Thursday, 16 February 2017

Norrin_Radd Plays - Super C (NES 1990)

The perfect way to follow up Contra is with the sequel, Super C! This time in 60fps. I might actually go back and re-render the Contra video at 60fps now that I see how much better it actually does look (though, it takes about 4 times the rendering *groans*)

Super C was one I only rented a single time as a kid. I distinctly remember thinking it was way too hard. Even with the Game Genie. Even with a 10 lives code. The game was just brutally difficult for a 7 year old to wrap his head around. Unlike Contra, Super C seems to have a lot more variety. In enemies and challenges. Not all of them feel perfectly balanced, but the game has razor sharp control and rewards supreme button mashing skills. So, it's a game that challenges the player to "beat" it, for all of it's short comings.

Though a lot of the game's difficulty can be beaten by reflex and button speed, the game does also have some pretty cheesy "gotchas" that can't really be avoided until you know they are there. Most Nintendo games are positively rotten with this though, so I can't fault Super C now. But as a kid, it all kind of worked against the game.

That's not to say it's a bad game though. In fact, I think if you were to weigh everything together it might even be a superior game to the original. There is just more going on. More bang for your buck. More chances to mash, more bullets to dodge. More enemies to kill. It's a hectic game that throws a lot at you. Sometimes a unique enemy will only appear once or twice in the entire game, which makes it very hard to prepare for or figure out at first, but the fun thing about Contra is that the game is still so well built that you really do feel like you are testing your skill with every new and zany challenge.

All of this variety though does have a down side. I feel like the purity of the experience is diluted only sightly. There is something magical about the pacing and the level design in the original game. And of course, you do have to compare the years they were made and retrograde your ranking. Contra was 1987, and was a remake of an arcade game of the same name that was almost terrible.

They took that original arcade game and turned it from a quarter muncher to a game that rewarded the player for being good at it. Even though the entire game can be beaten in under 20 minutes, it does not relent for a moment, and the penalty of even the smallest mistake is death, and the loss of your power ups. the original game seemed to be a perfect balance, where as Super C appear to take everything to the next level for better or worse.

Playing through both of these games again has been very fun. These were two games that I really made an effort to become good at in my later teens, and the game play still holds up. Everything about these games, from the music, to the graphics, to the controls to the level design really just does embody all the best aspects of the NES. The Nintendo Seal of Quality was legit as hell back then. Where games can actually be made better on the NES than in the Arcade is a clear turning point for the gaming industry.

As a little aside, I was too young to really notice the implosion of the home game industry with the Atari. I was so young that even crappy games seemed novel and fun to me. But when I started becoming slightly more sentient as a person was right around the time the Nintendo was cleaning up the mess of the early 80s home console scene. It was simply perfect timing for me to grow up along with the industry. That's why I think games like Contra and Super C resonated with me so much in my later teens, and still to this day. There is a purity to the experience, and a savagery of the experience that really still does seem relevant to this day.

If you want to know how a great game should *feel*, replay these two games and remember that sometimes it is not asking too much that the player be good at the game. But it is also not asking too much that the game be good.

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