If you think you've played every Contra game, you'd be... wrong! Enter Super Contra 7, an unlicensed pirate game that aims to take the Contra legacy from the NES to the next level! Alright, it's not quite as spectacular as I have described, but at the very least, it's a moderately impressive feat. Super Contra 7 was "developed" by E.S.C. Co. Ltd., a company you'll probably never hear of again. It was also re-released three years later (presumably NOT as a Greatest Hits title) as Super Contra 8, but only differing in its title screen. Super Contra 7 is, essentially, a mash-up of several different games in one but maintaining the general gameplay of Contra (or, more accurately, Super C).
Although the main characters (Mad Dog and Scorpion) and most enemies remain intact, everything else is a hodge-podge of heteromorphic activity. The first stage is actually set in Metro City, courtesy of Mighty Final Fight, a NES chibi-adaptation of the mainstream Final Fight series by Capcom. The second stage is copied liberally from Shadow of the Beast, which is a feat in itself considering that game never received an NES port. Even the boss fight is ripped from that game. Additional aspects of Super Contra 7 come courtesy of Shatterhand (NES) and the original Contra. This could very well be considered a video game remix of sorts, and, surprisingly, the elements actually work well together. The only new part of this game is the music, which appears to be originally composed. It's poor, though, and hardly qualifies as enjoyable fare.
But that's not all that's been tinkered with: they mucked up the power-ups, they did! You automatically get to use the machine gun, so at least the dinky little pea shooter you normally possess is gone. Those floaty balloons which contain power-ups float by often, but they take more than one hit to open up, adding to the frustration factor. The Spread Gun, formerly the greatest weapon known to Contra-loving mankind (excluding the great Homing Gun from Operation C on Game Boy), is now weak and uninteresting. The Laser and Fire Guns also make their return, along with a 'B' for Barrier, making you invincible for a seemingly useless amount of time. There was also a rapid-fire power-up (with an 'R', obviously), but instead of giving you any weapon upgrades, you gain an extra life. Take all the Rs you can get. R, matey.
One of my biggest qualms is with the difficulty: it's even MORE unforgiving than the original, which is quite telling, considering that the Contra series is already well-known for being impressively hard. The first stage is tough enough with constant swarms of enemies, but the second stage will simply blow you out of the water. Enemies are swarming from both directions with no stopping and you have to leap from platform to platform while dodging these alien beasts, all the while keeping an eye for flamethrowers that only fire when you get close. That's absolutely insane and only suitable for the most hardcore (or downright unbalanced) gamers out there; even Contra fans could denounce the difficulty of this. The classic "30 Lives" trick won't save you, although the newly-embedded "50 Lives" trick may help. As well, the vertical level where you ascend a waterfall will result in cheap deaths, too: you're shot at as soon as an enemy appears above you on screen, leaving you little time to dodge. The bosses are quite a handful, as well, but that goes without saying. But you'll spend more time dodging all the projectiles, unusual gross droplets that turn into enemies (à la the final battle) and ridiculous enemy soldiers that decide to run straight into the battlefield with a devil-may-care attitude and a death wish. It's funny how they're typically no more than one colour.
Super Contra 7 is hard. It just is. But if you love Contra, as well as other unrelated video games, this is your haven for gaming. Just be prepared to be extremely angry after a few minutes. Check out these screenshots and judge for yourself how much this one could sting: