Day #230: Contra: Hard Corps


I’m proud to announce that I broke a speed-running record today.

Bet you didn’t know that about me. Yup. I’m a “runner”, as they say. Got a few undocumented records under my belt. Still trying to confer with the Twin Galaxies folks to see how I can get my name in the books. I will now, of course, have to tell them of my epic Contra: Hard Corps run today. Under an hour, no continues. Never even got hit. Please, no autographs, I’m in the middle of a typing thing right now.

Full disclosure, it was a “tool-assisted” run. Those are rather common in the community, I’ve been told, though my tool of choice may be seen as a bit… unconventional.

Okay, it was a Game Genie. I cheated my way through Hard Corps. Look, that ain’t just a catchy title.  It’ll really roger you.

On a late Hump Day afternoon, few things are more cathartic than ripping through droves of exploding enemies with a flamethrower, and I wasn’t in the mood to have that feeling torn away from me whenever I happened to get hit with a stray bullet. No, on this day, I was going to fire up a podcast and finally see beyond the first two levels of Hard Corps, leading an invincible wolfman cyborg into territory that I’d never been skilled enough to see before.

In my defense, I’ve never actually met anyone that’s enjoyed a game in the Contra series without some level of cheating. That’s not say that they’re bad games, quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that the attraction one would have to the constant torrent of chaos on screen is often hindered by the frequent stops. Firing up a cheat code eliminates that, turning the game into more of a sightseeing venture. While something is obviously lost in that process, the sights to be seen in Hard Corps are still pretty incredible and inventive. There are design concepts in the later levels that I’m not sure I’ve seen since. It’s as if the difficulty acts as a rite of passage, ensuring that only the best players get to see all of the insane late-game content.  It feel novel now, though that exact philosophy was the lifeblood of the medium for ages.  In a modern context, I couldn’t imagine being a developer and creating so much content that most of the audience would never get to see.

Much has been said and maligned about how modern games are easier as a rule, but as time passed, our need for repeatable trial-and-error experiences went away. No longer are we the consumers that stick with the same game for months because new purchases were rare and expensive. Even in the absolute height of my Sega-obsessed youth, I didn’t have the patience to see Hard Corps through, so I was never exposed to the greatest of the cyberspace constellations or the mad scientist that fused enemies together in his machine to create eldritch abominations.  As someone that’s been exposed to the weirdest and most esoteric games imaginable, a twenty year old game still managed to surprise me.

You should probably play Contra: Hard Corps now if you haven’t already, is what I’m saying.

Also, it’s dangerous to go alone. Maybe take this.




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