Best Old School Video Games: Contra

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) is an online multiplayer game developed and published by the PUBG Corporation. In the game, up to 100 players are dropped onto an island, where they search for weapons and supplies to use to kill the others and avoid being killed themselves. PUBG Mobile now has an estimated 400 million active users, with around 50 million playing every day. If you don’t know what PUBG Mobile is, then congratulations on spending as long as you have living under a rock, or you’re my grandmother (Hi naani, how’d you get on the internet?).

Today the most popular multiplayer game is on smartphones in the palms of players’ hands, but there once was a time when the the greatest multiplayer game ever made was on a system called the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), which was launched in 1985. We thought that the upcoming PUBG Mobile Tournament in Mumbai would be a great opportunity to do a series of throwbacks to games we grew up playing.

Released in 1987, Contra is one of the most fiendishly difficult video games and one of the most rewarding. You won’t stop firing your gun for a moment, as you dodge the maelstrom of bullets that the vast hordes of aliens send your way. One single hit means death and starting the level from the beginning. Each level gets tougher the closer you get to the conclusion. This challenge is what makes Contra one of the most satisfying gaming experiences out there. Defeating the alien army leaves you with a very real feeling of accomplishment, like you actually are a gun-toting action hero who just blew up an entire armada of alien foes bent on destroying the planet. What adds to the fun is that you can play with a partner. (In the ’90s this was usually your older sibling who forced you to play as the red guy.)

The game stood in a class of its own with its eight-bit graphics that still hold up well today, and tight and responsive controls. Since its release, the game has spawned countless bullet-hell shooter clones. You can find these on everything from high-end gaming consoles to smartphones even in 2019. Yet the original Contra is still a delight to play.