Super C is a throwback to the glory days – when men were men, and video games were punishingly, brutally difficult. Super C, the North American NES version of Super Contra, was released in 1990. It features the same muscle-toting, cigar smoking badass heroes that everyone and loves. Your mission? To fight through incalculable numbers of alien hordes to save Earth. Just like Contra, Super C has you fighting through 8 levels of mayhem with all the weapons that you’ve grown used to. Featuring single-player and co-op action, this isn’t just another Contra game.
Well, let’s just say the story isn’t going to win any writing awards. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things because when an incredibly ugly alien monster is staring you in the face, it doesn’t matter how this situation came to be. What matters is that you have a gun in your hand, and you must blast this ghoul in the face so that you can proceed. Simple, right? If you’re really curious about the story, you can read the plot description that comes with the game manual. And let me tell you, you’ll be even more confused about the plot after you’ve read it. To make a long story short – Earth is under attack, and Scorpion and Mad Dog are the only ones who can help. Everyone else is being mind controlled by Red Falcon, and you’ll have to fight gleefully named enemies like the Babalu Destructoid Mechanism to save the day.
This Contra sequel features familiar gameplay to the original which you can read our review here, with some key differences. Instead of the semi-3D perspective of the original, Super C breaks up the action by including two levels from a top-down perspective. These bird’s eye levels are a great change of pace and work better on a 2D plane overall. The side-scrolling parts of the game have been beefed up slightly too, allowing you to scroll horizontally and vertically within the same levels. It also beefs up the grim factor, with bosses and monsters looking decidedly more ghoulish than the original. What’s not been changed though is the tight controls and fun gameplay.
All your favorite weapons are present in Super C – the “aim anywhere don’t care” spread gun, the flamethrower and the laser. One welcome change is that the flamethrower in Super C is now an actual badass weapon of destruction, instead of the Lego stick it felt like in the original. The original flamethrower shot fireballs that circled around meekly. This new one shoots massive fireballs that travel straight, but explode on contact with a surface. It can also be charged to unleash a-fireball that can kill multiple enemies and create unholy explosions on impact. Great job on the flamethrower here.
The difficulty level is still high, as you would expect from a Contra game. Overall, the game feels more balanced, probably because the weapons you have now are more powerful in some ways. The original Contra had one or two difficult levels (I’m looking at you Energy Zone) followed by some fairly weak ones. Alien’s Lair, the final level in the game, was notoriously easy. Super C balances out things in a way where all levels are going to be dangerous, if not too difficult. There are some stages, such as Area 6, where things might get really hairy especially if you don’t have the spread gun. The sound is as it should be for an old NES game, for me the Guns are what make Super C.
Overall, this is a great refinement of the Contra formula. Keeping the frantic side-scrolling action that made the original popular intact, Super C introduces some nuances that make things more fun. Weapons feel better to handle, and the overhead levels offer a refreshing change of pace. If you’re a fan of side-scrolling games, shooters or games that require pure skill to get through, then strap on your gear, soldier. Super C awaits the brave amongst you.