As an active member of the forums at http://www.racketboy.com
, I try to participate in the Together Retro game club every month. However, as I don't like to bother with emulation and I only collect for Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Gamecube, I can't always play the chosen game. Luckily what makes the GB collection so fantastic is that almost every major game or series has been ported, remade, or had some kind of sequel or related game land on the little handheld that could. So while the game club spent February with the NES classic Contra
, I investigated the monochrome sequels. Operation C
was released only two years after the Game Boy surfaced, and yet it's a highly advanced and impressive game. It was a Game Boy exlusive that was obviously inspired by the second NES title, Super C
. The attention to detail in the graphics is really a bit of a surprise for such an early release, and the music rivals that of any Contra game released on the NES. Lance is controlled just as smoothly in the NES classic, so if you've played that one you'll have no problem jumping into this. The weapon upgrades include two versions of the spread gun, a homing gun and some kind of single shot flame-thrower. The levels are split between side-scrollers and overhead levels (see above pictures). Although the game is relatively short at just five levels, the difficulty of the levels certainly makes them last. In fact, I couldn't beat level four since I decided to give it a go without using the Konami Code.
Released three years later, Contra: The Alien Wars
is basically a port of the SNES game of the same title. Obviously the game is stripped down to fit onto the GB hardware, but a ton is stuffed into the little cart. Though Lance's movements aren't quite as fluid as they were in Operation C
, he can now do a lot more such as transfer down to platforms below the one he's on, climb walls or hang from ceilings. Because of these new capabilites, the controls take a bit longer to get used to but eventually feel comfortable enough to master. Again, Konami did a great job with both graphics (fire even looks like fire!) and music. In fact, the music in this one might even trump that of Operation C
The levels again vary between side-scrollers and overheads and have alot of fun twists and turns within them. The boss animation is extremely impressive even when comparing it to the SNES version. The game is again only five levels, but the levels are generally pretty long and extremely hard. In fact, this game offers three difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal or Maniac. After spending a bit of time on Normal I decided to give Easy a try so I could at least take a better survey of the levels (again no Konami Code) but strangely the game reset itself after I defeated the third level boss.
In 2002, Alien Wars
was remade for the GBA, which may appeal more to the fans of the SNES game. I haven't played this version, so I can't speak from experience. Ultimately I'd say that both Game Boy releases are worthwhile additions to your collection. And although Alien Wars
is perhaps better musically and graphically, my vote goes to Operation C
as the better game. I find the controls a bit more natural, and it tends to have the better balance of being difficult without being completely frustrating.
This is what I love about RF Generation: love for the old, with lots of pictures. Makes you want to fire up my copy of the game to boot. Great article, man.
Sweet!! I'm gonna be looking for a few GB titles later in the year and Operaction C may have just becomd one of them.
Ah yes, good ol' Konami on the GB. The reason Alien Wars reset for ya after the 3rd stage is because that's as far as the game will play on the easy setting. Normal gets you the whole game, hard gets the best ending. I played these SO much back in the day...
The Contra Advance title on GBA was a bit of a hack job- it spliced together elements, enemies and stages from Snes's Contra III and Genesis' Contra Hard Corps, but ended up lesser than the some of it's superior parts. I LOVE me some original 16-bit Contra, so the GBA title sounded incredible, but it was definitely rushed- glitchy, terrible spawning and enemy placement, inconsistent patterns, subpar sound, and a host of minor issues keep it from what it could (should) have been. I still play it, but every other portable iteration of Contra is superior.
Also a special shout-out for Contra 4 on DS, a true sequel and superior (imho) to every Contra released since Hard Corps. (possibly except Shattered Soldier, depending on my mood.) I LOVE that game- interesting new mechanics, perfect art style, tough but reasonably fair (it IS Contra ) and even has the two 8-bit originals as unlockables. DO BUY.
slackur, thank you for your thoughts. I was considering hunting down the GBA version, but I suppose it's best to stick with Alien Wars on GB. Also, I had a feeling that EASY MODE was what was keeping me from reaching level 4. Thanks for verifying that.
I enjoy the love given to the old portables, and it's so cool to see someone pointing out the GB and GBC versions of great franchises that too few people know about. There are so many GB/GBC sequels to popular NES games that no one knows about, and I've found many of these obscure gems are even better than their more popular console counterparts.
Keep 'em coming!