Sometimes it's like Microsoft is sat there mocking us with the dire quality of certain Xbox Live Arcade games. And if Microsoft's having a giggle at the public for buying them, Konami must be regularly hospitalised with the endless belly laughs it's having at our expense. The odd piece of retro crap like Yie Ar Kung-Fu, we can tolerate. We even learned to have a modicum of fun with Green Beret after re-learning how to play it. But throwing any old back catalogue rubbish onto Live and calling it a 'retro classic' is, at best, misleading. Clearly not everyone's got the concept of 'classic' gaming nailed down.
Some people might hail the early Contra games as some kind of late '80s arcade treasure, and that's fine. At the time they were certainly popular, and, if you were around at the time, these brutally tough side-scrolling shooters were generally warmly received. But gamers have the unerring tendency to confuse the issue of classic gaming with the plain old nostalgia value surrounding certain titles, or their influence at the time. Classic gaming in the truest sense of the term ought to transcend the era it was made in. It should resonate as a great game as much today as it did when it came out. Super Contra is simply not even close to fulfilling that criteria - and yet here it is, joining the ever-growing pile of undeserving titles to be squeezed out of Konami's festering retro-bowels onto Live Arcade.
So, here are the facts: It's a direct follow-up to the 1987 arcade shooter Contra and once again features the same grizzled war veterans, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. And just like last time out, they're busy countering some sort of inexplicable invasion somewhere in deepest South America. In December 2634. Against their former (now mutated) comrades. It matters not, because all that's important is the fact that it's a regulation side-scrolling shooter with big weapons, masses of enemies and the kind of steep learning curve that will leave modern gamers in a crumpled, bloodied heap. You big load of softies.