Contra! Oh wow, what an enormous piece of my childhood this game was. I originally played Contra on the original Nintendo system when I was 8. I haven't had a working NES in a good ten years, but I swear my fingers would still remember how to beat this game if I picked up a classic control pad.
And that's my number one complaint about this download: I'm terrible at Contra on a keyboard. Despite that handicap, it's still nice to revisit old childhood memories.
The premise of this game is pretty simple: You're dressed in army fatigues, you've got a big gun, and you've got a jungle full of bad guys to deal with. It's mostly a classic side-scrolling action game in the same tradition as Castlevania or Metroid, though there are a few differences. Some of the levels are played from a behind-the-character perspective instead of in side-scroll mode. I don't like those levels nearly as well, as they involve much less blowing-up of stuff and I find the perspective somewhat awkward, but they are still fun. There are of course power-ups that give you different kinds of weapons so that you can more awesomely dispatch your enemies, and jumping is as important as shooting when it comes to keeping yourself
alive. Finally, I have extremely fond memories of Contra's 2-player mode, where you can play cooperatively (against twice as many enemies) and achieve much more impressive levels of destruction, but I'm not sure how well that'll work on a keyboard.
To be good at this game, you have to memorize your enemies' attack patterns and be fast enough to exploit the weaknesses in them. One hit kills you. In classic arcade fashion, you start out with three lives and three continues and once those are used up you get to start all over. There is no save function in Contra, so if you want to beat the game, you have to have the time to play start to finish. That probably sounds frustrating. It is, but it's also incredibly satisfying when you make it past a particularly tough area. Don't let level 5 get you down.
My review may be a little inaccurate because most of my experience with this game is with the Nintendo version, and this download is the arcade version. I believe that the arcade version has fewer levels and easier bosses. Hopefully that'll help compensate for the handicap imposed by my keyboard. ;)