Originally released as an arcade game titled Super Contra, Super C — or Probotector II — is the NES-ported sequel to the now infamously difficult action game Contra. With the continuing story of alien invaders, and most of the same gameplay elements, Super C shares many similarities with its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean it’s not without its own charms. This is a game that dares to ask: if it isn’t broken, why fix it?
Like most Contra games, Super C is primarily a side-scrolling run and gun game — with a few top-down levels sprinkled in — that has you blasting your way through levels filled with enemy soldiers, aliens and robotic war machines. As you make your way through the eight stages and their respective bosses, you're able to shoot down flying pods that contain power ups such as gun enhancements and temporary shields. Unfortunately, the upgrades don’t stack and combine to create even more powerful weapons, but the available variety does add an element of strategy.
Though the series is well known for its punishing difficulty and one-hit kills, this entry tends to be a bit more forgiving and accessible to newcomers. Completing the game is still a challenge, and you will die countless times before reaching the end, but each death isn’t nearly as disheartening as expected as you progress further and further. Super C is a very difficult game to complete, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be throwing your 3DS at a nearby wall as quickly as you would while playing other series favourites.
A game this difficult requires precision movement and tight controls are a necessity. Thankfully, Super C’s controls are absolutely spot-on. The inputs are simple, consisting entirely of pressing A to jump, B to shoot, and using the D-Pad to move. Tapping on the 3DS’s touch screen opens the Virtual Console menu where you can reset the game, create a save state — sure to be a godsend for many — or enable download play so that a friend help you cooperatively on your adventure.
In moving from the arcade cabinet to NES, Super Contra did take quite a hit graphically, but that’s not to say that this version looks bad by any means — just drastically different. All of the characters and environments are scaled down to 8-bit designs that look pretty much identical to those in the first NES game. It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate a stray enemy bullet from a flashy backdrop, but there’s still enough detail here to provide variety and depth to each level. There’s also a fast-paced soundtrack to match the action and set the mood for battle.
Anyone who is a fan of the Contra series, or run and gun action games in general, should definitely download a copy of Super C. It’s a little on the short side with only eight levels, but it's definitely one that you’ll be replaying over and over again, especially when you have a friend nearby for download play co-op. The difficulty may be daunting for newcomers to the genre, but it can be overcome through practice and patience, and finally arriving at the end makes for a very rewarding feeling.