After the success of the first two Contra games on the Nintendo Entertainment System, Konami wanted to try their hands at developing a Contra game on the Game Boy. In 1991, Konami teamed up with publisher Ultra Games and released “Operation C” for the hand-held system. The Contra series is known for being extremely fast-paced with tons of action. Would the Game Boy version be able to honor the previous games and supply non-stop action?
Operation C takes place one year after the events of Super C in the year 2635. Our favorite run-and-gun tag team is back with Bill and Lance, the alien killing, gun-toting commanders. Let’s take a look at what the manual says:
“Corporal Lance (Code name: Scorpion) is no slouch when it comes to man-to-alien combat. He and his partner Sgt. Bill “Mad Dog” Ko have twice defeated Red Falcon, the most despicable villain to overtake a planet…or at least try. But the danger is not over yet.
The vile Black Viper has come from deep space to finish what Red Falcon started. And he did not come alone. Black Viper has transported a battalion of battletron tanks, stealth subs, laser cannons, and annihilating androids. Now, from a secret naval base on a desolate ocean island, he is planning to unleash his hideous secret weapon: a new mutant breed of killer aliens.
Armed with an array of devastating weapons, Scorpion’s new mission is to infiltrate the five freak-laden levels of the enemy base and put an end to the madness – and Black Viper – once and for all. As he prepares to enter the secret army base alone, be knows it will take more than sheer firepower to wipe out Black Viper’s horrific horde of mega-mutants. Scorpion will have to keep his eyes peeled sharp for unceasing assault by artillery snipers and keep his wits about him as he leaps into battle against grotesque genetic mishaps. The revival of the aliens must be stopped and the ambitions of the evil Viper vanquished forever!
I was nervous that the Game Boy version of Contra would be heavily toned down with the action and speed. Thankfully, I was very wrong. You’ll get plenty of action on the screen although not as overwhelming as previous Contra games but all sprites appear clear and there’s no screen tear or flickering.
You’ll play through five levels of action on your quest to take down Black Viper all while listening to a great soundtrack. There aren’t many tunes that I listen to during video games that stick out but the programmers did a great job with Operation C. During the end credits, there’s a fantastic end track that fits perfectly into the end of the game.
During my playthrough of Operation C, I picked up the spreadsheet weapon right away multiplying my bullets by three. Shortly afterward I picked up a second upgrade that activated a homing device that made my bullets chase enemies. This made me near unstoppable within the first minute of the game and I never switched weapons afterward. Contra veterans will know how valuable a homing weapon is with all the enemies attacking from above, below, and everywhere in-between.
The first level boss was a submarine that emerged from the water. I was able to destroy it within 15 seconds as my bullets tracked the guns on the ship. After the first level, and like the other Contra games on the NES, you are given a top-down view as you make your way through level two. I didn’t mind this and I like that it changes the gameplay but I do enjoy the side-scrolling levels more. The second level felt like it was in a train freight station as I navigated through it. There were a few tanks that needed a good blasting and the final boss ended up being a train tank but as the first boss, I took care of him rather quickly.
Level 3 returned to the roots of Contra, no pun intended as it was a jungle. The tops of the trees rustled and there were wall-mounted guns as well as the ones that popped up from the ground. You’ll make your way through a jungle before climbing up multiple cliffs by jumping onto rocks while enemies shoot at you. The third boss was challenging and I died a few times. It was a boss that had two portions, one flying above you stabbing you with poles and a platform that had guns. The key was jumping on the platform and focusing on the hovering machine.
Again, level four turned the view to a topdown as you make your way through a giant bug cavern. There were plenty of egg sacks to destroy as little bugs escaped from them. This level was a bit challenging because the spreadsheet takes time to track the enemies so I had to back off a few times from charging enemies so my bullets could properly find them. Once you reach the end of the cavern you’ll face a giant spider with a ricocheting laser.
The last stage is set in a high-security lab where you’ll face soldiers, lab creatures, and plenty of security guns. The final boss looked like he was in a mech from Gundam as he hopped around the screen firing rockets and detachable claws. Once you defeat him you make your way into the secret chamber and let loose on a glass tank that is housing a strange alien brain. It has no defense so after you blow it up the credits roll with a helicopter flying away from a smoking island.
It had been years since I had played the Contra series so I was excited to give the Game Boy version a go. I’m happy to say it fits nicely into the series.
Operation C takes the best parts of Contra from the NES and shrinks it down onto the Game Boy. There are no issues with speed or enemy flicker as the game is packed with solid action. Operation C is a bit easier than previous entries in the series and you’ll quickly beat it but you’ll have fun doing it.
Operation C scores a 7.9 out of 10.
Do you remember when Operation C first came out? How did you feel it held up compared to the previous Contra games? Were you able to beat the game and if so, who was the hardest boss? Let me know your memories and thoughts, I’d love to read the comments.
If you’d like to own a copy of Operation C, you can purchase a used copy of it for the Game Boy for $30 on eBay.