“Counter” 30 years: as Schwarz and Stallone with Strangers fought
“School can wait, check out wild game” — says one American teenager another when they go along the rows of arcade machines. In the darkness of the hall rumbles music and smell the popcorn. Friends head to the newest arcade game, which is already crowding around teenagers. Screen shaking explosions: two skaloobraznuju Marines with machine guns stormed a hostile jungle. “This is better than the movie with Schwarzenegger and Stallone!”, says one of the spectators. “Yes, here you are the star of the action movie,” adds another. Novelty, of course, is called Contra on the calendar — February 20, 1987.
30 years ago, Konami released a masterpiece that spawned an avalanche of sequels, imitations and clones. Than not an occasion to recall the brilliance and poverty of one of the oldest game series?
What is the world of teenage amusements of America of the late ‘ 80s? In theaters — endless Hollywood action, muscular heroes that save the world, flexing biceps. In living rooms and children — the 8-bit Nintendo console with a jumping plumber who made the popular genre of platformer. The height of technological excellence igroproma — arcade like R-Type and Gradius, which displays a nimble zvezdolety, shooting enemies of lasers, maneuvering in the placers of special effects. What if in one project to combine the atmosphere of kinoboeviki, jumping in the tradition of Super Mario Bros. brisk firing in the spirit of Gradius? What if you put a triple blow to the wallets of entertainment?
These questions puzzled the Japanese Konami employees who made the mid-80s, name on arcade, console and computer hits (Frogger, Gradius, Castlevania, and Metal Gear). Their answer, of course, and became a Contra, conquered the gambling halls of the United States, Europe and Japan in the winter of 1987. Plot saver? Text briefings? To hell! Grabbed the gun, spitting bullets like a fan, and ran forward, alone or with a partner. Fire-fire-fire! When two paratroopers with the appearance of Schwarzenegger and Stallone shoulder to shoulder, oppressed terrorists who have entrenched themselves on a tropical island, and then making quite a splash in the den of the Queen of the xenomorph species, explanations not required. Required, except that quarters. To extravaganza of explosions and slaughter, in the best traditions of “Commando,” “Aliens” and “Rambo”, is not ended as long as possible.
Royalties for the use of the image of Arnie and Sly, of course, no one paid anyone off. The time was such developers ‘ 80s with impunity exploited footage from cult films and posters with Hollywood superstars. Needless to explain where Konami borrowed the monsters suspiciously similar to biomehanoidov Giger? Even the names of the heroes of “Contra” refer to the actors Kemerovsky “Strangers”. Bill Reiser was named in honor of bill Paxton and Paul Reiser and his partner lance Bean — in honor of lance Henriksen and Michael Bina.
But not a plagiarized one. Based on the unpretentious concept of run and gun (run and gun), Konami has built incredible for the time test ride. A two-dimensional level in the jungle you have to cross from left to right, followed by the pseudo base assault (and this is five years before Wolfenstein 3D!), and after jumping on vertical Islands among the waterfalls. The scenery, seemingly motionless, was suddenly bristling with tentacles and began spitting mucus. Unarmed enemies-Marines eventually got guns and grenades, Recalling that people in the “Counter” is not just death, but death suddenly. One shot — one kill. But who said that to save the world from alien predators easily? Arnie was patient and told us.
Your among Strangers
By 1988, the war with the aliens was covered by the arcade halls, but also residential areas: the expansion of “Dissent” on the home platform. However, porting went on with varying success: affected by hardware limitations. For example, the owners of popular Japanese computers, MSX-2 had to settle for a mutilated turtle graphics and speed of the firefights. But owners of Nintendo consoles it was a sin to complain: the 8-bit “counter” — with a slight simplification of picture and sound — has kept the same furious gameplay, including the ability to war together. Plus, got modified by the management and advanced levels.
Too hard? You can enter the code, getting 30 lives instead of three. Yes, it is immortalized Contra “Konami Code”: a secret combination of buttons, which are initially activated in the works of Japanese Studio different buns, and eventually became part of pop culture. Given the millions of sales of NES consoles worldwide, it’s no wonder that Contra is imprinted in the mass consciousness as the benchmark of the genre run and gun. For many Russian-speaking gamers of the early 90’s familiarity with the series is also started with this “game about men in red and blue pants”, albeit on a pirate cartridge for the “Dandy” (an illegal clone of Famicom consoles).
Stumbled on a gold mine, Konami began to develop intensively. In 1988 came the arcade Super Contra, showing the same of alien eggs, only in profile: bill Riser and lance Bina again they had to clean up military bases, wander through the jungle and bored to spend time in the bowels of a giant Alien. Owners possibilit received their portion of blood, pain and sweat two years later: Super C sported a redesigned locations and new grotesque monsters. To turn the helmet of the space jockey from netlenki by Ridley Scott in the final boss? So easily! Finally, in 1991, appeared in Operation C — adaptation of Super Contra for the Game Boy, the series acquainted with homing weapons.
Fire walk with me
In the 16-bit era of the franchise, Konami moved with elegance truck from a famous scene of “Terminator 2”: sparks, explosions, smoke and flames. Contra III: The Alien Wars, was developed in 1992 exclusively for the SNES, depict a picture of the last days of the Earth from a biblical scale. Under the onslaught of alien armies, entire neighborhoods were settled in the dust, asphalt under the feet of the characters melted into the oceans of fire, and the monster gargantuanly sizes strove to crush like a bug. And these circles of hell in the Alien Wars, was racing two of the commando, meting out vengeance with furious rebukes: shooting in Macedonian of the two machine guns jumping, twisting alien reptile on the tank tracks. After all, the everyday life of the Savior of the world in Contra III is very simple. This is how to ride a motorcycle, which burns. And you burn and everything burns and you’re in hell.
Press caressed Alien Wars ratings, gamers — sales, and a library of evergreens Nintendo added to one of the most beautiful, fun and challenging action games of the 90s. Ashes third “Dissent” still knocking at the hearts of game developers. Whether it be battle scenes in Gears of War with car chases and gunfights, imitating the crazy rhythm of Japanese masterpiece, flying riding a rocket in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance or the limit of two slot portable weapons in Halo.
And if Alien Wars proved to be a powerful argument in favor of the SNES, Contra: Hard Corps, released in 1994, was persuaded to fork up already on the console SEGA. Yes there convinced of! It has advanced fans of the series an ultimatum: buy, borrow, steal, and do anything, but get a black 16-bit box and cherished the cartridge. Hard Corps in no way knew restraint, twisting hardcore and audiovisual Goodies to the max. Gigantic cybernetic monsters on the move changed forms and guises, provoking battle after battle, the enemies scattered on dozens of scraps, a stray shot had launched a fiery Inferno, stitching decorations.
But the color differentiation of pants, the authors said a resounding “no!” Instead of the usual two strokes in red and blue tights — four saviors of the galaxy all with unique weapons and fighting styles. Cyborg-wolf, for example, not only fired from the hand bolted to the minigun, but also followed the precepts of the classics: “Napalm burn the hearts of enemies.” A small, sharp and sassy relative of the robot Bender hang out the alien scum ball on a chain. The main trump Hard Corps — paradoxically for the series, previously paid the twists and turns of the scenario a few lines in the user manual — it turned out the story campaign. The fork at the end of levels opened new locations and boss fights, by defining one of six endings.
What more could you want? Is that the same hardcore and adrenaline, but in a fair 3D. And while fans waited three-dimensional “Counter”, the industry continued to provide two-dimensional run and gun shooters. In 1995 the market entered a good Doom Troopers, Alien Soldier and Skeleton Krew, but to outdo the Hard Corps imitators could not.
All right, I’m falling
Who would have known that after the standard Alien Wars and Hard Corps series will go racing? The late 90s was marked by two disasters, the name of which — Contra: Legacy of War (1996) and C: The Contra Adventure (1998). Offensive 32-bit projects have been Hungarian Studio Appaloosa, known for the Ecco The Dolphin franchise. Vzhuh! And “contra” came to be in a ghetto of the worst games of the PlayStation era: primitive graphics, crooked design, the psychotic camera, unresponsive control. Like the best, but it turned out parody of Tomb Raider.
After suffering the loss of reputation, leadership, Konami returned in the producer’s chair Nobuya Nakazato, had a hand in Alien Wars and Hard Corps. He went on a bold experiment: the transplanted franchise on a three-dimensional engine, but retained the fixed camera angles and classic gameplay. So on the PlayStation 2 Contra: Shattered Soldier (2002) and Neo Contra (2004), in which bill Reiser fought with the dictator lance Bean. Clones, genetic experiments, walking robots are just Metal Gear Solid in a nutshell. What is not touched for a full return of the series in the AAA League?
Alas, Konami began to develop the idea of Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, limiting the cashing of gaming nostalgia on different platforms. For example, Wii owners received in 2009, a retelling of the best gameplay moments of the past editions, proudly titled Contra: ReBirth. Two years later, the owners of the Xbox 360 and PS3 got Hard Corps: Uprising — rethink it is clear what part of the style of anime. And even a brilliant Contra 4 for Nintendo DS sang old songs in a new way (until the battle with the submarine from Operation C for Game Boy). Agree, from the series with a 30-year history waiting for more.
Wait for resurrection in the tradition of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow? Judging scandal with the dismissal of Hideo Kojima and the cancellation of the project, Silent Hills — is unlikely. In recent years, Konami has ceased to be the locomotive of the games industry: this train is finally derailed and rushes from nowhere to nowhere, spewing rays of madness. Now the Japanese giant is only interested in mobile free to play, casino one-armed bandits in explanation of Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill and Contra….
The author of the text: Vladimir Saldan