it's illustrated in the manual, it is heralded by a music switch, and it's just a Mini-Boss who is vulnerable to a Cranium Ride. If you have the Laser it won't even get close.
  • Alien Invasion: The central conflict in all games involves a destructive alien race invading Earth, forcing a group of commandos to work together to repel the intruders.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The plot for most of the games prior to Contra: Hard Corps, which is how the American version of the series managed to get away with a different continuity for several years until Contra: Shattered Soldier (aside for the fact that the Famicom version of Contra had cut-scenes which were removed from its NES counterpart).
    • You wouldn't know that Contra: Hard Corps took place during the holiday season if you haven't looked at the manual.
  • Allegedly Free Game: Contra Return has insane grinding requirements, major difficulty spikes, equipment drops mostly governed by Loot Box, also several paid-only perks (mostly time-limited).
  • Alternate Universe: Contra Return takes place in another continuity with characters from the Contra series put in, which is why some Hard Corps characters look radically different and Bahamut is still a good guy with no signs of pulling a coup at first, and Bill answers to him. A possible reference to Hard Corps: Uprising where Bahamut looked and played exactly like Bill in other Contra games.
  • Alternative Calendar: Parodied in Contra ReBirth, which is set in "Contra Year 2633", a reference to the MSX Gradius series (in which the game's universe had its own "Gradian" calendar).
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Clearing the game with an S-rank in Neo Contra unlocks a swimsuit costume for the character you used.
  • Antagonist Title: Neo Contra. The game's title comes from the name of the terrorist organization Bill and Jaguar battle throughout the whole game.
  • Art Shift: Contra Return features a more cleaner art style with far less grotesque bits and parts.
  • Beast with a Human Face:
    • The Jinmen-gyo from Shattered Soldier, whose name appropriately means "human-faced fish". There's also the
    • In the first level of III, one of the enemies is a man-faced mutt.
  • Beat 'em Up: Contra Return can be described as "Beat em up with guns" as now there are almost no enemies that are One-Hit-Point Wonder, the players, like in the Japanese version of Hard Corps, except for one gameplay mode, are also not One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Behind the Black: In Contra ReBirth, the boss of Area 3 repeatedly bounces off the edges of the screen when defeated, even though you're riding a truck through a wide open area with nothing to bounce off of.
  • Big Bad:
    • Emperor Devil Gava is the leader of the invading aliens in most of the games.
    • In Shattered Soldier, the Big Bad is at first assumed to be Lance Bean, Bill Rizer's former partner, but the true antagonists of the game are the Triumvirate.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Two endings in Contra: Hard Corps, which are only achieved in the routes where you kill Deadeye Joe after the first encounter.
    • Alien Cell Ending: You have finally destroyed the Alien Cell and single-handedly stopped the alien mutation before it spreads to humanity. However, Colonel Bahamut escaped. Still, you'll still stand to oppose him the next time he rises, and at the very least, you pretty much wrecked his current plans (using the Alien Cell) that he cannot rise again THAT quick.
    • Big Magnum Ending: You destroyed Bahamut in his space station headquarters. However, it counts as a Heroic Sacrifice as you do not get out alive from space. Not to mention, the warning shot from Bahamut damages a portion of Earth, but you ensure that none of those will happen again, even if you die in process. The people of Earth reward you with a golden statue of yourself to remember your deeds and sacrifice.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Neo Contra, while Lighter and Softer than Shattered Soldier, has some explicit gory scenes in game. From enemies gushing blood, Mystery G's dying scene to even Jaguar's ending in which he slashes mooks relentlessly, Neo Contra is no slouch when it comes to gory scenes. This is why this game got higher content rating than other games in the series.
  • Boss Game:
    • Hard Corps is a bit different than other Contra games in a way that the normal sidescrolling may be either short or easy, but the game contains a lot of mini-bosses and bosses that you'll spend more time figuring out how bosses fight while fighting them, with lesser platforming than normal Contra games.
    • Shattered Soldier is this to a slightly lesser extent. There are segments like standard Contra of running and gunning through grunts, but even then, most of your time is spent fighting mini-bosses and bosses.
  • Boss Rush: The final stage of Contra III has six bosses in a row (seven if you're playing Hard mode), though the last two bosses were new to the series. The ones who weren't? The final bosses from the previous games and the Stage 4 boss from the Arcade version of Super Contra.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • When the console versions of the Contra games were released in PAL territories, the main characters and some of the enemies were replaced by robotic counterparts and the series was renamed Probotector. This was due to a censorship law in Germany that prohibited selling games to children that depicted human characters killing each other with guns. The first console game in the series that was released in Europe intact was ironically Contra: Legacy of War and later Shattered Soldier. The Probotector robot later appeared as an easter egg in Contra 4.
    • As few Contra games had dialogue or a focus on plot, the change to robots typically didn't affect much with the exception of Contra: Hard Corps (which actually had a storyline). Most of the dialogue and some scenes were cut, which made several events such as Bahamut turning into an alien monster completely unexplained.
    • Contra ReBirth was changed when brought overseas — when a photograph of Chief Salamander is shown at the beginning of Stage 3, he looks strikingly like Adolf Hitler in the Japanese version. He was redrawn to look just like an actual salamander in the overseas versions.
  • Brain in a Jar:
    • The penultimate boss in Contra III, whose official Japanese name is "Brain Organism Searle" note , is a sentient brain with one eye. As it's connected to Emperor Devil Gava note , it reappears among Gava's dissected remains in Neo Contra, and Gava look-alike Black Viper has a similar counterpart in Contra 4.
    • Contra: Hard Corps has "Big Magnum", a brainish alien being used to power a giant planet destroying laser.
  • Break Them by Talking: In Neo Contra, Master Contra delivers one to Bill Rizer at the end of Stage 5, telling him if he knows his personal memories, and that his memories were pieced together by a military database. Let's not forget the fact that he also claims that he is the real Bill Rizer and that Bill Rizer is nothing but a clone. This drives Bill Rizer into a brief Heroic BSoD until Mystery G puts him out of it after he saves Bill and Jaguar from Master Contra and gets killed in the process.
  • Breakable Power-Up: Takes away all powerups on the loss of a life. Since the player is a One-Hit-Point Wonder and Power Ups are not Single Use Shields, the distinction between lives and Hit Points is largely academic in this case.
  • Brick Joke: Area 2 of Contra ReBirth begins with the Contra(s) blowing the head off a Humongous Mecha, sending it flying and the mecha retreating. After the Recurring Boss is defeated at the end of the stage, its head falls from the sky and bonks it, resulting in its disintegration.
  • Bullet Hell: The ninja miniboss in Area 3 of Contra ReBirth has a bullet hell style attack as part of its attack pattern of throwing laser shuriken. On Easy, the bullet hell pattern is pretty straightforward, but as the difficulty level goes up, it becomes more complex and you get less space to dodge the shuriken.
  • The Cameo:
    • An incredibly obscure one in ReBirth; among the fleeing citizens in the second stage is a girl on a skateboard that popped up briefly in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game, and her sprite is more or less an updated version of her NES incarnation (she wore a different outfit in the actual arcade game).
    • On the same stage, a billboard with Dr. Venom's face on it can be seen in the background. Dr. Venom was the antagonist of the Gradius sequels for the MSX.
    • Sparkster of the Rocket Knight Adventures appears, as a shadowy figure, in the Secret Ending of Shattered Soldier.
    • The Rolling Duckers in Contra III were based on the walking Ducker cannons from Gradius.
  • Camera Screw: There is an invisible area "between" the DS's screens in Contra 4. Bullets can pass through it, which will result in numerous, and cheap, deaths from a bullet you couldn't even see a moment before.
  • Camp: Contra ReBirth seems to be a deliberate example of this, although the trend seems to have started with Neo Contra, which is likewise whacky as hell.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Contra Force, Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure are not listed in the database of Contra: Shattered Soldier, though this has mainly to do with the fact that none of those games were released in Japan and database follows the Japanese continuity instead of the American one that was followed by every game in the series prior to Shattered Soldier.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer - In the NES versions of Contra and Super C, Bill and Lance are distinguished by the color of their pants. This was mainly done due to hardware limitations, since Bill and Lance in the arcade version actually have different sprites (though, they did wear color-coded bandannas), but Contra III for the SNES and Contra 4 for the DS both kept the tradition. In the arcade version of Super Contra, Bill and Lance actually wore green and purple respectively, which became the colors for "Mad Dog" and "Scorpion", the extra characters in Contra 4.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Bill and Lance are famously modeled after Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone respectively. A Retraux promotional poster for 4 throws in Wesley Snipes as Mad Dog and Vin Diesel as Scorpion.
  • Combining Mecha: One of the stages in Hard Corps has an aeroplane robot, a sea-urchin robot and a dolphin robot as the minibosses. After the three get their asses handed to them (and escape), they merge together to form a large running robot, a robot bird, and a robot-tank hybrid respectively before attempting to merge one last time and exploding spectacularly instead.
  • Compilation Rerelease:
    • The PC-only Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra features Contra and Super C along with the original NES Castlevania games (and an unused Jackal)
    • The 2019 Contra Anniversary Collection for Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch is a pretty beefy package that features the arcade versions of Contra and Super Contra, the NES Contra, its Japanese version and Super C, the Game boy game Operation C, Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra: Hard Corps and the European Probotector versions of Contra III and Hard Corps. The Probotector games even feature a Turbo feature to have them play at the same 60hz speed as the proper Contra games. A later patch added the Japanese versions of the other games as well.
  • Continuing is Painful: In the early Contra games, losing a life will revert the player's weapon back to the default Normal Gun, which can be especially painful in the middle of a boss battle. To fix this problem, the automatic Machine Gun was made into the default gun from Operation C and onward (with Contra 4 and Hard Corps: Uprising both reverting back to the "peashooter"-style Normal Gun from the arcade and NES games), while Contra III and Hard Corps allowed players to carry more than one weapon at the same time (giving players the option to have a backup weapon in case they lose a life).
  • Cool Versus Awesome: You play as two manly gun-toting soldiers based on Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, fighting off extraterrestrial forces based on one of the most influential horror pop culture icons of that time.
  • Copycat Cover:
  • Crosshair Aware: Inverted in Hard Corps. One of the bosses places a crosshair on the ground before firing a lot of explosives into the air... seconds later, the explosives land, and blow up the entire place except the crosshair.
  • Cutscene Incompetence: Actually optional in Hard Corps. At one point the Doctor tells you that the situation is hopeless and you must surrender, what with the thirteen regular soldiers with their guns trained on you. You may choose to surrender or fight it out (granted, if you do fight it out, you end up fighting completely different enemies).
  • Darker and Edgier: Shattered Soldier features a darker atmosphere overall and a story that's far more deeper than the previous "Aliens are wrecking Earth's shit, Bill and Lance attack aggressively" stories of older games.
  • Death Throws: Averted by almost every One-Hit-Point Wonder character, who die by getting blown back before landing on their back. Played straight by Browny from Hard Corps, who falls off the screen when killed.
  • Decomposite Character: Contra 4 turned the various character designs and Dub Name Changes of Bill and Lance into seven different playable characters:
    • "Bill" and "Lance" use their official names and most iconic designs.
    • "Mad Dog" and "Scorpion" use their names from the American manual of the original Contra and designs based on the arcade version of Super Contra. (Story-wise, they're also Retconned into being the protagonists of Operation C.)
    • "Jimbo" and "Sully" use their names from the American manual of Contra III: The Alien Wars and designs from the same game.
    • Finally, "Probotector" is based on the robots that replaced the human characters in the Bowdlerised European games.
  • Deranged Animation: The larger bosses in Hard Corps are made up of multiple sprites put together to create the illusion of more fluid movement. Sometimes this works, like with Big Blue Bucket O' Bolts. But sometimes this means they have absolutely bizarre movements, like the Wrecker or the Combining Mecha.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In the Amstrad CPC port of the original game, a particularly sadistic example occurs after killing the final boss. For no reason at all, its destruction somehow triggers the Earth's self-destruct mechanism which then promptly wipes out humanity and all life along with it, rendering your entire effort moot. No, really, see for yourself here.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: The Laser Gun. Often regarded as a Power-Up Letdown due to its slow firing and narrow range, mastering it nonetheless nets you a powerful weapon that can take down bosses in seconds.
  • Difficulty by Region:
    • The Japanese version of Contra: Hard Corps had a life meter with allowed three hits before dying. This was removed in other regions without otherwise modifying the difficulty, leading many to regard this as the hardest game in the series.
    • The Famicom versions of the first two games, as well as Contra Spirits, had stage select codes which were removed for their overseas releases.
    • Inverted with the Japanese arcade version of Super Contra, which has a second loop not featured in the overseas release that is basically the hardest setting of the game with your score, lives and weapons (including Hyper Shells) restored from the first playthrough but no more continues nor second player join-ins. The western version ends the game once the final stage is cleared.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Contra Force was derived from an unreleased Famicom game titled Arc Hound.
  • Dragon Their Feet: One of the possible path in Hard Corps has the player fighting against Colonel Bahamut in the second to last level. The last level features Deadeye Joe, who doesn't seem to care that his boss is dead. Unfortunately for him, he's really easy for a Contra mini-boss.
  • Dub Name Change:
    • Bill Rizer and Lance Bean were renamed "Sgt. Bill 'Mad Dog' Ko" and "Corporal Lance 'Scorpion'" in the manuals for the NES versions. When the American version of Contra III kept the futuristic setting, their names were changed again to Jimbo and Sully and this time the manual claimed that they were the descendants of the original heroes. All four names were later used in Contra 4 ("Mad Dog" and "Scorpion" for the two "new" heroes, and "Jimbo" and "Sully" for the Contra III renditions of Bill and Lance).
    • When Contra 4 was translated to Japanese, "Jimbo" and "Sully" became "Spirits Bill" and "Spirits Lance", likely since many Japanese players wouldn't had been that familiar with the name changes.
    • The names of the enemy characters also differ depending on the manual.
    • "Tsugu-Min" became "Brownie" in Contra ReBirth. Despite the similar name, she is a different character from the robot character in Contra: Hard Corps, whose name is "Browny".
    • The bosses have different names in the Japanese release of Hard Corps: Uprising.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • In the arcade version of the original game, you have to wait until the other player runs out of lives before you can continue if you are playing cooperatively. Inverted in Super Contra, where you can continue at any time without having to wait until the other player runs out of lives.
    • The arcade versions of Contra and Super Contra use vertically-oriented screens. Aside from being a weird orientation for a mainly-horizontal Run-and-Gun game, this setup was not used in ports or subsequent games besides Contra 4.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: In one of the endings in Neo Contra, Jaguar cuts a giant robot with his katana with enough force, to also slice the planet in half, which explodes.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery:
    • Contra III does not allow the player to fight the True Final Boss or see more than a black screen with text for an ending until completing the game on the hardest setting. The Japanese version does allow the player to fight the final boss on Normal, but only shows a partial version of the ending.
    • Contra 4 also ends the game on Stage 7 on Easy mode, literally telling the player that they can't see the ending unless they beat it on Normal or Hard.
    • In Contra ReBirth, the real Final Boss cannot be fought if the difficulty setting is on Easy. Players get the same initial ending regardless of the difficulty setting, but going the extra mile awards the player with a bonus ending.
  • Embedded Precursor: Contra 4 features the NES versions of Contra and Super C as unlockable extras after completing a series of optional challenges.
  • The End... Or Is It?:
    • Brought up in the ending of the MSX version, which congratulates you for foiling Red Falcon, but is unsure as to whether the aliens are truly destroyed or not and urges that the matter be investigated before it's too late.
    • Complete Mission 6 in Shattered Soldier and Neo below an A rank, and the ending will show the True Final Boss is Not Quite Dead.
  • Epic Fail: In Hard Corps, the second stage features an airship in the distance launching a bunch of airborne mooks at you for a little bit. How is it defeated? Simple — it abruptly crashes into a sky rise building!
  • Everything's Better with Llamas: Stage 3 of Contra ReBirth has lots of robotic llamas that the player can use for platforming.
  • Evil Is Visceral: Gomeramos King, the final boss in the original Contra, is a giant beating heart. He's a recurring enemy throughout the series.
  • Evil Laugh: Colonel Bahamut in Hard Corps and Master Contra in Neo Contra. In the bad ending of Shattered Soldier, the Triumvirate does this when they destroy the Galuga Archipelago, saying that they now hold the world in the palm of their hand.
  • Expy:
    • The final boss in the arcade version of Super Contra, Emperor Devil Gava (a.k.a. the Red Falcon Commander himself), is based on Mad Emperor Asmodeus, the final boss of another Konami arcade game, Battlantis. Battlantis was directed by Hideyuki Tsujimoto, who was co-programmer in the original arcade version of Contra and later directed Super C, as well as Sunset Riders and Mystic Warriors.
    • The alien form of Emperor Devil Gava is based on the Xenomorph Queen from the Alien franchise, especially in his first appearance in Super C. Compare Gava's head from Super Contra, and that of the Queen. Both give birth to the other aliens, and are their leaders.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Colonel Bahamut from Contra: Hard Corps used to be a war hero until he turned against the Government. Hard Corps: Uprising is actually a prequel before his supposed Face–Heel Turn.
  • Fallen Hero:
    • Lance Bean, Player 2 in the original Contra, turns out to be the Blood Falcon Commander, the apparent Big Bad of Contra: Shattered Soldier (although he did go a little nuts toward the end, his dying confession reveals he was really a Well-Intentioned Extremist trying to fight the Government Conspiracy that was really behind the whole Alien War from the beginning.)
    • Lucia, player 2 in Shattered Soldier, ends up as a member of the Quirky Mini Boss Squad in Neo Contra, where she participates in a conspiracy to destroy the human race, and is fought and killed by the players.
    • Colonel Bahamut, the Big Bad from Hard Corps. In the prequel, Hard Corps: Uprising, he's the hero.
  • Gainaxing: Sheena from Hard Corps and Lucia from Shattered Soldier. Because of this, they were the only characters from the post-Contra III games included in Contra 4.
  • Great Offscreen War: Five years prior to the events of Shattered Soldier, Bill and Lance were involved in a mission which resulted in an ultra-magnetic weapon killing four fifths of the world's population, the apparent death of Lance, and Bill himself being blamed as the culprit. Despite this mission being the catalyst of the events in Shattered Soldier, the actual events are never revealed and only a single flashback of Bill holding a dying Lance is shown.
  • Guide Dang It!: Contra 3 has top-down shooting stages where you can rotate your character to aim. What the game doesn't tell you is that you can double tap L or R to rotate faster. This seemingly useless maneuver is extremely useful against the boss of Stage 5 on Hard difficulty when he starts to spin your character uncontrollably— double tapping rotating against the way the boss is forcing the player to spin will make aiming at the boss weakspot much less troublesome.
  • Happy Ending Override: All those Alien Wars you've been fighting throughout the entire series? As of Contra: Shattered Soldier, it turns out that the war was all part of a Government Conspiracy known as the Triumvirate, and that Lance had uncovered the truth by accident. After Bill was thought to have murdered his partner Lance and destroyed 80% of the world's population, Lance returns as a notorious terrorist leader trying to overthrow the Triumvirate and is the Disc-One Final Boss of the game.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The stages in Contra 4 are notoriously difficult because the player has to pay attention to threats on both the top and bottom screens, which is not helped by the number of enemies and their aggressiveness, nor the fact that the playable character is a One-Hit-Point Wonder. By comparison, the bosses are almost a cakewalk, since they all follow fairly predictable patterns and only have two or three attacks each.
  • Hard Mode Filler: Completing either NES game will restart the game on a harder difficulty and they can be played in countless loops until the player uses all of his/her continues. Surprisingly averted with the first arcade game, which ends on a single playthrough. The Japanese arcade version of Super Contra has a second loop not in the overseas release that is even harder than the "Very Hard" setting (except for the sole fact that continuing and having a second player join will cease to be possible once you reach it).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In one of the story branches in Hard Corps Colonel Bahamut uses the Alien Cell to power an orbital cannon on a Space Elevator, and your head after him. Destroying the cannon causes the entire top of the elevator to explode, and you perish along with it. The ending screen shows a memorial statue for your character.
  • Homing Projectile: The "H" weapon, introduced in Operation C, fires missiles that home in on enemies.
  • Humongous Mecha:
    • Contra III: The Alien Wars has Big Fuzz, a giant robotic skeleton complete with fire breath, homing Eye Beams, and timed bombs. It was re-introduced in Contra 4 with the fire breath as its sole attack.
    • Contra: Hard Corps has Powered Ninja Yokozuna, a giant blue robot boss with that ran faster than a train and stopped the train with its bare hands. The second boss of Shattered Soldier is an updated model named Yokozuna Jr., who does pretty much the same thing.
  • I Have Many Names: Thanks to the inconsistent localizations of the early titles, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, the original main characters, have many names from "Sgt. Bill 'Mad Dog' Ko" and "Corporal Lance 'Scorpion'", to "Jimbo" and "Sully". Additionally, the European computer ports of Gryzor (the original Contra) claimed that "Gryzor" was actually the surname of the main characters, making them "Bill and Lance Gryzor".
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Those helicopter pilots are unsung heroes. They can fly through hostile bases and jungles, and can cruise into alien lairs without trouble to pick up the heroes after a job well done. One helicopter even manages to fly through space. Shattered Soldier's airplane pilot also deserves a mention, as he nonchalantly gives the heroes a trip through space!
  • In Name Only: Contra Force for the NES is a localization of an unreleased-in-Japan Famicom game titled Arc Hound. The game has nothing to do with the rest of the Contra series, being set in present times with the Big Bad being a group of human terrorists instead of aliens. The opposite is the case with Hard Corps: Uprising where it's clearly an official prequel to Contra: Hard Corps for the Genesis despite not having Contra in the name. It is also a prequel to the original Contra.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The "Barrier" power-up makes the player invincible to enemy attacks for a short period of time.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: In Shattered Soldier, if the player doesn't have a high enough ranking when Stage 5 is completed, the player will get a Downer Ending where the island is destroyed by a Kill Sat, killing everyone including the heroes.
  • Jungle Japes: The first stage of the first game, 4, and Mission 5 of Shattered Soldier are set in the jungles of the Galuga Archipelago.
  • Karmic Death: In Shattered Soldier, as the Triumvirate were ready to use the Relic against Bill and Lucia, it ends up overwhelming and fusing with them, becoming the Final Boss.
  • Karma Houdini: In one of the endings of Hard Corps, Colonel Bahamut ends up escaping on a helicopter into the sunset after the destruction of the Alien Cell. Subverted, because his master plan hinged on that Alien Cell, but you destroyed it, so your action pretty much diminishes his chance of being a threat in the future.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Jaguar in Neo Contra. Though he uses guns too, his katana is enough to destroy a single machine. One of the endings in Neo Contra shows he slices the enemies with just Katana instead of guns. However, he won't use it in ReBirth.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Fire Gun in Super C has an extra-powerful charged shot that destroys most of the stronger enemies with one or two hits.
  • Konami Code: Didn't begin here, but most certainly popularized by these games (at least among American players, who are not as big Gradius fans as the Japanese were).
  • Leader Forms the Head: Subverted by the three Combining Mecha in Hard Corps. Each of them get to form the head for each of the boss' three forms.
  • Leitmotif: In Shattered Soldier, Lance has Lance Lullaby while the Triumvirate has Senator.
  • Life Meter: The Japanese version of Contra: (The) Hard Corps gets a 3-hit life meter. Players of other regions get stuck with being One Hit Point Wonders. Contra Return also have all characters possess life bars, unless you're playing the 'One Life Mode'.
  • Load-Bearing Boss:
    • The original Contra ends with the destruction of the alien heart, which causes the island the game took place on to explode in a spectacular fashion, with the heroes escaping by helicopter. The Amstrad CPC port, however, took this to downright sadistic levels by instead having the entire Earth explode and kill everyone after you take out the heart.
    • Contra III: The Alien Wars has the alien lair explode after the final boss dies, with the heroes very narrowly making it out by helicopter as they race the explosion upwards.
    • Contra: Hard Corps has this occur in nearly every ending, with the only exceptions being the We Can Rule Together Non Standard Game Over and the secret ending:
      • Rescue the research station, fight to the end: Destroying the Final Boss destroys the missile you were on for some reason, which ends up saving the world because said missile was carrying the Alien Cell which was going to be released into the atmosphere and kill off humanity.
      • Rescue the research station, surrender and fight later: Killing Colonel Bahamut after he mutates out of control causes the fortress the battle took place in to blow up and collapse, but the hero(es) manage to get away.
      • Chase Deadeye Joe, fight to the end: The alien lair is implied to be destroyed after the alien heart shattered, as the same flames from the above fortress ending appear as the protagonist(s) walks/walk off screen.
      • Chase Deadeye Joe, surrender and fight later: Destroying Big Magnum destroys the space station it was on, which takes Colonel Bahamut and the hero(es) along with it.
    • Once again happens at the end of Contra 4. Of course, destroying the brain of the now titanic Black Viper would end up destroying him completely. The fight took place in the beast's head, with the curvature of the Earth visible from the mouth opening. After a few flashes of white, the "room" vanishes completely, simply leaving just the helicopter the hero hangs onto and said view of the Earth.
  • Lone Wolf Boss: Mystery G in Neo Contra. He has no connection to the enemy group of the same name, he's only there to test Bill Rizer to see if he's the ultimate soldier. He also pulls a Heroic Sacrifice, depending on your performance throughout the game.
  • Long Song, Short Scene:
    • Contra: Hard Corps includes in its sound test a BGM titled "Jurassic Dope." This tune is played in only two areas of the game. One is nothing but a very brief dialogue sequence. The other instance is a second dialogue sequence, this one with a whopping one dialogue box. The tune itself is a minute and a half in length. Unless you're an extremely slow reader, you won't be hearing the whole thing in-game.
    • The worst offender is "Critical Moment of Contra", a 2-minute tune played during a 30-second boss battle.
    • For some reason, in the arcade version of Super Contra, "Hotter than Hell" plays during the very short penultimate boss battle instead of during the Final Boss battle, which uses the same music as the main stage. And the "Game Clear Jingle" is misplaced, playing before the final boss instead of after.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Low Ammo 2 and Pacifism 4 challenges in Contra 4 basically come down to "Did a running enemy spawn on the same platform as me?"
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Occurs in Contra III, and your character is right in the thick of it. Lots of missile also appear in Stage 3 in Contra ReBirth, including a miniboss who is upside-down on a missile and a boss which is a giant missile shooting smaller missiles.
  • Male Gaze: Pheromone Contra/Lucia's appearance in Neo Contra has several fanservice-filled shots.
  • Marathon Level: The final stage in the first arcade game is one long side-scrolling level that consists of various environments such as a snow-covered mountain, an energy plant, a hangar and the alien's nest. In the NES and MSX versions, these particular areas were split into their own separate stages.
  • Market-Based Title:
    • In Japan, Operation C is known as Contra (although spelled in katakana instead of the kanji used in the arcade and Famicom versions), Contra III: The Alien Wars is known as Contra Spirits, Contra: Hard Corps is known as Contra: The Hardcore, Contra: Shattered Soldier is known as Shin Contra, Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX is known as Contra: Hard Spirits, and Contra 4 is known as Contra: Dual Spirits. Super Contra (which arcade version is known as Super Contra: Alien no Gyakushuunote ) was shortened to Super C on the American NES, although the arcade version kept its full title outside Japan (but without the Japanese version's subtitle). Contra Force would've been known in Japan as Arc Hound had the Famicom version actually been released.
    • Prior to Contra: Legacy of War, the series was known as Gryzor or Probotector in PAL territories, depending on the platform. Specifically, Gryzor was the title used for the first arcade game (the second game kept the Super Contra name) and the home computer ports released by Ocean Software, while Probotector was used for the console versions which replaced the human characters with robots.note 
  • Meaningful Name: The Japanese title of Shattered Soldier is to reveal the truth behind the events of Contra series. Hence the name Shin Contranote .
  • Multiple Endings:
    • Contra: Hard Corps has five possible endings depending on the character's choices in the game (including a joke ending).
    • In Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, the type of ending you receive depends on how well you play (i.e. continues used, number of lives lost, and non-respawning targets destroyed in each stage).
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Extremely buff Protagonists will die if hit by one bullet.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups: In Contra 4 and the arcade version of Super Contra, your weapon can be upgraded to a second level, but the extra power-up is lost if the player changes weapons. This also applies to the "Rapid Bullets" power-up in the two NES games, in which the increased bullet speed is lost when the player changes weapon. Averted in the arcade version of the original game, in which the Rapid Bullets power-up is still in effect after changing weapons (presumably due to the fact there are only two Rapid Bullets power-ups in the entire game in that version and they can only be acquired when the player is wielding the default gun).
  • Nintendo Hard: Every single entry in the series. Just try beating the first game without using the Konami code. Super Contra (specifically the arcade version), Contra: Hard Corps, and Contra 4 are considered the hardest of them all. When Hard Corps was released in Japan, they added a health bar and gave players unlimited continues.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bill and Lance, especially in the original game, are obvious pastiches of '80s movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Dare to compare! A poster for Contra 4 included in Nintendo Power followed suit by depicting "newcomers" Mad Dog and Scorpion as pastiches of Wesley Snipes and Vin Diesel.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "hit rate" in Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra on the top of the screen is actually a destruction rate of every unique (i.e. non respawnable) enemy and object in each stage.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: The player character dies in one hit in every game except the MSX2 port of the first Contra and the Japanese version of Contra: Hard Corps. Oddly, Konami took this feature out of the overseas versions of the game, feeling it would water the challenge down too much.
  • One-Man Army: Alien invasion? Global terrorist force? Just send one or two badass soldiers to do the cleanup job. Works everytime. Referred in Contra: Hard Corps biography, in which Sheena Etranzi has a reputation of being a one-woman army.
  • Pacifist Run: Some of the challenges in Contra 4 strip you of all weapons.
  • Point of No Continues:
    • In the arcade version of the original Contra, you can only continue up to thrice per playthrough! But depending of the machine's DIP switch settings, the arcade versions of Super Contra can allow you to do that up to 5 times per playthrough.
    • You can't continue nor can a second player join in once you reach the "Extremely Hard" second loop in the Japanese arcade version of Super Contra; if you clear the final stage again or lose all your lives at this point, your game will be completely over and the machine will return to attract mode!
    • Losing all your lives in the NES/Famicom versions of the first two titles after continuing for a third time will cause your game to be truly over, so use the continuous play feature wisely in order to avoid trouble!
  • Poison Mushroom: Area 2 of Contra ReBirth has a Normal Gun power-up on Hard Mode that changes your weapon to your default pea shooter.
  • Polygon Ceiling: Legacy of War had a lot of trouble adapting the run and gun gameplay into the third dimension, and hit its head pretty hard against it as a result. There is a decent amount of Camera Screw, the difficulty is all over the place, and perhaps most infamously, the game precedes the advent of the DualShock so it has no twin stick moving and aiming (to say nothing of the Saturn version, a console that never even got that functionality to start with). Instead, you have to awkwardly switch between aiming and strafing modes, which many players found extremely clunky and too hard to get used to. It did admirably avoid the pitfall of adapting its art style into the third dimension, instead opting for a hybrid method of old and new with a dose of Sprite/Polygon Mix.
  • Power-Up Letdown:
    • In most games, when you have too many shots on screen to fire a full spread, the Spread Gun will instead fire partial spreads or single bullets to keep your firing rate consistent. It does not do this in Super C (arcade version only), turning the Spread Gun from a Game-Breaker into an annoyance as you have to wait for your previous shots to clear the screen before you can fire again. The "upgrade" makes it worse: it fires five shots per spread instead of three, and your shots-on-screen are increased from nine to ten, which would be good in any other game, but here it means you can only have two spreads on screen instead of three. In the fast-paced One-Hit-Point Wonder world of Contra, this can be the difference between life and death.
    • Laser in the NES games. One-Hit Polykill doesn't matter so much when enemies spawn from multiple angles, and One Bullet at a Time most certainly doesn't help either. This is in contrast to the arcade games, in which it fires a continuous beam with unlimited range.
  • Pun: Contra 4 has the "over the shoulder soldier folder," a most "terrible tumbler" which is just a boulder.
  • Pun-Based Title: Contra: Hard Corps, which is a play on the word "hardcore".
  • Punny Name: The localizations of the early installments were filled with these. For example, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean were renamed "Sgt. Bill Ko" (as in "Sgt. Bilko") and "Corporal Lance" (an inversion of "Lance Corporal") respectively in the manual for Super C.
  • Racing the Train: One of the robotic bosses of Contra: Hard Corps and Contra: Shattered Soldier makes his entrance by outrunning the train you're on, pushes it to a stop, lifts the end of it, then climbs on top. This turns out to be a bad idea in the end- upon defeat, he falls backwards off the front of the train, and gets hit by it! In Contra: Shattered Soldier, an Expy of said boss does the exact same thing, except that you're on a small train carriage which the boss lifts off the ground with ease.
  • Rated M for Manly: In spite of being able to play as female characters (Sheena, Lucia, Tsugu-Min/Brownie, Krystal, Sayuri, Ricci, Sally), this game series demands you to be as manly as hell (Shoot everything that can be shot) to attain victory.
  • Recurring Boss:
    • The boss of the first stage in the original Contra, a wall protected by a sniper and two cannons, reappears as a sub-boss in later Contra games.
    • The Final Boss of the original Contra is named "Emperor Demon-Producing Heart Gomeramothking"note  (according to the Japanese versions, don't ask). It's a giant alien heart with four alien egg chambers that spawns infinite buggers.
    • "Emperor Devil Gava"note  , the Final Boss in the arcade version of Super Contra, looks like a skeletal dragon with two skeletal "snakes" for arms.
    • "Shadow Beast Kimkoh"note , the final boss of Super C for the NES, an alien with a woman's face inside its mouth. It comes back as a boss in Contra III and subsequent games. There are lots of little ones in ReBirth.
    • "Slave Beast Taka"note  is a giant mutated tortoise who serves as the first boss in Contra III (he was renamed Kimkoh in the American version for reason). In Contra: Shattered Soldier, he appears again, but this time with a deformed human face on his behind.
    • "Great Awakening Robo Big Fuzz"note  (or "Robo-Corpse"), the third boss of Contra III, is a skeleton-like zombie robot who reappears in Contra 4.
    • The Metal Alien/"Slave Hawk" (which resembles the winged Queen Alien from Aliens) from the arcade version of Super Contra returns in the final stage of Contra III. It was planned to be included in IV, but was ultimately scrapped.
    • Super Power Robot Yokozuna, who first appears in Hard Corps, and a later version Yokozuna Jr. appears in Shattered Soldier. Both battles against it are Traintop Battles, and both of them demonstrate the ability to stop a train.
    • The Magnus series of tanks (Magnus in Super C, Magnus Mk. II in Contra III, Magnus Mk. IV in Shattered Soldier, Magnus Mk. V in Neo Contra).
  • Recycled Title: In Japan, Operation C was simply titled Contra (but spelled in kana instead of kanji). The modified versions of Contra for the NES, Operation C, and Contra: Hard Corps that were released in Europe were all simply titled Probotector.
  • Reformulated Game: The MSX2 port features a Life Meter, Bill Rizer only, a Rear Gun instead of a Spread Gun, ten additional levels, the Vital Alien Organ Post-Final Boss, and no continues.
  • Ret-Canon: Contra 4 implements elements of the old American continuity (before Shattered Soldier reverted the continuity to keep it consistent with the Japanese version). The two new heroes, Mad Dog and Scorpion, take their names from Bill and Lance's old nicknames from the American localization of the NES Contra, while the alien Black Viper was originally the supposed antagonist of Operation C (in the Japanese version it was an unnamed nation that was using an alien cell to develop weapons). Contra 4 retcons the events of Operation C so that it was a previous mission of Mad Dog and Scorpion against Black Viper in an attempt to explain away the sudden appearance of these "new" characters.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: The European version of Super C for the NES is titled Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces.
  • Roboteching: Yokozuna Jr. has the ability to morph into a jet in Shattered Soldier.
  • Robot Soldier: The European version of the game was renamed to Probotector and the human sprites where changed to robots (including the protagonists) and aliens.
  • Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: In the Amstrad CPC version, you've saved the Earth and stopped the alien invasion... but killing the alien heart triggers a self-destruct mechanism and causes the Earth to explode anyway. How sad...
  • Route Boss: Hard Corps on the Sega Genesis does this extensively, being a Boss Game. After fighting the first stage boss, you're presented with a choice to either pursue them or ignore them to provide backup to a research station being attacked, both of which have their own boss fight. Later on, in the fourth stage, your player gets caught in an ambush, and you can choose to either surrender peacefully or fight back. What makes this stand out is that both choices end up influencing the final stage route, alongside what Final Boss and ending you get. Spoilers ahead:
    • Save Research Station + Fight Back: The team takes an overseas route to Colonel Bahamut's base, and his defeat in battle causes him to launch a missile containing the Alien Cell he stole. This prompts the team to destroy the missile before it can detonate. The Final Boss is a mutated Alien Cell.
    • Save Research Station + Surrender: The team is detained aboard one of Bahamut's trains, but Deadeye Joe (the boss from Stage 1) busts you out, wanting a proper fight. The team infiltrates the base, prompting Bahamut to inject himself with the Alien Cell as the final boss (and it doesn't end well for him).
    • Pursue Deadeye Joe + Fight Back: The Alien Cell goes out of control and engulfs Bahamut's base, prompting a small Enemy Mine between them as they move to kill the Alien Cell. Bahamut manages to escape in the commotion.
    • Pursue Deadeye Joe + Surrender: Bahamut uses the Alien Cell to create Big Magnum, a powerful superweapon positioned high above the Earth. The team destroys the weapon, which also takes their lives when the weapon detonates. The team is awarded post-humous medals of bravery for their deeds.
  • Rule of Cool:
    • In Contra III, what's the best way to destroy a giant flying battleship? Chase it with motorcycles, and then cling to a cruise missile that's heading for the ship! And then leap from missile to missile in the salvo as they impact uselessly on the alien's shield. Considering that you've mostly been running along the ground, climbing walls, and riding tanks so far, it's an unusually... brazen choice of attack.
    • There's no way in hell that you can jump from missile to missile like in Stage 4 in The Alien Wars But damn, is it cool?!
  • Say My Name: In Neo Contra, after Bill and Jaguar defeat Lucia/Pheromone Contra: "LUCIIAAAAAA!!!!!!"
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The arcade version of the second game starts off rather hard, gets harder in the second level, eases up in Stage 3, then has another Difficulty Spike on Stages 4 and 5.
  • Schrödinger's Gun:
    • In Hard Corps, Colonel Bahamut's plan for the Alien Cell depends on which path you take through the game. Either he wants to use it to power a Kill Sat, turn it into a bio-weapon, merge with it, or load it on a missile and launch it into civilization.
    • From the same game, Bahamut's base is either right next to your current location, a train ride away in the jungle, or a boat ride away on an island.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Contra ReBirth has several references to other Konami games. Chief Salamander and his Neo Salamander Force are named after the Konami game Salamander, with the Zelos Force being a reference to that game. Plissken, the alien lizardman, is possibly named after Iroquois Pliskin, Solid Snake's alias in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (which in turn is a reference to Snake Plissken, the anti-hero from Escape from New York). And the Shizuoka ruins that Stage 4 of the game takes place at is a reference to Silent Hill (Shizuoka means "silent hill" in Japanese).
    • The aliens in the series are a homage to the Alien movies. Super C made the Excuse Plot in the manual look as if the Aliens from the movie invaded the Contra world, with Bill witnessing that a strange alien bursted out of the chest of the zombified soldier he just shot.
    • The soundtrack for Alien Wars lists Stage 3's name as Neo Kobe Steel Factory. The level also ends with a fight against several skeletal robots resembling Snatchers (and Terminators by proxy).
    • A boss in Hard Corps is a three part Combining Mecha and its battle theme is titled "GTR Attack", referencing Getter Robo.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming:
    • The original Contra duo, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, are named after four actors who appeared in Aliens: specifically Bill Paxton and Paul Reiser for the former; and Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn for the latter. The different spellings used for the surnames, obviously the result of a clueless translator, does obscure the reference a bit.
    • The reptilian Plissken in Contra ReBirth sometimes prefers to be called "Newt", a reference to a character who appears in the second Alien movie.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Bill's response to Master Contra claiming to be the ultimate form of Bill Rizer is this:
    Bill: No, you're a joke. You're just a heap of metal with an inflated ego.
  • SkeleBot 9000: Big Fuzz from III and IV resembles a huge skeletal robot akin to a Terminator skeleton, to the point where his Fan Nickname is "Robo-Corpse".
  • Sky Face: The opening demo for Contra III shows Red Falcon's face looming over a destroyed city.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Applies to the few characters who wear shirts at all. Probably the only character to wear a shirt with sleeves is Ray from Hard Corps.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Individual games run the gamut from grim, post-apocalyptic atmospheres (Contra III, Shattered Soldier) to over-the-top Summer Blockbuster-esque antics (Hard Corps, Neo Contra).
  • Spectacular Spinning: The main characters perform somersaults whenever they jump.
  • Spread Shot: One of the weapons the player can acquire is the Spread Gun, which fires multiple bullets in a wide area.
  • Stealth Pun: The name of Contra: Hard Corps's final boss theme is Last Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen's nickname is "The Boss." Thus, the song can be called Final Boss.
  • The Stinger:
    • If you beat Contra ReBirth on the Normal difficulty or higher, you'll get a scene after the credits revealing that Plissken was Chief Salamander, the game's Big Bad, all along, and it's implied that BR-W9 makes a Face–Heel Turn as well (that, or Plissken makes a Heel–Face Turn).
    • The Famicom version of Contra also had a secret stinger by holding SELECT and START during the end credits, foreshadowing Red Falcon's eventual return.

      Do you think that
      with this being done,
      you have destroyed Red Falcon?
      We lost our frontline base on Earth;
      but we are already taking the next step.

      Red Falcon will be
      eternally immortal...
  • Story Branching: In Contra: Hard Corps, at the end of the first stage you have the choice of either going after Deadeye Joe or saving the alien cell. At this point, the only impact it has on the game is the second stage (which depends on the choice you make) and whether or not Deadeye Joe appears at the end of the fourth stage. Afterwards, you have the choice of surrendering or fighting to the end. This choice, along with the choice at the beginning of the game, determines how the plot unfolds for the rest of the game. Also, there's a secret story path that doesn't regard the first decision, and it is hidden in the third stage.
  • Stupid Surrender: At one point in Hard Corps, the One-Man Army player gets surrounded by thirteen regular soldiers with their guns trained on you. The very same mooks that you've been mowing down in the dozens if you chose to save the research facility. You're then told that the situation is hopeless and you must surrender. You may choose to surrender (following this trope) or fight it out (subverting it, although you fight against something completely different).
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Although your character is killed by anything that isn't a floor, wall, ceiling, friendly, or a power-up, this does not apply to water. In the first game, you could even stay in the water INDEFINITELY with your head submerged! Averted in the Dolled-Up Installment, Contra Force, where the characters all have Super Drowning Skills and will drown instantly in Stage 2; and in Shattered Soldier, where you die if you drop into water.
  • Super Title 64 Advance:
    • The GBA port of Contra III is simply called Contra Advance.
    • In Europe, Super C became Probotector II and Contra III became Super Probotector. However, the Game Boy and Mega Drive installments are both simply titled Probotector.
    • In Japan, Contra 4 is known as Contra: Dual Spirits.
  • Theme Naming: The members of the Triumvirate in Shattered Soldier (Gaius, Nero and Commodus) are named after three of the most infamous Roman emperors (you may know Gaius better as Caligula).
  • Timed Mission:
    • In the arcade version of the original Contra, the first "3D maze" stage needs to be completed in seventy seconds and the second one in 110 seconds. Since the maze stages don't feature infinitely respawning enemies, the timer is a contrivance to keep the game from sitting in the same place (much like how the bosses in Gradius will eventually self-destruct just in case a player could find a safe spot and walk away from the arcade machine). As such, the NES version discards the timer, yet the Commodore 64 version is punitive, giving only forty and fifty-five seconds respectively.
    • The last part of stage 6 in Neo Contra gives you even more punitive 30 seconds to complete. Afterwards, if the time runs out, the game will be over immediately even you have multiples of remaining lives!
  • Traintop Battle:
    • Contra: Hard Corps has a stage taking place on a military train, featuring two mid-boss battles and culminating in a fight with Powered Ninja Yokozuna, all on its roof.
    • Contra: Shattered Soldier has a level that involves chasing a train down on motorcycles, attacking the weaponized caboose, and heading to the engine. At which point the Yokozuna Jr. mecha attacks the train, leaving the player to wonder why our One-Hit-Point Wonder heroes had to bother.
  • True Final Boss:
  • Underwater Boss Battle: The Man-Faced Fishnote  in Shattered Soldier. Try not drop yourself into water.
  • The Unfought:
    • One of four main story paths in Contra: Hard Corps ends with an outbreak of alien organic matter, providing a distraction for the main antagonist, Colonel Bahamut, to escape to fight another day.
    • Chief Salamander in Contra ReBirth. Justified for plot twisting reasons.
    • The Triumvirate in Shattered Soldier, unless you count the Relic of Moirai merging with the Triumvirate and overwhelming them.
  • The Unseen:
    • General Hal, the commanding officer of the GX Army, is only mentioned in the (Japanese) backstory for Super C and never actually appears in the game (since he is presumably killed before the events of the game). He makes an appearance in Contra 3D as one of Bill and Lance's radio contacts.
    • The Head of Intelligence, which the C-Force in Contra Force is tasked with protecting, doesn't get to appear at all.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Especially prominent in the arcade games. As mentioned above, dying in most of the games reduces your gun to a pea shooter, and certain bosses (e.g. the Stage 4 boss of the original), increase in difficulty/cheapness the longer the fight drags on. In some of the later Contra games starting from Contra III, it's less severe.
  • Urban Ruins: The first level of Contra III: The Alien Wars takes place in a human city which is in the midst of being destroyed by an alien invasion.
  • Vertical Kidnapping: The Gigafly enemies in III, 4, and Shattered Soldier don't kill you on contact, but grab onto the player and attempt to "kidnap" them off the top of the screen (which will be lethal). To avoid dying, the player simply needs to kill them.
  • Very High Velocity Rounds: Your bullets move much, much faster than most anything shot at you does... at least anything shot at you by a Mook. Bosses are a different story.
  • We Can Rule Together: In one of the paths, Colonel Bahamut asks you to join him in Contra: Hard Corps. Choose "Yes" will net you a Non-Standard Game Over ending where your character becomes his top enforcer. Choosing "No", in which player refuses, will start a Boss Battle instead. In Probotector, you instead fight Colonel Bahamut who never asked you to join him in the European version.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Mystery G in Neo Contra. Subverted because he was the true Bill Rizer all along.
  • Wham Episode:
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The early Contra games had the main player character and several enemy characters changed into robots when localized for Europe for this reason.
  • "What Now?" Ending: At the end of Contra Force, Fox is still missing, and Burns suspects someone is stalking him.
  • A Winner Is You:
    • The NES version of the original Contra had an exploding island and then said simply:
    • The ending of Contra III: The Alien Wars is similar; the game merely addresses you, the player, for your efforts, and for completing the game in Hard difficulty.
  • World of Badass: It's about badass muscular soldiers fighting alien invasions and terrorist organizations. It's especially present in Neo.
  • Worthy Opponent: Deadeye Joe considers the player this in Hard Corps, to the point that in one route, he breaks the player out of their cell and gives them back your/their weapons so that he can be the one to defeat you.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: The Red Falcon aliens are almost blatant rip-offs of the Xenomorphs, from the very first one having an elongated head with exposed teeth, to the humanoid warrior types that look like biomechanical monsters, to the tiny, spider-shaped Facehugger enemies that attack in the final stage.
  • "YEAH!" Shot: The true ending of Contra: Shattered Soldier has this, though the characters are shown jumping toward the crowd instead of the camera and they don't really shout "YEAH!"
  • You Don't Look Like You: Contra Return features some characters from Contra: Hard Corps, but only Fang looks remotely like he was in the original. Ray is now a hooded gunner akin to a white Reaper, Sheena is a pigtailed young Genki Girl (she later gets an adult form that looks a lot more like her original self). Averted with those from original Contra; Bill and Lance still retained their original Schwarzenegger-Stallone lookalike appearance.
  • Zeerust: For a series set during the 27th century, the technology used the by characters look way too modern by late 1980s/early '90s standard. This is probably the reason why the American version of the storyline took place in the present until Contra III. Averted in Contra: Evolution (Remake of the Famicom version of Contra) which all versions uses the Japanese continuity.

Alternative Title(s): Contra Shattered Soldier, Neo Contra, Contra Hard Corps, Contra III The Alien Wars, Contra 4, Super C, Contra Legacy Of War, Contra Rogue Corps


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