Super C
Box Shot
Super C
Platform: NES
Publisher: Konami
Designer: Konami
Genre: Action
Players: 2 (Simultaneous)
Published Date 1990
Reviewed by: Kurt Kalata

The original Contra was an excellent game. It had plenty of hard-core, kill 'em action, one of the first of its kind on the Nintendo. But its main downfalls was extreme unfairness, which lead most people to use the 30 men code. Like Ninja Gaiden 2, at first glance, Super C seems to be a carbon copy of the original with new levels. But when examined into deeper, a slightly better game emerges.

To those unfamiliar with the original, the Contra series is basically Rambo incarnated on the NES. There's plenty of two player side-scrolling action, and lots n' lots of shooting and killing. You'll also spend plenty of time ducking under enemy bullets or leaping out of their way. Alas, you are only given three lives per player and a handful of continues before you must start the game from scratch.

Remember Red Falcon? You though your destroyed his heart at the end of Contra, but he's back for some reason or another. Instead of landing on a crappy little remote island, he's decided to mount a full fledged attack... right on the military bases on the planet. The only commandos left are Lance and Scorpian, so its off to duty! Super C plays a lot like its predecessor, with plenty of weapons that can be collected, with the same aiming and jumping controls. I still would've preferred the ability to aim diaganolly and not move, as well as better jumping control, but its no biggy.

The game starts off at your home base, but soon leads you to a jungle, more enemy bases, mountains, and finally the hideout of the aliens themselves. As the game progresses, its obvious how the motifs of each level changes... at first human and militaristic, later hideous and very alien, using lots of purples and reds. The best replacement in Super C seems to be the removal of those behind-the-back areas (which while good in concept, didn't quite work well in execution.) Instead, there are two overhead levels, much like Commando. Much better, in my opinion.

There are a handful of noticeable changes. The wimpy flamethrower has been made more powerful (it shoots flame balls that burst on contact with a surface) and there's no 30 man code to get you by...only a 10 man code, so you'll still need to but some effort into beating the game. The best improvement is that the game as a whole seems much less frustrating. It's still difficult, but many of the unfair deaths in Contra aren't here any more. There are still things that annoys me...three lives still isn't enough (although you get plenty by high scores) and losing your weapon after dying sucks, but the enemies don't fire quite as fiercely as before, so deaths are less prevalent. The bosses are also quite tough, especially that ones that decide to toss out about six homing bullets at the same time. However, with some strategy, quick thinking, and a good weapon, you should be able to beat most of them without a huge problem (unlike some of Contra's immensely hard bosses.)

Graphically, the game seems to have taken a big step upward. No longer using drab colors, everything has a much more colorful feel to the game, without looking too cheery. The animated sprites look a little bit better, and all of the bosses look very cool. On the audio spectrum, the sound is just amazing...it uses an orchetral hit as part of the soundtrack and ends up being just plain awesome! Unfortunately, only a few of the tunes are memorable, with the rest just being okay. The game controls exactly the same way as the original, which isn't bad really. I still don't think that your commandos can jump high enough to overcome certain obstacles, but due to the better level design in Super C, this flaw isn't as prevalent.

Even the though the changes seem subtle, Super C is somewhat of a better game than the original. Still, I tend to prefer games that involve close combat (i.e. Ninja Gaiden) over a shooting one like this. Even so, Super C is definitely worth a play through. But if you didn't like the Contra games in general, pass it up.