“Contra” Turns 30!

Released close to the end of the golden age of arcade gaming in the 1980s, “Contra” was still one of the top upright arcade games for sale back in the day. Can you believe the game is already 30 years old?

Contra’s Origins

“Contra” is a “run and gun” action game, originally released on February 20, 1987 by Konami, also known for such titles as “Frogger,” “Castlevania,” “Dance Dance Revolution,” and more. “Contra” originally came out as an arcade cabinet, but was later also released for the Nintendo Entertainment System and ported to the computer.

“Contra” was named for a group of U.S.-backed militant groups that fought the left-wing socialist government of Nicarauga from the late 1970s to early 1990s. The game was also called “Gryzor” and “Probotector.”

Game Play

The game allows for up to two players, one playing as Bill, the blonde fighter with the blue bandana, and one playing as Lance, the black-haired fighter with the red bandana. From the first round, “Jungle,” to the last, where the gamer has to defeat enemy soldiers, a hovercraft, armored trucks, and finally, a giant alien head.


“Super Contra: The Alien Strikes Back” was released in 1988 as a coin-operated arcade game, and also ported to the NES and computer system, though it was known as “Super C.” Bill and Lance appear in this game again, only this time they have to defeat mutated aliens who have possessed and taken over a military base, the same creatures they defeated in the original “Contra.”

Those were the only two arcade “Contra” titles released by Konami, but the series went on to have great success as an NES and Genesis series. There are currently 14 games in the entire series, with the most recent installment released in 2014: “Neo Contra,” a slot machine game based on the PlayStation title originally released in 2004.

Travel Back in Time

As “Contra” turns 30, it’s a great time to reminisce about your favorite games from the 1980s. When you weren’t shooting aliens in “Contra,” what other games were you mastering? Find a wide selection of the best titles from the golden age of arcade games at Arcade Classics.