One of my oldest friends, from all the way back in elementary school, was in town last weekend. My friend Jimmy wasn’t in Dallas very long this time, but he did stop by the house for a few hours. I didn’t remember to drag him into the home office to see the arcade cabinet until he was fixin’ to leave.
I showed him the menus, and I shuffled through the list of games and systems for him. Then he said to me, “Do you have Contra on this thing?” Of course I have Contra on this thing!
I’ve only been playing lonely, single-player games on the arcade machine for the last year or two, so I had to set things back up for two-player cocktail-mode split-screen. The player-one joystick was acting up a bit, too, but some aggressive back and forth action on the controller straightened that right out, and before we knew it, we were playing some co-op Contra just like in the old days!
Back in the day
I specifically remember hauling my Nintendo down to Jim’s house one time, and hooking it up to the TV in his bedroom. This was back when Contra was still relatively new. There were probably four of us crowded around that little old TV that night: me, Jim, Marc, and Chad. I’m certain that we made it to the end of the game that night.
I’m not sure if we had to continue or cheat that time, but we most definitely finished the game. We were much better at this type of game back then.
I was also remembering another time when I was playing Double Dragon in the little arcade down at South Side Bowl with my friend Chad. We must have fed a whole roll of quarters into the machine that day, but we made it right to the end of the game.
We had just finished off the last guy, and I still had my baseball bat. We were just wandering around the screen waiting for more bad guys, but they never showed up. I ended up walking off the bottom of the screen into the spikes, and Chad ended up winning. We didn’t know we were supposed to fight at the end!
Back to last weekend
Jim and I ran out of lives very, very quickly. I punched in the Konami Code and got us our 30 lives, and we were off to try again. Things went much better this time.
We were near the end of the sixth level when Jim ran out of guys, and I didn’t have many left either. I didn’t recall what sort of boss was going to be there to meet us at the end of the stage, but I wasn’t expecting to get past him. I have no idea how I managed to survive, but I just barely killed that big, ugly cyclops.
I sacrificed my last few remaining lives so that we could continue and get Jimmy back into the game. There were just two stages left, and we didn’t have too much trouble getting through them. It only took 45 minutes, the Konami Code, and one continue to get us through an entire game of Contra!
This is exactly what I built my arcade cabinet for, and it is probably the most fun I’ve had with it yet! Jim and I probably played Contra on the Nintendo for years back in the eighties. It was awesome being able to do it again over 20 years later. I hope we get a chance to do it again some time!