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Released in April 1992, Contra III features the same shoot and destroy action as the previous two Contra games. Contra III offers harder gameplay  than Contra and Super C, and is a favorite among fans. Red Falcon is still trying to take over the world and the solution is to shoot everything that moves.

Contra3   Contra3

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Hard Difficulty with 2 Players: 0:13:38 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen, Jonas 'Hurblat' Martinsson

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Author's comments:

Mr. K's comments:
Live streams:

Special thanks:
BizHawk - I think I'm probably this BizHawk's biggest fan. BizHawk is what really let us crush last year's run. Without this emulator we would not have been able to complete this run in the amount of time that we had to work with. We would also not have been able to brainstorm and execute our strategies to the levels that we did. We were really methodical about strategies this time around. We had an accurate measurement of lag and we could compare the time saved or lost using different strategies with a frame counter. I was on a long and desolate journey in search of accurate as SNES emulation. ZSNES was utterly atrocious. SNES 9x 1.43 did such a poor job emulating lag that the current two player run on TAS videos is at least a full minute faster than it should be. Of course the emulator is CPU intensive nerve few steps to install better but it is so worth it. Thanks to all the people who made this possible.

Mike- kudos to you for being the first person to actually speedrun this game on hard. The time and effort you invested into this game is really help me stay with it. We very much appreciate your support.

Pasky- I have to thank you for being an absolute genius. It's not enough that you worked on BizHawk, it's not enough that you were able to reap the code to understand how the games randomness works, you also created the box viewer. That was tremendously helpful for this run. On top of all that you're a cool guy and you like to keep us company on our stream. We will reenact that intro for you. I promise.

Nate- How can we ever express our gratitude for all that you do behind the scenes for the site? Thank you so much for everything and keep up the good work.

DK 28- we certainly underestimated your Contra prowess. I regret to say that I missed out on a lot of your skill and humor while I was falling through the super C abyss. It was great to have you at the conference. I'm sorry you missed the lion share of contra III but there will be a next time.
The devoted stream viewers- we ended up not streaming our Contra III attempts due to technical difficulties but we very much appreciate all the support we received from our small but devoted following. I mentioned do all a bit more specifically in my Contra comments.

Frezy- You know I forgot to mention you in the contra comments but I feel absolutely terrible about it. You've really been an inspiration to me and Hurblat. You've made contra speedrunning what it is and we can't thank you enough. Hopefully we can carry on your legacy and do you proud. Part of the reason why I speedrun contra III is because I never thought that I'd be able to match your times in the first two games. Now if we could just get you out of retirement...

Heidman- what can I say? The discipline and intensity that you bring to your games is commendable. You've got that speedrunning mindset. When you told me that you read every forum post and watch every submission that comes through SDA I didn't believe it. After I got to hear you cursing your phone for not loading the forums for week I finally did. The way you always push your games to the limit has helped inspire me to keep going.
Hurblat - My kindred Contra spirit. It's been a blast. I suppose I don't have to tell you how I feel. You already know. Contra III for life.

Player one -Hurblat
there's a specific reason why Hurblat is player one for this run. Player one's job is pretty similar to what happens in a one player speedrun of this game. Player one will have the same weapons from stage 1 all the Way through the rest of the game. The only thing new to learn is the positioning.

player two - Mr. K
Thanks to some changes in route planning player to gets to use a wider variety of weapons. There's a bit of peashooter in the first stage in the lots of laser through the remaining stages. I am player two in this run. A big part of that is because I've done a fair number of speed runs of this game with the laser for no good reason. Well that's not entirely true. I've also got a lot of practice using the laser in the top few stages in my death warps run. Hurblat has the current record for any percent so I think it's safe to say that he's pretty well-versed in all things crush.

This is probably the best speedrun I've ever done and it will probably be the best speedrun I ever will do. Hurblat and I did a run with savestates and thought our best was 13:40. This beat it by two seconds.

Stage 1
the positioning is a little weird in this stage. Hurblat is a little bit further ahead of the center screen. This puts a minute bad angle for collecting the barrier and it means that I need to jump and hit it at a weird diagonal angle and even then he has to jump to collect it. He then has to damage the ground turret and the first sniper. The barrier does not instantly destroy enemies in this game and so I have to finish the ground turrets off. As we move toward the café I turn around briefly on purpose to adjust my positioning so that I can efficiently collect the first laser upgrade. I have to shoot the enemies over Hurblat's head or else he will get hit. The laser allows me to take out most of the problematic enemies before they even have a chance to fire a shot. I'm thinking of you second sniper shooting comfortably from that ivory tower of yours.
Heidman was the inspiration for our next strategy. Usually in a speedrun it's slower to get into the tank. The tank moves at a decent speed, but the animation of getting into it takes too much time. In our case Hurblat can stay ahead and keep the screen scrolling and as long as he keeps the screen scrolling we don't lose any time if I lag behind getting into the tank. This works well because then we don't have to worry about any enemies coming up from behind. Also notice the slight increase in forward momentum as a move the tank forward while Hurblat is on it. Perhaps the best part about this strategy is that having an artillery gun that's as large as your head chasing you a hair's distance apart makes Hurblat less than inclined to slow down. I help off the tank at the last second to take out the bomber up top and to get off a shot on the core. I lag behind Hurblat as we approach the gas pipes. Since he is able to keep the screen scrolling we ultimately don't lose any time. It's definitely not a good day for that enemy tank. Using our combined firepower were able to get through the section that we affectionately call the volcano without using a bomb. Getting over the parabola of fire is a bit tricky. Our sprites slightly overlap but they're a little bit staggered that it makes the timing for the jump especially difficult.

The boss fights is random and interesting to say the least. Point blanking the turtle has a 20% success rate in single player, but having a second person shooting makes survival much more consistent.

Stage II
if you were wondering why we play two player A then here is your answer. The screens are split apart and each player can go in his own direction. In two player B mode both players have to be on the same screen. A mode lets us split up. It's almost worth watching stage two twice, it's really impossible to keep track of both of us simultaneously. The angle with two players is extremely awkward in the window of time that we have to react to things that come on the screen is razor thin. We both do very well. Hurblat has an especially good stage. This goes very very well for both of us.

There's not much to say about this boss. The angle is different in two players. Once you learn it there's not really much to it, at least in any %.

Stage 3
I use the lasers to snipe the snipers as we move right. After we do the midboss I die and Hurblat does the climb alone. The game lags too much to keep player 2 alive. Keeping player 2 in costs 17 seconds worth of lag. I still get to keep crush on one hand even though I lose all my lives which is awesome. Double crush and crush/laser pretty much wrecks everything as far as the rest of the stage goes. In case you're wondering why I have laser, the range helps in stage 4 and it also makes the boss fight in stage 5 much more consistent.

Stage 4
There's not a lot to say here. Having double firepower just shreds everything and that includes the first tank, the tightrope soldier, and the jetpack assassin. The boss fight was even crazier than last time. That last shot Hurblat got for the kill was crazy. This is the fastest boss fight we've ever done.

Stage 5
Stage 5 turned out well for both of us. I had no spawns and Hurblat did very well. We killed the boss in one cycle. The boss has a very small hitbox and having the laser helps make some of my damage a bit more consistent.

Stage 6
After the first midboss, we both have double crush and everything gets demolished. The screen doesn't finish scrolling on the heart and the crawler gets wrecked. The gargoyle can be instakilled, but we were 1 hit away. ONE HIT AWAY. It's the only thing in the run that is not perfect/very very good. Ah well. The queen fight goes well and the brain fight is only 3 cycles in 2 player. Hurblat's orb selection is on point. Armor brain doesn't get to do anything and that's game.

Low%, Easy Difficulty with 2 Players: 0:13:23 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll, Joseph 'joecoolgames' Hamblin

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Author's comments:

Continuing the saga of DK and Joe, we attack aggressively on Contra III with Easy Low%. This run was a little more difficult to do, but still had successful results.

Quadruple Pea Shooting Carnage!

The City - Basic strats again, we don't destroy the Sniper Tower to save on lag. Shout outs to Zallard1 for giving us the idea for one of the strongest poses of all time while on the Tank. Turtle Power!

The Sewers - Joe with the menuing again! LOL. No time lost as I get the perfect stage. We bomb the Spider to speed up the kill and not have to Tango as much. Joe dies anyway so he gets his bomb back.

The Industrial Center - Simple playthrough. Good pattern on the Driller and the UFO kill was nice. The Twin Robots gave us a really good pattern. The Big Bot could be tightened up a little. More aggressive Death Abuse would help, but this was still acceptable.

The Highway - Good Acrobats for doing Low%. The Wheeler was done well and the Jetpack Ninja we took easy since we can't speed it up anyway. The most routing we did was for the Carrier. And it went off without a hitch. One bad flare from RNG, but I went all-in towards the end for the kill.

The Underground - Best stage 5 we've done. And Joe got the quick kill on the last pod. The Mound put up a fight, but we handled it well.

The Lair - One cycle Mouth. Cleaned up the Gauntlet. Quick Heart kill. One round Crawler. We didn't quite get the Gargoyle. He can be one round, but the execution has to be perfect. One cycle Queen. The Brain screws us on the Orbs, but no matter. The Brain will always take two cycles. Even with Bombs, on Low% you just can't do enough damage.

Good low% co-op overall, I had a lot of fun doing it. The best part was reminding Joe to suicide to abuse his bomb stock.


Low%, Easy Difficulty with Deaths: 0:14:46 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll

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Author's comments:

Contra III, the runs just keep on coming.

This improvement came about as a joint project of sorts. Joecoolgames was talking to me about some route improvements for the Low% category, but also was undecided about what he wanted to do for a project. So I suggested we both tackle this category, I would do the Death Abuse run and he would do the Deathless.

Death Abuse in Contra III Low% essentially means you get more bombs. You aren't allowed to pick up items, but you respawn with one bomb in stock for each life. So the foundational strat is to use the max lives available, SDA allows this since it's a programmed option, then detonate where optimal.

Pocket Nuclear Warheads...

Stage 1 - Only change here is the point blank Turtle. This allows faster damage and two bombs. The time save at best is half a second or so.

Stage 2 - Standard Spider bomb, no route changes here.

Stage 3 - Pole skip in the beginning to save frames! The first phase bomb on the mid-boss, this isn't necessary but makes the one cycle very consistent. The bomb on the Twins combined with great RNG made for a good fight. Bombing the Boss Robot causes massive lag, more than usual, so I opt for the fire jump and mashing weapon switching instead,

Stage 4 - Basically an auto scroller. I bomb the Acrobats, good thing because he jumped all over and would have taken longer to kill. The Jetpack Ninja gave me the best pattern, lucky! The Carrier could have been a little better if I'd killed the top turret sooner, but still a good fight.

Stage 5 - Probably one of my best stage performances here.

Stage 6 - One of the most treacherous Gauntlets and I execute flawlessly. The Heart and Crawler are destroyed. Missed one cycle Gargoyle by one bullet. Perfect Queen though. Wrong first Orb on the Brain, but no time lost. Good finish with the Blue Orb.

Looking back, I'm very happy with this run. When the run stands up over repeated viewings, you have a winner. Contra III will just never let me go.

All that new Pea Shooting tech though...

Easy Difficulty with Deaths, 2 Players: 0:11:58 by Jeremy 'DK28' Doll, Joseph 'joecoolgames' Hamblin

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Author's comments:

More runs from The Contra Conference 2014! Joecoolgames wanted to do a co-op of Contra III Easy Any% and I thought it was a good idea. Here it is! We originally thought a good chunk below 12 minutes was good. After routing and playing, we realized just barely sub 12 was actually optimal. Thanks to Mr K for helping with the route even though it's on Easy. He was even playing Easy mode to test things!

Because why not?

Stage 1 - This stage was great, our sync was real. Even with the Turtle humping, we took him down.

Stage 2 - We lose a second to menuing but whatever. The stage and Spider went so well, I'm not complaining.

Stage 3 - Another glorious stage. We kill player to, because you gain 17 seconds of lag climbing the wall. Good game design. Mr K strat here, go all in on the Driller, it works. Joe picking up his second Crush was the hardest thing to get down. Next K strat, cornering the Twin Robots.

Stage 4 - Autoscroller... Decent Acrobats, but the highlight is that perfect Wheeler Mid-Boss. Killed him before he hits the ground! Carrier fight was too good.

Stage 5 - Better menuing and great ground game destroying the Pods. Joe death abuses to save time and still gets the lucky Crush drop. Mound is decimated.

Stage 6 - This stage is too fast to comment on. The Gauntlet was the only part to worry about. Heart is wrecked before it's even on screen. Crawler only shot three spores. Zero cycle Gargoyle? Yes please! Queen doesn't even try. Brain doesn't even matter.

Sub 12 FTW!

Low%, Easy Difficulty: 0:15:13 by Joseph 'joecoolgames' Hamblin

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Author's comments:

Thank you SDA staff. This is my first time submitting to SDA. This is Contra III on Easy with no items and no deaths, which apparently counts as a category, so I decided to improve the time. I have to say that not using items is one way to make easy mode much more difficult. This run has come down to grinding for good RNG and perfect execution.

Stage 1- Standard, as always, for Contra III. Under the fire is a bonus.

Stage 2- Almost missed the 3rd bunker, but I turned around at the last second and got him while still moving. Tango with the spider was good.

Stage 3- I did not get the one cycle on the spinning mid-boss but it does not cost any significant time. One improvement over the previous run is jumping over the fire on the Terminator boss. This saves a lot of time because I can kill it in one cycle.

Stage 4- Decent acrobat luck. The Carrier boss went very well because I use the one bomb that is allowed in the run on it. It saves the most time here because it damages both turrets at the same time during a part where I can't shoot at them.

Stage 5- I pause for a second before the rock skip in the very beginning because I wanted to see what the fire centipede was going to do and I did not want to die. I was several seconds ahead on my splits at this point. The boss went pretty well. There is a point that I stand at where I do more damage to the eye than the worm. It saves a few seconds because he will close his eye one less time later in the fight.

Stage 6- This is where the only major mistake is. On the crawler/Super C boss, I did not correctly time when I was supposed to stop shooting the face during the first phase. Had I correctly timed it, I would have prevented it from having to burrow and it would have charged me again immediately. This costs a few seconds. I quickly make up for that by getting a 2 cycle gargoyle fight. Getting a 2 cycle is extremely difficult and requires you to jump above the bosses head and do maximum damage both times. I am extremely happy I got this in the run. The queen was nice for once and did not reach for me. I then picked blue orbs very quickly and destroyed the brain in 2 quick cycles.

Overall this run had better than average luck and many execution improvements. I would say that a perfect time would be 15:07 with the current strats, but would require the best luck possible and absolutely no mistakes.

I want to thank Mr. K for being a great help with strats and DK28 for creating a tough run to beat and encouraging me to get this done.

The earth is safe for now...

Low%, Hard Difficulty with 2 Players: 0:17:08 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen, Jeremy 'DK28' Doll

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Author's comments:

The Contra III saga continues. This run... I will say that this was probably the hardest co-op I've done. This game is crazy on hard as it is. But Low% is brutal. Luckily Mr K was my partner! As hard as it was, it's still so much fun to play with Mr K, so it wasn't too rough to go for this.

The Depths of Madness.

Stage 1 - Arguably the hardest stage to speed run. But we nail it. And we invented the Contra Slide on the Tank. Turtle gave us a really good pattern too.

Stage 2 - We get the bad Pod pattern, which is good for me. I prefer it this way so K can help with the last Pod. I don't think there's much time difference. I die a couple times. These deaths don't matter as the last Pod doesn't ever die until K is there to help anyway. Plus, I die in Stage 3 for the wall climb anyway.

Stage 3 - Avoiding the bugs, a difficult task. I bomb the Mid Boss for speed then leave the game. But then I tag in for the Driller fight. And then leave again. Up top I appear again to destroy the UFO. WE then ascend to the Bosses. The Twins give us fantastic RNG and we one cycle the Terminator.

Stage 4 - This whole stage went really well in my opinion. All the Mid Bosses. The Carrier. Had bad Flare RNG, but we still wrecked it.

Stage 5 - Great menuing and we both finish at the same time, nice! The Mound proves a challenge. This is probably the hardest Boss, especially with the split screen. We do what Contras do best.

Stage 6 - It's go time. We are short on lives and have to execute flawlessly. The Mouth, the Gauntlet, the Heart, they all fall victim to the Two Man Wrecking Crew. The Crawler takes one life, but doesn't take time or our momentum. The Gargoyle is finished quickly. The Queen doesn't know what hit her. The Brain, I have one job to do! Orb selection, I execute 100%, 6/6. Unreal. Armor Brain time, I flub a jump and decide to sacrifice myself to save Mr K. It was worth it.

Enjoy the Sad Ending.

Hard Difficulty: 0:14:14 by 'FCJ2000'

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Author's comments:

First off, I'd like to thank:

- TheDrifter18, for his Hard Any% tutorial;
- Mr. K, for allowing me to tap into his extensive knowledge of the game;
- Hurblat, for opening my eyes to lossless local recording at the correct framerate;
- Those few who frequent my stream to watch my attempts, I know it's not easy to watching my reset 90% of runs on stage 1, but I wouldn't have been able to put any runs together if it weren't for you all to keep me company;
- Laxxus, cause he's the man.

I remember in 2011, I finally decided to buckle down and beat Contra III for the first time, and it was at that point I came across Hurblat's legendary 14:42. My mind was completely blown, and though it would be seven years before I
try speedrunning myself, the run left an impression on me.

Looking back on Hurblat's run, there really hasn't been many new strats found then (besides the ones mentioned below), so it surprises me that the current run is a thirty second improvement. It always amazes me how much time can be saved by
by simply tighter movement.

I'll quote a commenter in the verification thread for the stage-by-stage analysis (with my own replies when warranted), since they were pretty spot-on:


Stage 1 - The new run was half a second faster during the stage. I couldn't immediately tell if this was due to any specific new strats or just tighter play.
The boss fight was 1.5s slower though due to a safer strat being used.

Reply by FCJ2000: the half-second time-save was mostly do to improved lag-management. One key improvement was to avoid shooting the tower at the beginning of the stage, the explosion animation is very conducive to lag.


Stage 2 - 2.5s faster stage thanks to better movement and better enemy RNG (less enemies blocking the path).
The boss was dispatched in about the same time in the two runs.


Stage 3 - Around 3s faster stage. Contributors to the time save were the quick kill on the 1st phase of the 1st mini-boss and improved routing in the last climbing section.
2.5 additional seconds then saved against the boss by a faster 1st phase (I assume it was because of the different strats used in the new run).


Stage 4 - While the walker miniboss fight was around 1.5s faster, the latch guy was around 1.5s slower. The slower fight somehow didn't lead to any time loss though. Is there some kind of frame rule for when the phase with the stage boss starts?
A very aggressive boss fight then added two more seconds saved to the account. The aggressiveness led to the first of two deaths in the run. While this death didn't look intentional, it didn't cost any time from what I could see either.

Reply by FCJ2000: The speed at which you defeat the latch guy (or jetpack-ninja as we like to call him) is irrelevant, as long as you defeat him before the helicopter stops descending. This is why I did not lose time over Hurblat's run.


Stage 5 - Very impressive stage. 7.5s saved by less hesitations, better enemy RNG and a death warp near the end. The death warp is fairly obvious from looking at the map, so it would be interesting to get some more background to why it hasn't always been included. Does it require very precise positioning?
The boss fight was 1.5s slower. Not entirely sure why? Did the smart bomb create additional lag? It would have been nice to hear why the strat now includes the smart bomb.

Reply by FCJ2000: The death warp is typically not attempted, because when you die you lose one of your crush power-ups. If this strat is attempted, you need a crush to drop from the last spawner in stage 5, which has about a 25% chance of occurring. Otherwise you will likely lose 10+ seconds against the boss,
and probably lose your chance at a PB. In my case, I had already taken an unintentional death against the stage 4 boss, losing one of my crush power-ups. Therefore I had to go for this very risky strat, since the run wouldn't have been able to PB otherwise. Fortunately it paid off. Unfortunately, in order
to improve this run, one will likely also be required to go for this strat, and hence lose 75% of their runs here.


Stage 6 - Most of the mini bosses had time saved, but also 0.5-1s lost against the crawler. The last mini boss is also worth mentioning. Despite a very bad pattern with the right arm shielding the brain both times (none in the current SDA-run), time was still saved thanks to what appears to have been more efficient mashing (and targeting?). Overall 4s saved during the stage, but I'm guessing this is the stage where the most time could still potentially be saved in the run.
The last boss was 6.5s faster. Instead of relying on gray orbs in the first phase (like in the current SDA-run), red orbs were used (considerably faster cycle than the gray orb). Considering how the damage on the last boss works, I wonder if this is just a new and better strat or a known, but riskier/more aggressive, one. Regardless, it paid off big time.

Easy Difficulty: 0:12:11 by 'TheDrifter18'

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Author's comments:

Contra III is a longtime favorite of mine since I was just a little kid. I started speed running around 2013 and was hooked on the hobby ever since. The major optimizations for this category are lag management throughout the entire run and a few movement improvements.

Reset City - Saving time in this stage is pretty tough. Only thing to improve would be some lag management.

Skyway – I get a 4 input bunker select which is not good. Can save at least a second or so with better luck. Centipede blocked the path before last bunker. Not a huge time loss. Other than that the Movement was really good and the boss went down without a fight as usual.

Steel Factory - First mini boss I shot a little too many shots and caused some lag. Can save at least a second with better lag management. The 2nd mid boss I took out in 1 cycle no problem. UFO I got the quick kill. No time saves there. The climb after UFO I missed the ledge skip which can save close to half a second or more. Luckily I didn't die missing it. The Twins give me a pretty good pattern which allowed me to kill them both at the same time. Terminator kill is free as usual.

Highway - This stage has some important quick kills than can make or break the run. First is acrobat. He gives me a really good pattern. He hardly jumps around at all. Second is the skater mid boss. I missed the quick kill but only lose maybe half a second. Last is the Battleship fight. I optimized the fight a little bit by adding some extra shots as you jump away from the exploding barriers and finish with a suicide kill. Overall I would say there is about a 1 second time save in this stage.

Nesting in the sands – I get a decent bunker select with only 1 input. I normally go left route but some people prefer right because you have a slight chance of getting crush on the last bunker. I like left route because you’re guaranteed a Flame or Laser on the last pod. I do the death warp (or ledge skip if you prefer) which allows you to skip the narrow zigzagging ledge on the top left of the map. The warp saves about 1 second with optimal movement and good RNG from the bugs. Shout outs to Tropical PWNch for finding it. No bugs got in the way so very good luck there and got a Flame on the last pod. Laser is a little better but Flame still gets the quick kill so very small time loss. Overall very good stage.

Red Falcons Lair – I get pretty good luck for most of the gauntlet but on the last ledge before the heart a random alien tries to end the run. I manage to avoid him and the alien behind me. I lose about 1 second there. Golden beast and Gargoyle both go down in 1 cycle no problem. The Queen gives me the slow double extended arm pattern making it easy to quick kill. The final fight on the brain I decide to go all in and hope I get an eye orb. The old strat was to get the red orb and use a bomb to clear them from the brain. With the eye orbs you don’t need a bomb but have to dodge the orbs as they fall while mashing into the brain. It’s risky but saves about 1 second. I get insanely lucky and get the eye orb sealing victory!

I know this run can be improved by at least 3 or 4 seconds with some better RNG and lag management and obviously good execution.

Special thanks to Tropical PWNch for teaching me the game and the whole contra crew for all the amazing support. Remember to attack aggressively!
Follow me at

Hard Difficulty with Deaths: 0:05:24 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen

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Author's comments:

Special thanks to:
Mike Uyama for our friendly Contra III rivalry, for capturing this run from VHS and for the comment that inspired this run:

"I wonder if a run could skip all of the side-scrolling stages like this in real time. I have no idea how you would check your score though. :-/ " Well, QED

Cpadolf & DarkCloud for their Tool Assisted glitch runs. I stole their stage one strategy and got a rough idea of how the run would go by watching their videos.

The whole team at SDA for not accepting mediocrity. Nate for all of his work encoding runs.
And a special thanks to my girlfriend, Rhianna, who is yet to be convinced that the pinnacle of manliness has been manifested in 16 bits, but puts up with my obsession anyway.
To Konami, for making a game that seems so unnecessary to compliment, and for letting such wonderful things happen when you earn a life after losing all of yours in their Contra games.

This run uses a weird glitch that allows you to skip levels.

How does it work?
Apparently, the way the game handles completing a level is the same way that it handles a game over screen. When you lose all your lives the screen fades out and when you complete a level, the screen fades out. When the screen fades out, the game checks to see if you have any lives remaining. If you don't, it's game over. If you do, it registers that the level is complete. If you manage to lose your last life, the screen will start to fade out. If you can manage to earn an extra life during this time, you disturb this delicate balance. The game decides that since the screen is fading out and since you have an extra life, you must have completed the level.

How do you pull off something like this?
The trick is that screen does not start to fade out until your character gets hit, falls back and fades away. It's something of a long animation. The only way to do it would be to detonate a bomb just before you get hit and time it in such a way that it destroys an enemy that's required to earn an extra life after you die and disappear

Is that all there is to it?
No. You have to set this up so that the bomb you set off just before death is able to destroy an enemy that will get you the points that you need. This means that you will need to know what the point values are for all of the enemies on a stage and know almost exactly what your score is. The other challenge is the timing of the trick. If you detonate a bomb and kill off an enemy before your character gets hit and disappears, the screen will not fade out and you will simply gain an extra life. If you do it too late, you risk not setting off the bomb at all or not doing enough damage to your target to defeat it and get the points.

How do you do this trick without being able to see your score in real time?
This is where the run and route planning gets interesting. In some sections of the games, the enemies are fixed. In some sections they are not. You do get to see your score at the beginning and end of each stage. The trick is to get a rough idea of where your score is going to be and then execute the glitch in an area where the enemies are a bit more predictable. I had to do this without pausing because Mike said that it would count against my time.

Why do you use the laser in the top view stages?
Using this glitch involves dying and dying means losing your weapons. Unless you can manipulate drops like the TAS does, you're only going to be using one weapon. The laser is the best single weapon to have in top view stages.

Stage One
I've got a bit of a delay here at the first sniper, but everything else goes off without a hitch. The only trick is to pick up the laser before using the glitch.

Stage Two
I pick the bottom left corner because I can cut my losses if I get the bad turret pattern. It doesn't make too much of a difference here. Running around and the bunkers could be a bit faster. The boss could be a bit faster, but it's not much of an issue.

Stage Three
Where I do the trick here depends on what my score is. I end up doing it on the third sniper. It goes well. With some serious score manipulation you could do it a bit sooner and save time, but you have to make some concessions here. Things like this are extremely hard to control.

Stage Four
I choose to continue here because I don't have any bombs. The TAS has a bomb because it ends stage thee right at the spot where you pick one up. Again, I can't do that. I'm in a bit of a spot here because killing three bikers gives an extra life so this is why I have to settle for taking out the jet pack soldiers. Performing the glitch in hard mode on the bikers is nigh impossible. They can't be destroyed with a bomb. Even with the delays, it's much faster than finishing the entire level.

Stage Five
I was not lucky enough to get C in stage four. I was able to get L (It was a bit risky and it did cost some time) and from there I do the corner trick and hurry through the stage. The boss fight was not that great, but it wasn't bad.

Stage Six
This stage turned out to be amazing. My score was in an almost perfect spot. I kill a few of the running aliens, bide my time until I get a good group ready and then perform the glitch. Sweet victory. The glitch makes you skip out on the ending cutscene and goes straight to the final screen with Bill and Lance in uniform.

Low%, Hard Difficulty: 0:22:47 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen

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Author's comments:

I hate low %. This run was a real pain. I'm going to be improving this run soon, but I need to take a break for a while. Planning this was a bit hard because this is the first run in this category and there aren't any tool assisted runs in this category.

Special thanks to:

Hurblat: For being the man. As my friendly Contra rival, thank you for helping me to stay motivated during this agonizing run. I hated doing a low % run so much, but you always encouraged me and I definitely appreciate it. Also your stage 3 and 4 suggestions were quite helpful
Mikwuyma: For being an awesome Contra and for helping to keep SDA going for so long. Enjoy your retirement and keep speedrunning
Nate: For maintaining the site and answering my stupid A/V questions
Heid-manrage: For being such a strong advocate of low % runs and speed in general. This run is not worthy of your low % Super C run, but I think my next iteration will be worthy of staying in the same room
DK28: Your low % runs were probably what got me started thinking about a hard mode low % run. You've done a lot to keep Contra interest alive. I know that Mike, Hurblat, and I will always tease you about doing your easy mode runs (as well we should), but I'm glad that you did them. It really helps to know that people still care about this game.
Mater-88: For your excessive praise, which my runs do not actually merit. It helps me not feel like a loser after spending 30 minutes trying to get past stage 1
Frezy- We desperately miss you at SDA, and your low % Contra run helped inspired me to do this
My Ustream viewers: These are the people who would watch me die 5-6 times in a single playthrough. Thanks to Something915, lxx4xNx6xxl, Random Uppercut, Evussen, Kareshi, Romscout, and many others. If I missed any of you, my apologies, but know that I really appreciate the support. I can't tell you how many times
SDA in general: For being such an incredible site

Tricks used during this run:

Rapidly Switching Weapons
(Props to DK28 for first demonstrating this in a run)
You can switch weapons in this game without any delay. You'll see this used to the fullest extent in an any % run when crush guns are used.

Glancing Shots
The peashooter shots may look very small, but they are still a few pixels wide. If you fire in such a way that only the very sides of the pixels will hit a target, the shot will damage the target, continue on, and hit another target. I really only use this at the beginning of stage 6, but it's extremely helpful. This is what allows me to destroy the mid boss from the first Contra much faster than I could without it. Since the angle of this is so precise, there are very few places in the game where it can be used. You might notice it when fighting the alien queen from Super C later in the stage where you hit the red core and eye at the same time.
Stage 1
I'm still tinkering with the strategy here, but this one didn't turn out too bad and the boss fight was pretty well optimized. Optimized means that the boss does not reach after you with its head or spay fire. I think there is a 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 chance of getting this pattern. Also, I hate stage 1.

Stage 2
It's possible to kill the bunker in the top left in one cycle, but it's very, very hard. The problem with these bunkers is that if you strike at a certain angle the shot will hit the solder in the bunker instead of the bunker itself. This prevents the bunker from being destroyed in one cycle. The hitbox for the soldier in the bunker is two narrow strips bordering the center. Getting this is hard because in order to destroy this bunker you need to switch weapons back and forth which means switching arms back and forth which makes it harder.

I don't want to talk about that boss fight. My run is tainted and I must wipe away my tears on the butt of my rifles.

Stage 3
There's not much to say here. The boss patterns of the drilling enemy can be manipulated, but I haven't been able to get it perfectly yet and it's pretty difficult to keep those patterns up for the entire duration of the fight. Naturally the fight is much longer with low %. Someday, I would love to defeat the stage three boss in two cycles, but at the moment, evading those homing lasers just makes it too hard.

Stage 4
Not much to say about stage 4. I manipulate the jetpack soldiers before the tank fight so I won't have to jump multiple times during the fight. The tightrope soldier fight is purely luck based and I don't make out too bad. Yes, you are perfectly safe if you stay at the very left side of the screen and shoot diagonally. I move out just a little bit. I don't chase the soldier around because while you might be able to get a few more shots in, you also have to spend time defending yourself and the risk is too high. The first part of the boss fight went well. I had a bit of bad luck and positioning so there's not much more to say here.

Stage 5
Other than a bad spawn near the bridge there isn't much to say about this stage. There also isn't much to say about the boss fight other than that I am lucky in that I don't have to lose my positioning due to the fire streams.

Stage 6
I hate stage 6. I use glancing shots to take out the first mid boss fast. The path to the heart is a test of skill and faith. I do play it a bit defensively on the heart, but it's not terrible. I may try and optimize this a bit more in the future. This is the ideal spot to use a bomb because the heart and pods all need to take damage so I get the most time savings out of it. Using the bomb here also eliminates protects me from the homing projectiles which means that I don't need to turn back. The crawler fight went well as did the gargoyle fight. I had an optimal pattern during the queen fight which allowed me to take it out pretty fast. The brain fight went pretty well. I accidentally got two snake patterns, but it didn't end up costing me too much time. The final form also went pretty well.

Thanks for watching!!!

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