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File:Contral (logo).png

"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)
  • Super Contra (Arcade, released as Super C on the NES)
  • Operation C (Game Boy)
  • Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES/GB, released as Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX on the GBA)
  • 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 Way Forward Technologies)
  • Contra ReBirth (Wii Ware)
  • Hard Corps: Uprising (PSN and Xbox Live Arcade)

Known as Gryzor or Probotector to rightpondians.

Tropes used in Contra (video game series) include:
  • Advertised Extra: That robot spider from Super C. It's on the cover, it's mentioned 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.
  • After the End: "Calamity on a global scale. The Earth after environmental collapse". - Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • 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).
    • Also, you wouldn't know that Contra: Hard Corps took place during the holiday season if you haven't looked at the manual.
  • Always Save the Girl: At the beginning of Contra ReBirth Stage 2, the heroes choose to jump into the mecha's head (knocking it off) in order to save a little girl, rather than just shooting it.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Brad Fang's gun-arm changes sides if he faces left.
  • Bait and Switch Boss: The Stage 2 boss in Contra 4, and Slave Beast Taka (the Stage 1 boss) in Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • Big Badass Wolf: Brad Fang.
  • Boss Game: Contra: Hard Corps and Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerize: 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 Contra: Shattered Soldier. The Probotector robot later appeared as an easter egg in Contra 4. The German "indexing" of the original Contra still holds until today and will only be reconsidered in 2014.
    • 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" [1], is a sentient brain with one eye.
    • As it's connected to Emperor Devil Gava [2], 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.
  • 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 shrunken.
  • The Cameo: Sparkster of the Rocket Knight Adventures appears, as a shadowy figure, in the Secret Ending of Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • 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 Contra: Shattered Soldier. In the case of Contra Force, it's arguably justified since that was never meant to be a Contra game to begin with.
  • Car Fu: Used by the third Mini Boss in Contra: Hard Corps. It's pathetically easy to avoid as compared to his Eye Beams, though.
  • Chain-Reaction Destruction: It happens commonly throughout the series.
  • Classic Cheat Code: Contra wasn't the first game to use the classic Konami Code (that honor goes to Gradius), but this game was the one that made it popular in North America.
  • Cloning Blues/Tomato in the Mirror: Bill Rizer in Neo Contra.
  • 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.
  • Combining Mecha: One of the stages in Contra: 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 (a Getter Robo??) before attempting to merge one last time and exploding spectacularly instead.
  • 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 only Contra 4 reverting back to the "peashooter"-style Normal Gun from the arcade and NES games), while Contra III and Contra: 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). Averted in Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, which gave the player fixed weapon configurations.
  • Cool Shades: Brad Fang in Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Copycat Cover:
  • Cores and Turrets Boss: This series has tons of them.
  • Cosmic Horror: The Relic of Morai in Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • Cranium Ride: You can do that a in some sections in Contra ReBirth.
  • Crosshair Aware: INVERTED in Contra: 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 Contra: 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).
  • Cyber Cyclops: A popular trait for robotic enemies, as well as two heroes.
  • 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.
    • The game itself, though insanely difficult, is very fast-paced in nature and still became a successful franchise of Konami's.
  • 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.
    • Also, 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 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 no continues. The western version ends the game after one playthrough.
  • Difficulty Spike: Happens in the later half of many of the games.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: Numerous platforms exhibit that kind of behavior in the series.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Contra Force was derived from an unreleased Famicom game titled Arc Hound.
  • Dragon Their Feet: One of the possible path in Contra: 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. Thankfully, he's really easy for a Contra mini-boss.
  • Dub Name Change: Bill Rizer and Lance Bean were given the punny names of "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 extra palette swaps of Bill and Lance, and "Jimbo" and "Sully" for their Contra III renditions).
    • 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 all 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".
  • 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 allows 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.
  • Elevator Action Sequence
  • 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 of the World as We Know It: Winning in the Amstrad CPC version.
  • Epic Fail: In Contra: 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.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: The main characters love to do somersaults.
  • Evil Is Visceral: One of the recurring bosses is a gigantic beating heart. More generally, pretty much anything to do with aliens is this.
  • Expy: The final boss in the arcade version of Super Contra 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 Contra, as well as Sunset Riders and Mystic Warriors.
    • The brain boss of Contra III also resembles the Golem from Salamander.
    • In Contra ReBirth, the Contra commander looks like Che Guevara, and Brownie the Robot Girl looks suspiciously like Drossel Von Flugel from Fireball.
  • Face Heel Turn: Colonel Bahamut from Contra: Hard Corps used to be a war hero until he turned against the Government. Hard Corpd: Uprising is actually a prequel before his 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).
    • Likewise, Lucia, Player 2 in Contra: Shattered Soldier, ends up as a member of the Quirky Miniboss 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 Contra: Hard Corps. In the prequel Hard Corps: Uprising, he's the hero.
  • Five-Bad Band: In Neo Contra:
  • Flash of Pain: From Contra 3 onward.
  • Four Is Death: Neo Contra takes place in A.D.4444 featuring a four elite. Not to mention Contra 4, which features the four shirtless heroes Bill, Lance, Mad Dog, and Scorpion.
    • Contra 4's Challenge Mode also consists of forty challenges, with bonuses unlocked after completing multiples of four.
  • Gainaxing: Sheena from Contra: Hard Corps and Lucia from Contra: Shattered Soldier. Not surprisingly, they were the only characters from the post-Contra III games included in Contra 4 due to their "assets".
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: The Relic of Moirai in Contra: Shattered Soldier. Also, Shadow Beast Kimkoh in its first appearance in the NES version of Super C.
  • Giggling Villain: The True Final Boss of Contra: ReBirth.
  • 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 their continues. Surprisingly averted with the first arcade game, which ends on a single loop. 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 (if only for the sole fact that there are no continues).
  • Helicopter Blender:
    • One of the bosses in Contra: Hard Corps, a transforming mecha with a helicopter form.
    • Also, one of the bosses in Contra: Shattered Soldier.
    • Averted in Neo Contra, where the heroes run nonchalantly and can even dodge-roll atop active helicopter blades.
  • High Speed Battle: Stage 4 of Contra III, Stage 5 of Contra 4.
  • Humongous Mecha: Many of the games had one:
    • 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 Contra: 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 manages to fly through space. Contra: Shattered Soldier's airplane pilot also deserves a mention, as he also flies 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.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: Borderline and done deliberately in Contra ReBirth.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The "Barrier" power-up in most games.
  • It's a Wonderful Failure: In Contra: Shattered Soldier, if the player doesn't have a high enough ranking when Mission 5 is completed, the player will get a Downer Ending where the island is destroyed by a Kill Sat, killing everyone including the heroes.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Marathon Level: The final four stages in the original arcade game is set in one extra-long level, with the changes in backgrounds and music being the only cues that you've reached the next stage. In the NES and MSX2 versions, the game lets you know when you've reached a new stage,
  • 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 Hard Corps, 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 was shortened to Super C on the American NES, even though the arcade version kept its full title for its western release. Contra Force would've been known in Japan as Arc Hound had the Famicom version actually been released.
    • The arcade version of Contra was retitled Gryzor in Europe, while oddly enough the arcade version of Super Contra kept its original title for its European release. The European versions of the early console games were retitled Probotector and had the human characters replaced with robots. This was done so that the games could be sold to children in Germany without any problem due to the country's strict censorship laws. This lasted until Contra: Legacy of War, in which all further European releases were identical to their American counterparts.
  • Meaningful Name: Brad Fang, the wolfman in Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Mission Pack Sequel: The NES version of Super C is this to the original Contra, while Neo Contra runs on a modified Contra: Shattered Soldier engine.
  • Mooks: The recurring running grunts from the original game.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: One fight in Contra: Hard Corps is against a series of enemies from the previous stage combined in a machine. One of them turns out to be a harmless walking flower that drops some powerups, then leaves.
  • Multiple Endings: Contra: Hard Corps has five possible endings depending on the character's choices in the game (including a joke ending).
    • In Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, the type of ending you receive depends on how well you play (e.g. 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 the arcade Super Contra and Contra 4, 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).
  • Naked on Arrival: Bill in Contra ReBirth.
  • Nintendo Hard: Every entry in the series.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bill and Lance, especially in the original game, are obvious pastiches of '80s movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
    • 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.
  • One-Hit Kill
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: 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
  • One-Winged Angel
  • Outrun the Fireball: The end of Contra III and Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • Pacifist Run: Some of the challenges in Contra 4, which strip you of all weapons.
  • Painfully-Slow Projectile
  • Poison Mushroom: Area 2 of Contra ReBirth has a Normal Gun power-up on Hard mode (read: changes your weapon to your default pea shooter).
  • 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 Contra (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.
  • Projectile Platforms: The missile-jumping level in Contra III.
  • Pun-Based Title: Contra: Hard Corps, which is a play on the word "hardcore". Unfortunately, this pun isn't so obvious on people who mispronounce the word "corps" as "corpse".
  • 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.
  • Rated "M" for Manly
  • 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"[3] (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"[4] , the Final Boss in the arcade version of Super Contra, looks like a skeletal dragon with two skeletal "snakes" for arms.
    • "Shadow Beast Kimkoh"[5], 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. There are lots of little ones in Contra ReBirth.
    • "Slave Beast Taka"[6] 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"[7] (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.
    • The Magnus series of tanks (Magnus in Super C, Magnus Mk. II in Contra III, Magnus Mk. IV in Contra: Shattered Soldier, Magnus Mk. V in Neo Contra).
    • A list of them can be found here.
  • Recurring Riff: The "Stage Clear" riff from the first game and the "Game Over" riff from Contra III.
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The (in)famous missile-jumping sequence in the end of Stage 4 in Contra III: The Alien Wars.
    • Meanwhile, Neo Contra shamelessly does its best to top that bit. The opening scene alone includes riding ballistic missiles, outrunning explosions, a giant robot, and dinosaur riders, arguably reaching the pinnacle of audacity when the new Player 2 character (Jaguar the black samurai) slices a missile in half by riding a plane into it with his sword raised. The actual game itself isn't very different. As above, players seem divided about whether it's ridiculously fun, or just ridiculous.
    • Even the much-maligned Contra Force gets in on this. One level features the player fighting his way through an enormous transport airplane in the air, then jumping on to the wing of a nearby A-10 ground attack aircraft while dodging missiles, then jumping to another transport.
    • Stage 4 of Contra 4 has the player scaling the launch platform of a giant missile, fighting a giant robot clinging to its side as it takes to the air, grappling the warhead as it detaches from the first stage, leaping between handholds and shooting down projectiles as it barrels through the air, dodging the flames of its misfiring engines as it up-ends, and finally riding it harmlessly as it smashes through a high-rise building and buries itself in the earth.
    • The first stage of Contra ReBirth is a space station that is brought down by a Giant Space Flea From Nowhere. This becomes the stage boss, which the player fights while air-surfing on the space station's wreckage during atmospheric reentry.
    • Hard Corps: Uprising has a hilarious or awesome (or both) part in one mission which involves climbing an elevator shaft on missiles.
  • Ret Canon: Contra 4 features two new characters named "Mad Dog" and "Scorpion", which were the names given to Bill and Lance in the American NES version of Contra. The new, distinct Mad Dog and Scorpion are described as the heroes of Operation C, essentially putting the apocryphal aliases of two existing characters to use as the names of two new characters, as well as retconning the plot of Operation C.
  • Revenge of the Sequel: The arcade version of Super Contra bore the tagline Alien no Gyakushu in Japan, which literally means "The Alien's Counterattack" or "The Aliens Strikes Back". Similarly, the European version of Super C for the NES is titled Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces.
  • Riding the Bomb
  • Robot Girl: Lucia. BR-W9.
  • Savage Setpiece: The apatosaurus in Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Schizophrenic Difficulty: The arcade version of the second game starts off rather hard, gets harder in the second level, eases up in level 3, then has another Difficulty Spike on levels 4 and 5.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: In Contra: 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.
  • Score Screen
  • Sentry Gun: The series is filled with them.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Super Contra (especially the arcade version) and Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Sequential Boss: The battle with Lance, and most of Mission 6, in Contra: Shattered Soldier. Also, the Takedder robot from the Sea Struggle stage in Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Stage 5 of Contra III.
  • Shout-Out: In Contra ReBirth, Colonel Salamander is named after the Konami game Salamander, a spin-off of Gradius. Also, the name of the lizard man, Plissken, is obviously a homage to Solid Snake (Iroquis Pliskin), and both are a reference to Snake Plissken from Escape from New York and Escape From L.A..
    • And a lot of the aliens in the series are a homage to Ellen Ripley's Alien movies.
  • 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.
    • Referring to the same film, the reptilian Plissken in Contra ReBirth sometimes prefers to be called "Newt".
  • 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 Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness: Individual games run the gamut from grim, post-apocalyptic atmospheres (Contra III, Contra: Shattered Soldier) to over-the-top Summer Blockbuster-esque antics (Contra: Hard Corps, Neo Contra).
  • Smart Bomb: The Hyper Shells in Super Contra (which are present only in the arcade version and could only be used in overhead stages) and the bombs in Contra III and Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: Present in the series. For an example, Stage 7 of the NES version.
  • Spike Balls of Doom: A few bosses in Contra: Hard Corps use these.
  • Spread Shot: One of the most famous examples of it, especially in the original game where it was a Game Breaker.
    • Contra: Hard Corps's Brad Fang's Vulcan Cannon is of the Spray Burst variant.
  • Stationary Boss: In the first game, these are entrances to bases. In the later games, though, they are various Cosmic Horrors.
  • 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.
  • Stripperiffic: Sheena Etranzi's outfit in Contra 4 is ridiculous on so many levels. See it here.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Brad Fang in Contra: Hard Corps.
  • 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!
  • Super Title 64 Advance: Averted by Super Contra, which was originally an arcade game, and then adapted into the NES under the shortened title of Super C. When the series made it to the SNES, they had no choice but to come up with a different name for its installment (Contra III in America and Contra Spirits in Japan). However, the GBA port of Contra III plays it straight by being called Contra Advance.
    • Played straight with the European versions. 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.
  • 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, NES version discards the timer, yet the Commodore 64 version is punitive, giving only forty and fifty-five seconds respectively.
  • 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.
  • Transforming Mecha: Mr. Heli-Robo in Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • True Final Boss: In Contra: Shattered Soldier, if you get an A Rank or higher on the first five missions (if not, you get a Downer Ending), you get to go on to Mission 6, where after defeating the Mr. Heli-Robo transformer miniboss, you face the Sealed Evil in a Can Relic Of Morai in a Sequential Boss fight (as if the sequential boss fight with Lance wasn't enough). And THEN, if you beat all that with an S Rank, you fight his true final form, which disappointingly is a Clipped-Wing Angel boss (if the pattern has been memorized), combined with a Gainax Ending.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: The Man-Faced Fish in Contra: Shattered Soldier.
  • 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 Trope for plot twisting reasons.
  • 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, eg the Stage 4 boss of the original, who is IMO That One Boss, 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.
  • 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.
  • Video Game Lives
  • Violation of Common Sense: 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.
    • In deference to common sense, once the ship's shield is down, the missiles will harm it, and it will eventually be destroyed without any added assistance from the player.
    • In Contra ReBirth, there is a helicopter which can fly in space - WTF!?!?
  • Walking Shirtless Scene
  • Wasted Song: Contra: Hard Corps includes in its sound test a theme titled "Jurassic Dope". This song is heard in only two areas of the game. One is nothing but a very brief cutscene consisting of a text box, a selection of two choices, and one more text box afterward. The other instance is a second cutscene, this one with a whopping one dialogue box. The song 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.
    • Arguably all of the Shattered Soldier soundtrack due to the inability to hear it over the gunfire and no separate volume controls for SFX and BGM.
      • 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.
  • 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.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Lance in Contra ReBirth.
  • A Winner Is You:
    • The unanswered question is "why should I have to consider myself a hero? Doesn't anyone else?".
  • With This Herring: Let's just say this: you start off with a wimpy gun and you are such a wuss that you are DEAD if you touch anything that isn't the floor, wall, friendly or a power-up.
  • Wolf Man: Brad Fang in Contra: Hard Corps.
  • Womb Level: Typically the last level in a game.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: Contra 4 has the "over the shoulder soldier folder", a most "terrible tumbler" which is just a boulder.
  • Worthy Opponent: Deadeye Joe considers the player this in Contra: Hard Corps, to the point that in one route, he breaks the player out of his (or her) cell and gives his (or her) back your weapons so that he can be the one to defeat you.
  • X Meets Y: Contra = Aliens + Commando + Rambo. The Japanese flyer even mentions all three of those films. While the series is often associated with Predator as well (thanks to Bob Wakelin's now-iconic cover artwork of the NES version), the original Contra arcade game actually predates Predator by four months.
    • Contra Force is Contra in the modern day with the power-up system from Gradius.
  • 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.
  • Zerg Rush: The second half of Contra ReBirth's Stage 5.
  1. Zunou Seimeitai Saaru.
  2. Tennou Ki Gyaba.
  3. 天王創魔心ゴメラモスキング, Tennou Sou Ma Shin Gomeramosukingu
  4. 天王鬼ギャバ, Tennou Ki Gyaba
  5. 陰獣キムコウ, In Juu Kimukou
  6. 奴隷獣タカ, Dorei Juu Taka
  7. 大覚ロボビッグファズ, Daikaku Robo Biggufazu