Super C
  • Genre:
    • Run and Gun
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Konami
  • Publisher:
    • Konami
  • Released:
    • JP 02/02/1990
    • US April 1990
    • UK 1992
Score: 80%

This review was published on 07/30/2013.

Super C is a 2-D, side-scrolling action game in the run and gun style. The game was developed by Konami and it started out as an arcade game that got a number of stripped down computer and home console ports. The most famous of which is the Nintendo Entertainment System port of Super C. Super C's original name was actually Super Contra, as it's the sequel to the first Contra. The name was changed to Super C for the North American release for some odd reason. As if that wasn't already confusing enough, the European version is named Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces and it replaces most of the characters with robots. The idea with that last one is that there are some countries in Europe that were tough on video game violence, so it's not considered violent if you're killing hundreds of robots as opposed to humans. Anyway, Super C continues much of what the original Contra did, barely deviating from the formula. It's the very definition of a safe sequel, but it's pretty good nonetheless. People don't fondly remember this one as much as the first, though it still has a place in the hearts of many. I hope you like consonants, because Super C is so great, it's super.

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This game is set a year after what occurred in the original Contra. In case you don't know or have forgotten, the events of the original Contra consisted of copious amounts of testosterone filled manliness. The same thing pretty much happens in Super C. Bill and Lance, the manly heroes from the first game, are sent on a mission of manliness to do more manly things in Super C. What could be manlier than blowing up a bunch of aliens? This time, the aliens are out for revenge, and they plan to carry out this revenge by taking over a human military installation. The aliens are possessing human soldiers to do their dirty work, which is not very manly at all. To stop this obstruction to manliness, Bill and Lance remove their shirts and go in with guns blazing. A shirt only hinders one's manhood, if you recall from the teachings of the first Contra. It's true our manly heroes will be facing many of their old friends and commanders, but emotions should never get in a man's way to justice. Like many games of this era, none of the story is actually communicated to you inside of the game, so supplementary material will be needed if you care about that stuff. That's a good thing, though. Real men don't need stories, because they tell their own. In Super C, you make your own story, a story that involves gunning down anything that looks at you funny.

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If you played the first Contra, then you should be familiar with how things work in Super C. You control a shirtless manly man around, you've got infinite ammo, and you can fire in eight directions. Every jump you make is a continuous flip in the air, because you're just that awesome. You can even fire while spinning in the air like that, which doesn't make any sense, but men don't need to make sense. Men just need to be men. There are a number of power-ups available to augment your manliness in Super C. The first of these manhood upgrades is the machine gun. Normally you start out with a regular gun that can't do rapid fire unless you rapidly press on the button. Because men don't have time for that, the machine gun power-up enables you to hold down the button to rapid fire instead of tapping it. If the enemy is a little too brawny for your tastes, then you can use the fantastic laser gun to penetrate through their defenses and do extra damage. The best weapon by far, however, is the spread gun; aptly named because it shoots in a spread pattern. On top of doing major damage, it also has major reach. The spread gun is a man's best friend. These weapons are more or less the same as they were in the first Contra, but the flamethrower weapon has received a massive makeover. While it's still not anything like a real flamethrower, at least now it doesn't suck. This time the flame gun fires out giant balls of flame that explode on impact, with the explosions doing splash damage. What's really good about the flame gun now, though, is that it does major damage. That change makes the flame gun pretty useful. Super C's power-ups are a bit more balanced thanks to those changes, but the spread gun still reigns supreme. It's not until Contra III that the spread gun's throne is usurped.

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Like before, anything and everything in this game will kill you in one hit. Even so much as touching another man will kill you. That's because touching other men is not manly. Maybe the heroes of Contra should equip some battle armor, or at least put on a shirt. Contra is a hard series, and Super C is no different. In fact, Super C is much harder than the original Contra. Enemies will appear in droves, usually infinitely, and shoot tons of tiny bullets at your bare man pecks. Because the enemies are often limitless, sticking around in one area for too long can get you locked down in an endless bottleneck. I should note that it's fairly impressive for the NES to display such a large amount of enemies and bullets on screen all at once. The enemies are positioned a lot more strategically this time around, making it exceptionally difficult to push forward. Super C favors a balance of consistently moving forward, but also taking the time to think about how to approach certain situations.

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At the end of every stage is a boss that will try to boss you around. Men aren't meant to be bossed around, so these bosses need to be taken out with extreme prejudice. Bosses in Super C follow a similar script to the bosses in the first Contra game, in that there is usually a magical spot to stand in to avoid all damage. Having the spread shot helps a lot during boss fights, but the laser and flame guns can also be quite handy, as they do huge amounts of damage to most bosses. More damage means the boss goes down quicker, and that means you'll have to dodge less of its attacks. Super C has thoughtful stage designs that require strategic thought as well as quick reflexes, and good bosses to boot.

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Besides the normal stages of the game, you'll be faced with a couple of overhead sections. Some of the rules will change up a bit during these sections, as you can both walk and shoot in all eight directions. You can't jump, though, because that would look weird in an overhead perspective. The main direction you'll be traveling in is straight forward, in other words, up. Bullets have limited range in these sections, meaning you'll have to get up close and personal with your enemy to actually damage them. That might sound disadvantageous, but it also works in your favor, as enemy shots also have limited range. Success for the overhead sections relies on how well you know the range of your weapons versus the enemy's, and using that to your advantage whenever possible. Surprisingly, the spread shot isn't always the best gun for the job in these sections. You may find more success with some of the other weapons, like the flame gun. The exploding shots of the flame gun can extend your range a bit, plus it does a manly amount of damage. The bosses for these stages are also fought in an overhead view, and they're just as good as the regular bosses. There aren't too many overhead sections in the game, but they do a good job of adding variety to the proceedings. Variety is the mark of a good man, and also a good game.

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Super C is super awesome. Even though it's not talked about as much, Super C is just as good as the original Contra. It doesn't make too many improvements or changes, but you know what they say; don't fix what isn't broken. And there's nothing broken about Super C. Having said that, Super C does improve upon and change a few things, like improving the flame gun so it no longer sucks. The overhead stages are probably the biggest thing to differentiate Super C from the first Contra, though. Visually speaking, the behind-the-back stages of the first NES Contra were a bit more impressive, but the overhead stuff in Super C is more orthodox. It's hard to say which one is better, or which one is manlier. Some will prefer the behind-the-back stages of the original, but there are some who better enjoy the overhead stuff. They're both pretty decent from a game design perspective, so it's ultimately a matter of personal preference. Super C is a bit longer and much harder than the original Contra, making it a man's game indeed. If you aren't afraid of a little challenge, then give Super C a go.

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