In 2633, the evil Red Falcon Organization have set a base on the Galuga archipelago near New Zealand in a plot to conquer the world. Two commandos, Pfc. Bill Rizer and Pfc.
Lance Bean of the Contra unit (an elite group of soldiers specializing in guerrilla warfare), are sent to the island to destroy the enemy forces and uncover the true nature of the alien entity controlling them.
Contra ( Gryzor / 魂斗羅 ) employs a variety of playing perspectives, which include a standard side view, a pseudo-3D view (in which the player proceeds by shooting and moving towards the background, in addition to left or right) and a
fixed screen format (in which the player has their gun aimed upwards by default).
When the character jumps, he curls into a somersault instead of doing a conventional jump like in other games.
The joystick controls not only the players movement while walking and jumping, but also his aiming. During side view stages, the player can shoot leftward, rightward or upward while standing, as well as horizontally
and diagonally while walking. The player can also shoot in any of eight directions, including downwards, while jumping. Pressing the joystick downwards while standing will cause the character to lie down on his stomach,
allowing him to avoid enemy fire and shoot low targets. When the jump button is pressed while crouching on a higher platform, the player will drop down to a lower level.
The players default weapon is a rifle with unlimited ammunition that can be upgraded into one of four other guns. These can be obtained by destroying the pill box sensors and flying item capsules containing them,
or by defeating the red-clad guards in the enemy bases. They consist of a machine gun, a laser gun that shoots a powerful beam, a fireball gun that shoots its rounds in a corkscrew pattern, and a spread gun that sprays
bullets in five directions. There are also three auxiliary power-ups that only appear in certain areas when the player is armed with his default gun: a rapid bullets upgrade that increases the firing speed of the players shots,
a barrier that makes him invulnerable for a limited period, and a bomb that wipes out all onscreen enemies. With the exception of the machine gun and the laser gun, each item comes in the form of a Falcon-shaped symbol marked
with a letter representing its function (F, S, R and B).
The first stage is a side-scrolling level where the player is dropped into the jungle and must fend off the enemys initial line of defense until reaching the entrance of the first base and destroying the large sensor.
The game switches to the pseudo-3D view in Stage 2, as the player must fight his way through a series of passageways . The player proceeds to the goal by destroying the sensors in each corner in order to shut down the electric
current blocking each path. Stage 3 is set in the core of the base, where the player must destroy a set of flashing sensors positioned above him in order to expose the target at the top of the screen and destroy it.
Stages 4 through 6 follows a similar pattern to the first three stages, with Stage 4 being a vertically-scrolling level set in a waterfall in which the player must jump his way across various platforms until reaching
the entrance of the second base at the top.
The seventh and final stage[b] returns to the side-scrolling format from the beginning, as the player fights his way through the enemys final line of defense (which includes a hovercraft, armored trucks, and giant
helmeted soldiers) while proceeding through areas such as a snowfield, an energy plant and a hangar, until reaching the aliens lair, where the regular enemy soldiers are replaced with otherworldly creatures.
The player must fight a giant alien head that spawns larvae from its mouth before reaching the final target, a heart that must be destroyed in order to complete the mission.