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Contra's spread shot remains the coolest power-up in gaming

September 24, 2017 2 min read

Let me take you back for a moment to five-year-old CJ. There I was, playing the family NES in my parents’ bedroom. The system came with Mario and Duck Hunt packed in, so for the first few years that was all my brother and I played. Eventually, we added other games to our collection, notably The Legend of Zelda, and as he got older we were given chances to start renting games. One of those games was the NES classic Contra, and when I first got my shot at playing after my brother died a dozen times or so, it was my turn to watch my swoll soldier get a bullet to the brain with nearly every step he took. Playing solo or together, we sucked at that game.

Then we figured out when you shooting those floating capsules you get power-ups. I remember getting the laser and thinking it was cooler than a Ninja Turtle marathon, but it wasn’t until I saw my brother land the spread shot that I realized just what cool really was.

Here we are, fighting what we would eventually learn years later is an alien invasion, dying before we can even beat the first level. But once he picked up that spread shot, we made the game our bitch. My luck would only land me the laser and fireball guns for most of our playthroughs. He always seemed destined to get the spread shot, and with it, we actually made it to the second level like the mother-fucking badasses we were. It’s a shame they only made two levels for Contra becau-

What’s that?

There are actually seven levels and what I remember as us totally owning the game is nothing more than a diluted fantasy developed by a brain trying to keep me from the terrible realization that for the longest time we totally sucked at gaming?

That can’t be true; my brain doesn’t like me that much.

Either way, we were shit at Contra until we discovered the spread shot and every time I find myself absolutely crapping the bed at a game I can’t help but think how much more awesome I would be if it had a spread shot. This may be the most nostalgic reasoning for all of my Destructoid Discusses prompts, but fuck it I love that goddamn power-up and I dare you to tell me it isn't simply the best.

Contra's spread shot remains the coolest power-up in gaming screenshot