Platforms: Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Commodore 64, IBM PC/Compatibles, MSX, NES / Famicom, ZX Spectrum

Also Known As


Main Genre:
Behind view , Side View
Gameplay Style:
Shooter , Platform
Visual Presentation:
Scrolling (Horizontal or Vertical) , Fixed / Flip Screen


Arcade version of Contra
Arcade version of Contra

Contra (also released as Gryzor in Europe) is an action game originally released in arcades by Konami in 1986 and later ported to numerous home computers and consoles. As the Commandos Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, the goal is for players to survive each of the varying stages to defeat the terrorist organization known as Red Falcon. Contra was a huge commercial success with the arcade version becoming one of the top grossing coin-op games and the NES version often considered one of the best action games of the era. Several sequels, including Super Contra, were released as well.


Contra takes place in the future on a fictional base near New Zealand; the criminal Red Falcon Organization has devised a plot to wipe out humanity; the Earth Marine Corp's Contra Unit sends in two Commandos, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, with the goal of destroying the enemy forces along with the alien entity that is controlling them. Each stage on the way to the final encounter is filled with deadly enemies both human and alien; armed initially only with a rifle and unlimited ammunition, players need to shoot, jump, and navigate their way through the convoluted base.

The game utilizes various perspectives; depending on the stage, the game may use either a side view with a scrolling or fixed screen, or a psuedo 3D view where players are moving “into” the screen. Players begin armed with a simple rifle; additional weapons can be acquired by destroying certain objects or enemies and picking up the capsules left behind. The exact weapons available can vary by version, but commonly include a machine gun, lasers, a rapid fire upgrade, and temporary invulnerability. On side view screens players can run, jump, or lie down on his stomach (to duck fire or shoot low targets); when jumping, the characters perform a somersault which allows players to continue firing in all directions even during the jump. On 3D screens, players can move and jump to the left or the right; moving forward will advance through the tunnels, but players need to ensure no obstacles or barriers are in the way first. These sections have a time limit with a life lost if time runs out. Most versions of the game allow two players simultaneously, although some are limited to either two players alternating or just a single player.


There are many differences between the versions of Contra for different platforms (some likely driven by technical limitations) including the number of stages present, the length and layout of the stages, the presence (or abscence) of between mission cut scenes, and more. A few of the differences that can be found include:

  • Arcade: Includes a total of 7 stages. The Playchoice-10 version is similar to the U.S. NES version. The European version, called Gryzor, only supports two players alternating and not simultaneous play.
  • Amstrad CPC: A flip-screen display is used instead of scrolling on stages that would normally scroll in the arcade version.
  • Commodore 64: Contains only 6 stages.
  • IBM PC and Tandy: Contains a total of 9 stages.
  • MSX: A flip-screen display is used instead of scrolling on stages that would normally scroll in the arcade version. Only one player games are supported; instead of players dieing from a single hit, there is an energy guage allowing multiple hits. Weapon and power-upsert vary compared with other versions. There a total of 19 stages with early ones based on the arcade version and later stages being original.
  • NES / Famicom: Contains restructured and extended stages and an altered plot. The Japanese Famicom version contains additional cut scenes which are not found in the U.S. and European NES versions.


Platform: IBM PC/Compatibles
Head Programmer: John Siegesmund
Assistant Programmer: James R. Stelzer
Artwork: Christopher Grow
Cover Artwork: Bob Wakelin
Platform: NES / Famicom
Programmers: Shigeharu Umezaki, Satoshi Kishiwada, Kouki Yamashita, T. Danjyo, Mitsuaki Ogawa
Graphic Designers: T. Ueyama, Setsu Muraki, M. Fujiwara, T. Nishikawa, C. Ozawa
Sound Creators: Hidenori Maezawa, Kiyohiro Sada
Special Thanks to: Kenji Shimoide, Naoki Satō, AC Contra Team
Directed by: Shigeharu Umezaki, Shinji Kitamoto
Cover Artwork (US version) by: Bob Wakelin


Click on a picture below to view a larger version.
Arcade Version


Instruction Manual
IBM PC/Compatibles


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