SDA logo

Released in February 1988, Contra was one of the first of dozens of one-hit death run 'n gun shooters. Like all run 'n gun shooters there's a plot concerning a great evil (in this case the alien Red Falcon), but in the end everyone knows the purpose of the game is to shoot everything that moves while looking buff and manly.

Contra   Contra

Note: Picking up no items is the equivalent of low% in Contra.

Runs on the Xbox 360 NTSC-US version:

Runs on the Nintendo Entertainment System NTSC-US version:

Runs on the Nintendo Entertainment System NTSC-J version:

Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.

With Normal Difficulty: 0:04:52 by 'Zakky the Goatragon'

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

I adjusted the settings to use the Original graphics and music. As far as I can tell this has no affect on the speed of game. I also tested this and my times appeared to stay consistent between settings.

The Jungle:

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Quick and clean.

Base 1:

Again, not much of note here. Cores go down quickly and then it is on to the boss.

Base 1 Boss:

This started out as usual, with the two left panels going down fast, but that was all that went to plan during the first phase. The shot I fired when I jumped did not fire diagonally and up, but directly to the right. Fortunately it hit the lower right panel. From there I just improvised the rest of the first phase.

The second phase went as usual and despite that improvised start I actually gained a small amount of time on this fight!


The jumping in this game is...special. Boxfat referred to them as "Dolphin Flips" in my stream chat one day and it stuck. How appropriate that you see the jumping the most in this stage.

There is a rather tight jump in this stage (see if you can spot it!). I also have to make some fine adjustments for a couple of jumps, which is not at all easy with a 360 controller joypad.

The gun turrets on the defense system go down fast and I got really good luck on the gun panel opening right away. How fast the panel opens is completely random. It can open fast like it did for me, or take a really long time; long enough for a soldier to come wandering on the screen from the left before the core goes down. If we do not see that soldier at all; that "bringer of bad news", it is a good fight. If we do, we shoot the messenger and reset.

Fortunately we did not see the messenger and I am sure he was relieved to not have to get shot.

Base 2:

Not much to note until the last room. In this last room there is a box blocking the core. It is possible to shoot over the box and kill the core, instead of having to burn a few shots on the box before being able to hit the core, thus saving some time. During my first runs I could neither pull this off nor had the confidence that I could, so I was not going to even try. Then Boxfat and I had a bit of a lighthearted chat about "saving the boxes" and being a good sport about it I decided to take on the challenge. So I worked on it and it became second nature and so the box, although it gets destroyed in the end anyway, is not destroyed directly by me.

Base 2 Boss:

2-cycle is all you need to know here.

The Snowfield:

The aiming in this game is pretty special, too. Add the 360 joypad and it makes it worse. Add in more enemy congestion and things can go awry fast. I had to fire an extra laser shot at the first shield gunner and let fire a stray shot, but fortunately that is all that went wrong there and it did not cost much time.

The Energy Zone:

Discus Guy #1 gave me a good pattern. He is usually fairly consistent from run to run.

Right after the discus guy, I need to make a fairly precise jump. Too early I die to the flame behind the shield gunner. Too late and I end up dying to the lower flame behind the shield gunner. You may notice I pass right through the shield gunner's sprite. Shield gunners have no hitbox, only their bullets do, so you can pass right on through them.

The Hangar:

Discus Guy #2 also gave me a good pattern, but as those who have watched the runs I have streamed know, he is a massive troll. I took no chances and did a safety jump.

You are set up perfectly to just keep running through the spiked balls in the next section and I take advantage of the shield gunner non-hitbox again.

Missed a shot on the shield gunner at the end, but recovered quickly.

Alien Lair:

Luck was really good to me on the midboss this time. The enemies the midboss spawns can show up in such a way that it is impossible to kill them before they kill you or that they can eat up a lot of time while you kill them before you attack the midboss. I got probably the best luck I have ever had here and was able to killed them really quickly.

You see me fire off some laser shots that do not hit anything. The purpose of this is to make sure my aim is staying where it should and to make sure I properly time the two shots I need to kill the lower mouths. The rest of the mouths and their projectiles are of no concern.

A few properly placed laser shots take care of the "spiders" and the rest of the shots break the heart quickly.

The Wait Until the Credits: can walk around while the victory music plays and up until the screen has faded out completely and switched to the credits. This takes fifteen seconds no matter what.


This is a very short run, but it is much harder than it looks. There is so much execution squeezed into a short time. There is also the factor of bad RNG in critical areas being able to just outright kill a really well executed run over and over again in the same place. That I only made several minor mistakes and got pretty much the best RNG possible is quite fortunate.


First and foremost to Mr. K. I would not have at all picked this up seriously if not for him and he provided a lot of key advice and encouragement. I also finally took his advice about letting this run be! Also a great big thanks to Mr. K for doing audio commentary with me.

Boxfat who also provided encouragement, was around for many of my run attempt streams and that 4:53 I got the day before this run, came up with "Dolphin Flips" as a descriptive phrase for the jumping, and encouraging me to "save the boxes!"

Hurblat, PJ, sinister1, DK28, zallard1, Deuceler, Murphagator, and anyone else I might be forgetting who showed interest in my progress and/or offered encouraging words. You all rock!

All the stream viewers who watched me reset over and over and over and over again, but still stayed tuned in throughout it all.

And lastly to the boxes who gave their lives before and while I was learning how to be consistent enough to shoot over the one in the last room of Base 2. I am happy to report that I did not hurt a single box in this run (directly anyway).

With 2 players: 0:09:54 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen, Jeremy 'DK28' Doll

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

DK28's comments
As amazing as Contra is, it can only be better with a Partner, right? Let's find out...

Funny story. At AGDQ '14, Mr K and I completed a co-op run that clocked in at 9:59. It was an amazing run and was made even better since it was done at the marathon. The problem is, with the discovery of some new techniques, I was able to obtain the Holy Grail, a 9:58 solo. Thus the 9:59 was obsoleted.

So at The Contra Conference in September of 2014, we began our quest anew, to get the Ark of the Covenant. A co-op run that beats the 9:58. I'll go into detail of what changes had to be made for this achievement to become reailty.

DK Rizer and K Bean, the unstoppable Contras...

Jungle - Basic strategy. K has to get the first Rapid for Base1 and I need Spread and Rapid. Just keep the screen moving.

Base1 - Now you see the importance of Rapid Pea Shooter in the Base stages. And the Boss is destroyed that much faster with 2 Players.

Waterfall - The biggest strat change. K climbs to the top with me. We no longer kill Player 2. This allows K to keep Rapid without having to do an elaborate respawn and stuff to get Rapid at the Fire Bridge. This alone saves several over the old 2P strat.

Base2 - Having P2 with Rapid saves a bunch of time over the 1P run. This stage alone is probably where the 4 seconds is saved. The glitch on the Boss isn't even required.

Snow Field - Keep the screen moving here. K suicides on both tanks to set up a Game Over in Energy Zone. The stage is a little slower in 2P as you have to wait longer for the Tanks to drive all the way in and attack. Perfect Boss spawn though.

Energy Zone - K exits the run temporarily so I can run through the Flames alone. His second death halts the screen for almost a second, but results in a perfect Global Timer, which more than makes up for it. K comes back to help with the Boss and leaves again.

Hangar - Same as the previous stage. It's easier to traverse the claws and walls alone. K will be back soon!

Alien's Lair - We take out the Mouth and K goes in the lead. After he picks up Spread, I back him up all the way to the Heart. And then it's all over!

Ironically, this run was done on the US version. K and I really wanted the Japanese version for it's better aesthetics. However, there is different bomb timing in Snow Field and spawning seemed to be worse, so we were forced to switch versions. We literally got the 9:54 on our first serious attempt with the US version!

Long live Contra!

Mr. K's comments
This run was done during the 3rd Contra Conference. DK and I pushed this game to sub 10 at AGDQ 2014. DK would later go on to get a single player time of 9:58. We knew that the two player run ought to be faster and so we wanted to push the time down further. This was the result.
Special thanks:
DK28 - You've been a great partner and I can't believe we got the time this low.
Heidman - You were the reason why I wanted to co-op the other Contra games. Partner changes happened because of logistics, but I can't tell you how happy I was when we got our first 2P time. We missed you at the conference, but you are never forgotten
Hurblat - You've done such great things for the Contra community
TMR - Thank you for pushing this game so hard. Your devotion and competition have really been what made the sub 10 possible. Your hangar strat with the barrier definitely helped with this run
Zallard1 - A rock solid Contra Conference attendee and a great friend
Pasky - The hitbox viewer you made really did come in handy for this run.
All the Contra Runners

Two player mechanics:
-The screen scrolls when you are slightly to the right of the screen instead of the very center
-Several places lag more
-Enemies can only take one damage per frame (if a shot from both players hit on the same frame, only 1 damage is registered)
-Spread rhythm is much more difficult to get because of a higher shot limit

Stage 1
As player two, my only purpose in this level is to collect R and to not fall so far behind that the screen stops from scrolling

Stage 2
In this stage, I unleash the power of peashooter with R. With the R upgrade peashooter shots move extremely fast. It makes it extremely hard for Player 1 to get spread rhythm, but the speed of the spreadshots more than make up for it. On the boss we can take out the cores a little faster and the boss gets wrecked. Laser is also powerful, but since it hits on consecutive frames, its damage nullifies a lot of player 1's damage.

Stage 3
Historically, all two player runs have had a very hard time syncing up in this stage because both players start at different spots and if jumps aren't closely timed very strange things happen. DK and I managed to sync up and keep relatively good sync. This saves a significant amount of time over our previous runs and it is definitely what allowed us to push the time down significantly lower than the 1 player time. I don't do anything during the boss fight to avoid lag until the moth opens. Having two people ensures a quick boss kill.

Stage 4
This stage is of course similar to base 1. There are more rooms in which the cores are in diffierent sides of the screen and it really lets us save time when splitting up.

Stage 5
The spacing in two players allows us to run through the bombs without stopping. It's great. By the time the base stages are done, most of player 2's timesaving contributions to the run are gone. Because of this my goal is to hop out in a way that causes time. I achieve this pretty effectively with the tank/plows.

Stage 6
I was testing a setup that would allow me to die twice, but it ended up locking the screen for a bit. This ended up causing an ideal global timer. Once I'm out of the picture the stage pretty much plays out the way that it does in the one player run.

Stage 7
I stay out and let DK do this stage, it goes optimally and I don't have a lot to add.

Stage 8
I tag back in here to chip in. It definitely helps on the first midboss. We stagger a bit to help with the spread pickup. The last tricky thing of the run on my side is keeping the spread stream up, the spiders spawn very close to you. We've also got to destroy the last mouth in front of the heart as the game lags if he's not taken out. Once that's taken care of, we're all set.

Low% with 2 players: 0:10:34 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll, David Heidman Jr.

Get Flash to see this player.

No author's comments provided.

0:09:53 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll

Get Flash to see this player.

No author's comments provided.

Low%: 0:11:15 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll

Get Flash to see this player.

No author's comments provided.

0:09:31 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll (Japanese version)

Get Flash to see this player.

No author's comments provided.

Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.