One of the most radical video games of the 1980s, Contra, is poised to make a big — and unexpected — comeback, with a movie and TV series being planned for the long-running sci-fi action franchise.
Konami announced last week that the classic game will be turned into both a live-action film and a dramatic television series, which sounds like a very ambitious plan for a game whose heyday was 30 years ago. The original incarnation of Contra was released in 1987, and its strange mashup of ’80s action movies and political buzzwords made it one of the biggest hits on the still fairly new NES console. Named for the Nicaraguan rebels who played a major role in the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration — but who didn’t function at all in the plot — Contra was about an elite group of U.S. guerrilla fighters in the distant future who battle an alien plot to take over the world.
The game’s protagonists, Pfc. Bill Rizer and Pfc. Lance Bean, bared striking resemblances to the biggest action stars of the day, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, and their extraterrestrial adversaries were dead-ringers for Alien‘s Xenomorphs. But despite the derivativeness of its inspirations, Contra was still an extremely fun game and is today remembered for its difficult gameplay, iconic sound effects, and unique weaponry, often being cited as one of the best games of its era.
And while the franchise is mostly considered a relic of the ’80s, it never really went away, and even released a new console game as recently as 2011 — one that didn’t even have “Contra” in the title. But with ’80s nostalgia running at an all-time high right now, perhaps the time is right to call back to the original in the form of a movie and TV show, and maybe capture some of that magic that made the first game so fun way back when.