Greetings, readers! This is Amanda writing the intro because I am sick of being left out of MAN Challenges. And WHAT A Challenge it was this time! It seems that the other writers decided to compete viciously over a game. The “contra” game I guess, judging by the title they told me about, maybe. They had an email thread going and I sort of looked at it a few times and it seems like Billy Holiday and Jeremy P were getting angrily competitive. Over Contra? I don’t even know what that is.
(Please note the videos below are not us playing, and it is nowhere as easy as they make them seem. Also they are from the Rising mode, which allows power and health upgrades. We were only allowed to play arcade, which gives no upgrades, and only a 3 hit life bar)
It started innocently… Jeremy had sent me an email saying something along the lines of, “Have you tried this new Contra? It’s so much buttrock!” As I am a giant fan of both Contra and buttrock, I decided that I should check out this game immediately, and wow, he’s totally right on both counts. Hard Corps Uprising is pure Contra action, along with one of the cheesiest metal soundtracks I’ve heard since the Turbografx CD system– trust me, every single shooter on that thing should have come with chest hair and spandex. After getting past the anime graphics, it was pretty apparent this would be a solid Contra experience, because I got my ass beat on the first level. After getting the “perhaps this would be a good MAN Challenge…” post, I got to work– after all, I am the winner of the only previous Man Challenge, and I have a title to protect.
So, I sat down with a couple beers, an XBox controller, and several hours of time, assuming I’d be able to beat the crap out of this game– I mean, it’s not even called “Contra,” and looks like some ridiculous anime version of 50% of the NES library. I started out the first level blasting everything in sight and enjoying what seemed to be constant homages to the original Contra. You get weapon power-ups by shooting a winged capsule. I had a Spread Gun and a Machine Gun. I saw a few of the standard Contra square cannons. After a few minutes, I was even greeted by a version of the original Contra first level boss, the fortress.
From that point on though, it becomes a new animal. We’ve had our obligatory nods to the previous games, and now it was time to get to business. Unfortunately for me, that business was (and is) the killing of me. The rest of the first level isn’t too bad– until you jump on a bike. This was a glimpse of what else this game had in store for me. This was, I thought, the final boss of the level. It’s a drilling armored car that has a flamethrower on the front. It had a life bar on the side of the screen. More importantly, it was a pretty involved fight with multiple phases. And it killed me a couple times. I took it down on my first run and felt pretty good — until I realized the level was continuing.
I flew off the bike and landed back on the desert floor and then ran into what HAD to be he final boss — it was a multi-piece snake robot thing, where each segment of the snake shot missiles and the head spit out smaller snakes and breathed fire. “Wow — 3 bosses in the first level alone!” were my last thoughts as I watched my last life fall through the cracks and restarted the level. Next playthrough I got through the bike section only losing 1 life, and managed to take down the robot snake after losing another, but now… I was sure I was moving onto level 2! Nope. Another bike sequence where you fight a harder version of that same drilling and flame-shooting armored car, except this one breaks into two pieces and hops all over the screen. I, of course, died to it immediately– ending my progress immediately.
I finally took down the fortress, the first bike section, the giant snake, and the second bike section… and made it through the first level. Holy crap, that took 10 minutes on a “fast” runthrough… think about the original Contra — you could beat that in a half an hour if you wanted to. There are 8 levels in this game, and the first level alone took ten. However, I decided to worry about that later, and focus on the 2nd level, a jungle area where I died in about 20 seconds to a plant that shot gas at me, killing me almost instantly. And then I had to start over again at level 1. Son of a bitch.
Over the last two weeks I have crawled, slowly, through the first 4 levels of Hard Corps Uprising. Every time I figured out how to get past one awful fight, I would die horribly to the next, over and over again. Level 2 has a horrible 2-piece helicopter boss I’ve never made it through without getting hit, followed up by a (much easier) mechanized samurai thing. Level 3 is a series of underground caves that ends in a fight against a transforming ship that you have to fight while riding down rapids on a raft. Level 4 is on the highway, where you have loads of chances to die instantly by bullets and by slamming into wreckage with little to no warning. I have made it on my best run up to the end boss of Level 4, a giant wheel of firey death — a fight I spent 5 minutes on just to die horribly to a stray bullet. I may not have beaten Hard Corps uprising, but I put on a valiant effort.
Until this contest, I thought I was pretty good at Contra… I mean, everyone can beat Contra on NES with the 30 lives code that we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives — even as we lose control of our own bowels and forget the names and faces of our grandchildren / coworkers / cats, we’ll all be endlessly mumbling up up down down left right left right B A (just one B A for the last time!). However, I was able to beat Contra as is — with 3 lives. It was a game my brothers and I played for years over and over even past the realistic life of the NES. You can keep your Xboxes and PS2s — we played Contra (alright, we played the XBoxes and PS2s as well… but we did still play Contra). Hard Corps Uprising reminded me that I was not good at Contra — I was good at memorizing Contra levels. There’s a big difference, and it’s the major difference between being a run-and-gun champion, and being really patient. I’d like to think that over this challenge I’ve hit a happy medium between the two.
Jeremy P. end results:
- Top Score – 21,265,952 (World Rank 295)
- Time Played – 11 hours, 11 minutes, 14 seconds
- Total Kills – 19,631
- Farthest Objective Reached – Level 4 Boss, 2nd Form
I felt a rare sense of optimism when talk of the 2nd OMGJeremy MAN Challenge rolled around. I felt pretty good because the game that was chosen was “Hard Corps.” A Contra veteran and all around HELL OF A MAN, I figured I’d have more luck with this fine game than that pile of way-too-difficult ass that was Super MeatBoy. Okay… I don’t hate SMB… I just still wake up in those sweats every now and then swinging wildly. We’ve had to go to the emergency vet four times because of that.
I started the game off enthusiastically. No matter what I may say in this little piece, I will go ahead and let it be known that this is a great game. If you are a fan of the Contra series and long for the days of the simple, side-scrolling, don’t ever stop pressing that fire button era of games, then this is your jam. Level 1 functioned properly as a warm welcome / kick in the ass. Immediately I noticed that unlike other Contra games, you could take a few hits before dying. This doesn’t mean you’re taking your anime-inspired killing machine on a walk own Easy Street. The first level will take a few tries before you start to really get it down, and even more attempts before you can complete it. This was the case for me. Memorizing patterns, learning what guns to hold on to and which to avoid, and at one point in time slamming the back of my head into a wall so hard that I tried to curse immediately after but couldn’t get words to come out.
All of that aside, Level 1 eventually became not only easy to get through, but easy to get through without taking a hit. This was crucial in the MAN Challenge. We were aiming for the highest score, and many things factor in. How fast you can get through a level, not taking hits, making as many widows and orphans as possible, all of it plays a huge part. I would constantly get an A ranking every time through.
Then Jeremy “Shit” P got an S ranking. A damned S. It took me a long assed time to get an S ranking on Level 1, but for some reason on 2 I had no troubles at all. For a long while I eventually got an S on 1 and 2… and I was for a glorious day or so the leader in this challenge. Though I was happy to be in the lead, I secretly hoped Jeremy P would quit playing so I wouldn’t have to pressure myself into getting another high-scoring game again. I was seriously sweating and getting short of breath during the duration of my best run. But I knew a perfect score was needed on 1 and 2 to make it to the top. Of course I also made it part of the way through Level 3.
Level 3 is a rat bastard. Enemy shots seem to follow no clear pattern, and the first instance of death via inescapable bullshit reared its ugly head. The end boss of Level 3 is also the biggest fucker of a boss I have seen in a long long while. It’s a turd-ship that fires missiles, lasers, bombs, piss, and will make you realize that you have no reflexes nor coordination.
Jeremy P would go on to re-take the score, and I knew that in order to get back on top I would have to get past Level 3. I did, and I have regretted it ever since. Level 4 of Hard Corps is probably the hardest level of any game I have ever played. It is made even more difficult by the fact that in the MAN Challenge continues were worthless. Your score resets if you have to continue, so you better collect all those damn hidden 1Ups you can and do your best to stay alive. Level 4 is busier and has more stuff zooming in and out of it than a whore’s vagina. Cars fly by and stuff happens so fast that I really had to just say “stuff happens” instead of providing details. I CAN NOT EVEN REMEMBER it all happened so fast.
The Level 4 mid-boss needs to go die. That is as far as I made it. Sadly though, it was not enough. Jeremy P wins another MAN Challenge, but at least I put up a good fight this time. I really appreciate the competition and I hope he does as well. We brought out the best in one another.
Not Jeremy. Jeremy sucks and is a big poo-diaper baby.
Big poo diaper baby?! I’ll show…well, nevermind. Yeah,so I pretty much just totally failed this challenge. A challenge that was ironically my idea to begin with. I was like, “Hey! It’s Contra! That would be a fun challenge to do with the other guys! Yay!” Unfortunately for me, I was unaware just how much of an asshole this game was. What I initially played was the first level, which seemed hard but doable. It was fun, old school Contra shoot-em-up stuff. I then asked what everyone else thought about it, and it was agreed upon that it would be a worthy challenge. I was so confident in how fast we would plow through it, that I gave it a week to accomplish. I was positive that all of us would at LEAST beat the game, then it would just be a matter of how much extra shit we would be able to collect over each other. In the end, we’d all have a good laugh about it, sip on some lemonade, and relive all the great times we had with Hard Corps.
Two weeks later, I was drinking heavily, Jeremy P began screaming randomly at himself, and Billy couldn’t turn on the 360 without openly weeping. And none of us had even beat the third stage yet.
To be blunt, Hard Corps is probably the hardest game I have ever played. And I don’t mean in the way that Super Meatboy was hard. That game made being hard fun. No, Hard Corps is just the biggest asshole of a game ever. Once you get past that first stage, you’re met with NES Silver Surfer-like bullet Hell difficulty. At any one time, there is maybe 75% of the screen filled with things that will kill you. And while you do sort of have a three hit life bar in this game, you may as well just lay down and die if you get hit once since you’ll lose any sort of special weapon you had. Leaving you with the basic pea shooter default gun that may as well be a stick you throw at the 3290290 enemies on screen at any given time.
I managed to get to the midboss on the second stage. In between the bullets coming at me from all angles, and blades being thrown at me that I somehow couldn’t dodge for shit, I decided to go ahead and throw in the towel. Yes, I took the bitch way out. I actually sat down several times to play again, but I would just sit and stare at the title screen, unable to progress. This was hard for me, since the original Contra was the first game I ever beat (WITHOUT the code, even). Hard Corps had all but broken me within two levels. It was a blow to the gut, no doubt.
I won’t make this worse by posting my final stats. Trust me, they’re far away from what Jeremy P and Billy managed to do. Next time, I’ll choose my enemies better. And my games.
So, let’s show the end results one more time, all together :
- Jeremy P. – 21,265,952 (World Rank 295)
- Billy – 18,547,451 (World Rank 355)
- Jeremy – 675,035 (World Rank 10,644)
The champion of the 2nd OMGJeremy MAN Challenge is Jeremy P, retaining bragging rights over 2 other people he will never meet in real life!
We have one voice. We speak as ONE ENTITY sometimes. Like now!
We also can be contacted as one entity: firstname.lastname@example.org