The Last Level In Contra

What is the deal with the last level in Contra? We all know the infamous Konami code (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, B, A) – after all it’s the only way you could get to the end level of this particular game. I have never heard of anyone every finishing the game using only the two initial lives you get at the start of the game. Honestly, the level of difficulty with that kind of handicap is up there with the SNES Star Wars games. I’ve been trying to beat the last level in Empire for like 17 years; but I digress.

The level starts off okay. You are in the lair of the dreaded Red Falcon, who’s purpose and intentions are never clearly defined during the course of the game. I guess we’re are suppose to assume that there is this alien that somehow assembled an end-less army of dudes that have no actual affiliation with each other than maybe being paid mercenaries. Which brings up the question of how is an alien financing this army? Did he get a job and open up and aggressive stock portfolio investing primarily in high yield mutual funds?

The whole premise seems really odd that this alien has a whole island to himself, completely isolated from the rest of the world and is (A) running basically a small country with an decadent military budget that makes the US look like cheap-skates and (B) stirring up so much trouble that the Red and Blue guy have to come in and completely decimate his living situation. Then again it’s 1987, the Regan administration is trying to bankrupt the country with the Star Wars project, the “ME Generation” is joining the workforce and apparently anything is possible so let’s just go with it.

Back to the last level which is very reminiscent of the alien liar in James Cameron’s Aliens which had just come out the previous year. For 8-bit graphics it’s pretty awesome, so I’m excited.

After a short stroll you encounter the first bad guy. I’m told this is the Red Falcon, which is weird because you would think the main bad guy would have a better defense than a few flowing alien flunkies and a cubicle partition. But it’s pretty obvious he is in a static position an can’t get around which brings me back to the initial plot holes I pointed out. How is an alien monster that can’t get around commanding mercenaries, making extremely profitable financial investments, and causing trouble?

After you defeat the Red Falcon’s face you trek along for some time before coming to the heart of the matter.

So you have to shoot the Red Falcon’s heart until it blows up, contrary to a real heart which does not in fact blow up when shot; but these are the physics of the Contra Universe. If you shoot something it will blow up, kind of like every Michael Bay movie. I think he learned everything about directing from this game.

So after you shoot Red Falcon in the face until he explodes, are you in his body? Is the entire lair his body or does the dude’s heart existing outside his body like the Pirates of the Caribbean’s Davy Jones? I mean, if that is the case, you would think, okay I shot him in the face until he exploded, he’s dead, so why is his heart still beating? Or alternatively, if the guy is dead, what is the harm in letting his heart keep beating?

Even stranger is that after you blow up the heart the entire island explodes. Was the heart keeping the island alive or was the Red Falcon the entire island? Don’t get me wrong, the game is a lot of fun; it’s just a very odd and unsatisfying storyline.

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