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Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and the arcade
Release Date: Feb. 20, 1987
Why this game mattered: Want to fight in a futuristic world against some crazy aliens in a constant stream of bullets, explosions, and utter chaos? Contra is your game. It's an exciting, classic run-and-gun game with platforming elements and a punishing difficulty curve. It's the perfect two-player experience. This game was primarily an arcade experience, but the popularity of its two-player action solidified Contra's place in gaming history on the NES. While this game was one of the toughest to beat, using the "Konami" cheat code as the title scrolls across the screen could make your experience a little easier.
Fun fact: One of the earliest games to feature the Konami Code, Contra spawned several sequels over the years. It really earned its claim to fame in the arcade, but the co-op is why it's one of the best games from the '80s.
Future games influenced by this title: While the Contra series continued for many years with visual and story improvements, the popularity of this franchise spawned many shooting titles. Metal Slug, arguably the most popular Contra-like game, also continued on for many years due to its simplicity and addictive quality.
Where you can play it today: You can experience Contra and other classic Contra games now on Nintendo Switch Online.
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