Corridor 7 (PC)

A dear childhood Doom clone guilty pleasure!
The alien invasion has begun…

Corridor 7 was released by Capstone in March 1994. This month marks 23 years. Wow, if that doesn’t make me feel old. I vividly remember buying this game in the summer of ’94 and loving the crap out of it. It used the same engine as id Software’s Wolfenstein 3D. Unfortunately for Corridor 7, Doom came out just three months prior and blew everyone’s mind. Suddenly, the Wolfenstein engine was looking a bit archaic. Corridor 7 was a day late and a dollar short. But that doesn’t mean it’s a terrible game. I liked it a lot as a kid and it definitely has some charm to it. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane.

On a side note, be sure not to miss the interview I conducted with Corridor 7 programmer, Les Bird, toward the bottom of this review. Thanks, Les!

IT ALL BEGAN IN 1992…

This was quite the sight back in good ol' 1992
This was quite the sight 25 years ago

Often considered the grandfather of the genre, Wolfenstein 3D made a big splash upon its arrival back in May of 1992. Mowing down Nazi soldiers and zombies left and right was a formula for success. Sure, there were other first person shooters that came before, but none put the genre on the map quite like this one.

This provided a rush like no other game in '92
The classics never get old. No siree

Wolfenstein left a lasting impression to say the very least. Few games could match the sheer intensity of gunning down a room full of Nazi guards. It was an adrenaline rush like none other. id Software struck lightning in a bottle, but this proved to be only a stepping stone…

Who could forget the first time seeing Hans Grösse?
Who could forget the first time seeing Hans Grösse?

As great as Wolfenstein 3D was at the time, it was just the beginning…

Doom was nothing short of a revelation
Doom was nothing short of a revelation

Released December 1993, Doom took players on a wild ride through the shores of Hell. It was essentially to the first person shooter genre as Street Fighter II was to the fighting game. And just like Street Fighter II, when a game creates such a stir, rival companies come out of the woodwork to throw their name in the hat eager for their own slice of the pie. The early-mid ’90s was flooded with Street Fighter II and Doom clones. Most were rather uninspired, but a few rose above the pack. Whatever the case may be, one thing was for sure… we had more than our fair share of choices.

Can you imagine a cover like this going over today?
Can you imagine a cover like this going over today?

One day in early 1994 I made my weekly voyage to Software Etc. at the local mall. Typically, I would stare at all the cool SNES games I could never own. But on this particular day a little CD game caught my eye. It was a one level preview of a new Wolfenstein clone called Operation Body Count.

No one ever got more out of one level than I did
No one ever got more out of one level than I did…

But what attracted me to this one level preview was Corridor 7: Alien Invasion. The back of the package featured a small picture of a massive purple alien stalking you in a creepy decaying corridor. It blew my 10 year old mind and looked exactly like the kind of game I would have made myself! I convinced my mom to buy it and the rest is history.

A haunting image that mystified me to no end
A haunting image that mystified me to no end

I played that one level preview of Corridor 7 probably 500 times. I absolutely loved it. My dad eventually bought me a copy of the full game later that summer at this little mom and pop shop of all places. They had it at a discounted price of $20 and my old man bit. I studied the manual the whole 20 minute car ride home, reading about the weapons and monsters until I damn near memorized it. Even back then, I was obsessed with spreading the word on obscure games. Corridor 7 became that under the radar title that I championed as a 10 year old kid. I told all my friends about it. I even called it C7… it was my attempt to sound cool but obviously to little avail.

THE STORY GOES…

"Let's bring this mysterious object back to Earth"
“Let’s bring this mysterious object back to Earth”
"I mean, what's the worst that could happen?"
“I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?”
"OH CRAP"
“OH CRAP”

THE ALIENS

animprobAnimated Probes are very efficient and very fast. Most of the probes respond to sound, but some are set to ambush you when you enter a room or corridor. Luckily, these probes don’t do a lot of damage and do not have a lot of health.

ailoprobThis alien is primarily a sentry, used to alert other aliens to your presence. Ailoprobes move slowly, do little damage, and by themselves are not much of a threat. Ailoprobes usually travel in packs, however, and can bring other aliens swarming in on you.

rodexThese little devils travel in packs and attack quickly. Although Rodexes don’t do a lot of damage, if they surprise you, they can hurt you plenty. Listen for their unique squeal when they enter a room. You can punch holes in them from a distance with the M-343 or the Alien Assault Cannon. More of a nuisance than a threat. The big boys are soon to come…

bandorBandors disguise themselves as common everyday objects such as chairs, barrels, file cabinets, potted plants and so forth. They remain in these forms until they can surprise you, usually from behind. Bandors carry heavy weapons and can inflict a lot of damage. Stay alert and listen for their morphing sound. You can put a few holes in the Bandors before they finish morphing. Bandors are extremely loyal to their own kind. If you kill a Bandor, others in the area generally rush to the scene.

nerrawNerraws roam the alien levels and don’t appear until level 31 in the CD-ROM version. Although he looks harmless enough, he can kill the toughest marine in only a few seconds. Shoot first and make sure the little bastard stays down.

semajSemaj look like puddles of purplish slime, and they probably are. These creatures slink around the alien levels, waiting to grab your legs while you wage war against the other aliens. These aliens do not have any weapons, but they do have nasty sets of teeth that tear through the thickest body armor. Don’t let one slither up to you while you waste his buddies.

eitak

These ugly creatures are the main guards of the alien levels. Eitaks are well armed and can do a bit of damage, especially when you encounter them in numbers. These aliens are well enough armored to shrug off a few rounds, but sustained fire kills them easily. Try not to fight Eitaks in closed areas; they are a good shot and generally pour into the area to help their own.

tenajThese aliens are the main technicians in charge of making the atmosphere alien-compatible. The Tenaj generally work alone but can be found in pairs. They’re smart, quick and likely to ambush an unsuspecting Marine. Although they represent a formidable threat, they are not heavily armored and are likely to turn their backs on you. Use the M-343 or Alien Assault Cannon to blow a few holes in them and pick up any charge packs that they drop.

eniramThese aliens can remain invisible until they fire their weapons. Enirams use this skill to sneak up on their prey and launch an attack. Enirams are not heavily armored. If you suspect that Enirams are in the vicinity, use the infrared mode of your visor to locate and track them. If you lose sight of an Eniram, use the proximity map.

otreborOtrebors are the main technicians that are working to convert Delta Base to an alien-inhabitable environment. These aliens generally travel alone, but they pack quite a punch and can be very deadly. An Otrebor has an evil laugh, but you usually will hear (and feel) its blaster first.

ttocsTtocs are brute force warriors. These aliens are not very bright, however, and they do not move very fast. Ttocs are my personal favorite. Not only do they look intimidating and exactly what I picture a barbaric alien to resemble, but their death animation is simply the best. Their skin melts, leaving a green poo all over their bones. The sound effect is spot on and it’s very satisfying to kill these bastards. Silly note: as a kid I surmised that Ttocs secretly stood for “The Terminators Of Corridor Seven.” Yeah, I was weird… [Was? -Ed.]

mechwarThese heavily armored aliens are used primarily to guard key alien equipment and areas. You can hear a Mechanical Warrior from far away. When you hear the booming footsteps, check your Proximity Map. This alien is best handled from a distance or with a few well placed mines. Be sure to pry the Dual Blaster out of his cold dead grip.

enirambEniram bosses are of the same stock as the standard Enirams but are more solidly built and better armed. These aliens cannot turn invisible. Thank goodness for small favors.

tymokYou can find Tymoks on various levels, supervising other aliens’ work. Tymoks are armed with Plasma Rifles and can burn you into a puddle of goo very quickly. These aliens also are fairly quick and are likely to dodge your fire. Fortunately they work alone. Before taking on a Tymok, eliminate all other threats in the area. You don’t want an Animated Probe chewing up your backside while you concentrate on the Tymok!

tebazilatebazilbThis alien is the last boss that you will face in the game. Tebazile is heavily armored and carries a powerful weapon. To top it off, you have to kill him five times! When you first see Tebazile, he is in his natural form. When he takes enough damage, he morphs into the following aliens: Eniram boss, Tymok, Solrac, and back into himself. He appears only in the CD-ROM version.

solracSolrac is the alien leading the invasion of Earth. You probably will see him several times during the game, however, as his presence invades your thoughts. Solrac carries no weapon but he fires a deadly energy burst from his eyes. Alien weapons do the most damage to Solrac, but your M-343 will do in a pinch.

THE WEAPONS

equip1This weapon emits an electrical charge of lethal force. The taser is self powered, requiring no ammo. I always thought it was pretty cool how your weakest weapon was a “gun” of sorts, as opposed to a knife or your fist.

equip3The M-24 Close Assault Weapon is the standard weapon of today’s Marine Corps. When the trigger is held down, it delivers a lot of firepower in a very short time and is effective against most standard alien foes. For the larger alien threats, however, you better have something with a bit more firepower. Compared to other starting guns within the genre, the M-24 “CAW” is the best of its ilk, thanks to its rapid fire.

equip2This weapon is the latest incarnation of the standard shotgun that has been in service for hundreds of years. Deadly at close range, the weapon loses effectiveness at long range and is slow to deliver multiple shots. The shotgun is available only in the CD-ROM version. It was an attempt to copy Doom‘s popular shotgun, but this one is far less memorable (and useful).

equip4The M-343 can take out most of the lesser aliens in one shot and is effective at long range. Keep the trigger down when you hose down the larger threats; the automatic fire makes mince meat of most aliens in no time at all. This is easily one of my favorite guns in the entire genre. Not only is it powerful, but it’s fast firing and looks totally badass.

equip5One thing I’ve always dug a lot about Corridor 7 is the fact that there are four human guns and four alien guns (complete with its own special alien ammo). It makes the alien guns feel extra powerful, although in practice it’s hard to beat the ever reliable M-343. The Dual Blaster is the main weapon of the alien military. It spews a deadly stream of energy.

equip6You loved the rocket launcher from Doom, eh? Well then, the Alien Plasma Rifle is the weapon of destruction for you. It fires balls of plasma that explodes upon impact. I love the green little scope attached to the rifle; it makes it look really badass!

equip7Find the Dual Blaster to be outclassed by the M-343? Then you might want to check out the Alien Assault Canon. Available only in the CD-ROM edition, it’s basically an enhanced version of the Dual Blaster. It’s faster, stronger and far deadlier.

equip8AKA the DVG (Darth Vader Gun), you know any weapon named the Alien Disintegrator must be pretty damn powerful. This is essentially the BFG of the Corridor 7 universe. Available only on the CD-ROM edition, this weapon of mass destruction can bore a hole through most alien hides.

dropmineMines add an extra layer of depth and strategy to the “mindless shooting.” Once picked up, you can drop a mine anywhere on a stage. It stays there until someone, or something, comes near it. Then KA-BOOM!

ODDS AND ENDS

medpackOne of the cool things about Corridor 7 was how they placed the medic packs throughout the levels. In Wolfenstein 3D and Doom such packs were placed out in the wide open. But in Corridor 7, medic packs are housed in special dispensers. This eliminates the potential of accidentally grabbing one in the heat of the moment.

ammobayWeapon ammo is handled in a similar fashion. They too are housed in futuristic dispensers. I dig the sound it makes whenever you claim the bullets. I can still hear that sound to this day…

bluaccesredaccesLocked doors are a staple in first person shooters. Color keys were all the rage back in the ’90s, but once again Capstone tweaked things a little bit here. Each level contains various computer terminals. Many are false alarms. When you activate one, you’ll either earn access to blue security doors, red ones or get the dreaded false alarm “INTRUDER ALERT!!” These intruder alerts will alert nearby aliens of your location. This was just another cool feature of Corridor 7 that I feel has always flew under the radar. Yes, it’s a blatant Wolfenstein 3D clone in many ways but it wasn’t a completely heartless effort.

teleportTeleporters are found in the 10 final alien levels in the CD-ROM version only. As you would expect, they take you from one teleporter to another. I like the flashing stars. Always thought that added a nice classy little touch to it.

hlthchamBecause this game takes place in the far flung future of 2012, experimental reviving chambers for non-mortal wounds are available for usage. A Health Chamber can restore up to 100% of your health depending on the energy level remaining in the chamber before use. When I was a kid I always loved how the voice over would go “HEALTH CHAMBER ACTIVATED!” as you spin 180 degrees. There was something very cool about that.

isphereThis almighty blue ball grants you temporary invulnerability. But keep in mind — whenever you see one of these bad boys — it usually signals that you’re about to encounter a rather aggressive skirmish with one of the tougher aliens, if not a pack of them. But even worse than that, the screen goes into a mad flicker that just might send you into an epileptic seizure.

MY EYES...
MY EYES! Flicker game is strong. WAY too strong…

CORRIDOR 7 MEMORIES

My body was ready
XOXO? No hugs and kisses here

There weren’t many games I was more excited to play than the CD-ROM version of Corridor 7. I played the one level preview to death in early 1994. My dad bought me the full game later that summer. Right away I noticed some of the walls had windows and see through fences. There’s an inexplicable charm to it. Gave the game sort of this quirky look and feel.

Aliens > Demons?
Aliens > demons for me at least

Although I absolutely ate up Doom, I’ve always preferred aliens over demons. Doom is undoubtedly the superior game (it’s not even close), but I actually like the enemy roster of Corridor 7 more. I love the idea of clearing corridors and hallways of alien scum. It truly felt like you were tasked with wiping out the entire alien race.

My favorite alien: the Ttocs!
My favorite alien: the Ttocs!

There are a lot of cool looking designs in this game, but my favorite was by far the Ttocs. I love their combination of red and purple. And they look like alien trolls on steroids. I loved them so much as a kid that I even came up with an acronym for them: The Terminators Of Corridor Seven. TTOCS. The funny things we did as kids, eh?

Love how their bones flash when you shoot them
Love how their bones flash when you shoot them
Also love how they melt into a pile of goo as they die
Also love how they melt into a pile of goo as they die
You're next, big guy
You’re next, big guy
Best death pose ever
Best death pose ever
The Mechanical Warrior was quite intimidating!
The Mechanical Warrior was quite intimidating!

Indeed he was. You can hear his thunderous footsteps in the distance, which was incredibly ingenious. The first time I heard it I was like “Oh hell no!” Whatever lurked behind that corner was massive and deadly…

Is that a Ttocs hiding inside?
Is that a Ttocs hiding inside?

Interestingly enough, when the Mechanical Warrior dies, you can see what appears to be a variant of the Ttocs inside. As a kid I theorized that the Ttocs battled for supremacy amongst themselves. The ones who won out got to don the scorpion-like suit. The bliss of being a kid, eh?

Speaking of death animations, this is sick
Speaking of death animations, this is sick

Corridor 7 had some sick alien sound effects and death animations. It made killing the aliens a blast, pardon the pun. The game is rather underrated particularly in those areas.

The Tymok is Barney the Dinosaur on steroids
The Tymok is Barney the Dinosaur on steroids

Speaking of favorite enemy designs, the Tymok ranks up there for me. He’s basically Barney on steroids. And unlike the Mechanical Warrior, Tymoks are very strong and worthy of their boss status. I would love to see a Tymok vs. a Baron of Hell battle. Quite frankly, I’d put my money on the Tymok…

It was such a colorful shooter
Colors up the wazoo!

Corridor 7 had a unique color scheme. Sure it has its share of decaying walls, but things like the snazzy blue “energy walls” which animate really caught my eye as a kid. It has a unique colorful look that really appealed to me when I was a kid.

Welcome to Hell
Well that escalated fast

Level 20 sees a major switch. The levels shift over into “alien levels.” This is where the aliens have completely modified their environment to suit their personal needs. I was so creeped out the first time I saw those human bodies hanging upside down. God knows what was have done to them…

Even the doors get a hell-ish makeover
Even the doors get a hellish makeover

I love how the doors in the alien levels were altered as well. The door designs added to the creepy atmosphere and it was cool how the doors opened as though you were entering a living breathing organism.

Level 20 sees the beginning of the alien takeover
As a kid I called this guy the Space Invader alien

Watch out for the Eniram enemies. They’re invisible, only appearing when they fire at you or when you enable your infrared visor. If you’re out of visor batteries, you’re pretty much screwed unless you have the full proximity map.

Nothing like seeing a health chamber in the nick of time
Health chambers restore you to full health. Brilliant!

You’ll need them, trust me.

Shit, I'm outta here
Shit, I’m outta here

LES BIRD INTERVIEW

The programmer of Corridor 7, Les Bird, was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. This Q&A was conducted on March 23, 2017 — just in time for the 23th anniversary of Corridor 7.

Steve: Thank you for your time, Les. First off, were you a gamer growing up? If so, what were some of your favorite video games or gaming memories?

Les: I’ve been a gamer since I was a kid. I spent most of my time in the arcades playing games like Asteroids, Robotron, Gravitar, Defender, Major Havoc, Pac-Man and more. I was so fascinated by these games that I wanted to make my own so I taught myself how to code. It was always my dream to make games for a living and somehow I got lucky.

Major Havoc 1983)
Major Havoc (1983)

Steve: How did you get into the gaming industry?

Les: I was fortunate enough to get a job in the early ’90s working for Capstone in Miami. Before that I was working for Galacticomm in Fort Lauderdale helping them enhance their MajorBBS multiuser software. On the side I wrote a couple EGA vector graphic games for them called Flash Tanks and Flash Spacewar. It was just by chance that I saw an opportunity with Capstone and I took it. That was my first job in the game industry and I’ve been doing it ever since.

Les Birds gaming roots began here
Les Bird’s gaming roots began here

Steve: What inspired you to create Corridor 7?

Les: The inspiration came from playing Wolfenstein 3D. Capstone licensed the Wolfenstein tech from id Software and we needed a cool game to make with the tech. After several brainstorming sessions we came up with the story for Corridor 7. Oddly it was very similar to the story of Doom and later on Half-Life. It seemed all the sci-fi games back then followed a similar story line; a portal opens up and bad guys invade. I actually thought Half-Life was Corridor 7 made with better tech.

Half-Life 1998)
Half-Life (1998)

Steve: Talk a bit about acquiring the Wolfenstein engine license from id Software. How much did it cost? And looking back, I suppose id Software was more than happy to lend you the Wolfenstein engine because they were secretly working on Doom which utilized an improved engine.

Les: I wasn’t part of the engine acquisition but I believe id contacted us. As you said they were developing the Doom engine and the Wolfenstein 3D tech was outdated to them so why not license it out? I think, but not sure, the cost was $50,000 per title. Again I’m not totally sure of the details regarding this.

id Software raked in 50,000. Not bad...
This “stamp of approval” sold me as a kid!

Steve: What were your thoughts when you first played Wolfenstein 3D?

Les: I played Wolfenstein 3D when I was still working at Galacticomm. At the time I was not much of a PC gamer (I had an Amiga) but that game blew my mind. That was the moment I started to commit to the PC as a gaming platform. I remember trying to write my own 3D engine like Wolfenstein 3D. The thing that got me with Wolfenstein was how smooth it ran on a PC. It was one of the first games that could do 3D (or 2.5D I guess they called it) in real time at a smooth frame rate. I remember loading the game up and just turning in a circle and just in awe at how fast it could render the scene. Back then there was nothing like that which is why it was so revolutionary. The other thing that impressed me was how incredibly real the sound was if you had a Sound Blaster audio card. You can imagine how excited I was when we were able to license the Wolfenstein tech to make Corridor 7.

There was no other game like it in 1992
This blew away everyone back in 1992

Steve: How long was Corridor 7 in development for? Do you know how many copies were sold?

Les: Corridor 7 was in development for about 9 months and then another 3 (I think) for the CD-ROM version. I spent the early part exploring some engine mods that could differentiate Corridor 7 from the other games. A few things I wanted to do to make Corridor 7 unique were:

(1) Have transparent walls and windows. We also wanted the levels to be alive so we added color cycling to the engine so the electronic equipment can have blinking and moving lights.

NewCorr7i

(2) All pickups were in the walls (health packs and ammo) instead of scattered about the floor

ExCorr10

(3) Health chambers to restore the player to full health

ExCorr23

(4) Add diminished lighting when you looked down long hallways

NewCorr7l

And then there was the visor. That was an idea I had that just came out of the blue. I thought it would be cool, since you play the role of a military soldier, to be able to turn on night vision and see down dark hallways.

ExCorr1

We also added the infrared mode to the visor and then created a creature and traps specifically for the new mode.

Watch out for deadly traps
Deadly traps can only be seen with the infrared visor

I do not know the exact number of copies sold and if I tried to guess I think I’d be way off. It was included in one of the popular 5ft 10 pack CD bundles and then GameTek also took on publishing the game later on in its life.

Steve: Doom was released December 1993. How far along was Corridor 7 at that developmental point, and how big a factor do you think the new and improved Doom engine hampered the potential success of Corridor 7, which came out March 1994?

Les: Doom blew me away. It definitely hampered sales for our game. All of the game reviews for Corridor 7 were compared to Doom, which wasn’t exactly fair, but Doom was the best game out at the time and set the new standard. One of the multiplayer levels in Corridor 7 was modeled after the first Doom level. Corridor 7 was pretty far along in development when Doom came out. It was too late to turn back and change things so we just had to push forward with what we had. We also added the Alien Disintegrator to the CD version of Corridor 7 which was inspired by Doom’s BFG.

Obligatory Doom shot #1 even if its Doom II
Obligatory Doom shot #1 (even if it’s Doom II)

Steve: What were your thoughts when you first played Doom?

Les: Doom blew my mind when I played it. I could not believe games like that were possible on the PC with EGA/VGA graphics. Doom and later on Quake set the standard for FPS games.

Obligatory Doom shot #2 even if its Doom II again
Obligatory Doom shot #2 (even if it’s Doom II again)

Steve: In the first level of Corridor 7 you see the names of the people who worked on the game. Whose idea was that? I always found it to be endearingly quirky.

Les: That was actually my idea. I even made the sprites for each team member. I stuck them in the back corridor as sort of an Easter egg. There wasn’t much of a problem with management about it. I just thought it’d be cool to show the names of the key members inside the game instead of on a credits screen that may or may not be seen.

No relation to Larry
No relation to Larry

Steve: Speaking of names, some of the enemy names were based upon real names spelled backwards. You had Katie-Eitak, Scott-Ttocs, Carlos-Solrac, James-Semaj and hell, even Marine-Eniram. Who came up with this idea? I always thought it was pretty clever. Reminded me of Dracula-Alucard.

Les: We were trying to come up with names for the aliens but none of them made sense. Someone on the team suggested we just use our names spelled backwards and it stuck. I don’t remember whose idea it was (it wasn’t mine) but we all started calling each other by our alien names. Trying to come up with unique names for aliens is a pretty difficult task.

Steve: The enemies were very underrated I felt. Especially the Bandor, which often disguised itself as everyday furniture. Talk about the designs and where some of your inspirations came from. Was there a particular enemy you’re most fond of? I personally love the Ttocs the most.

Ttocs: The Terminators of Corridor 7
TTOCS: The Terminators Of Corridor Seven

Les: The Bandor was an idea I came up with. I remember playing one of the early levels and there was all this office furniture, file cabinets and chairs, just randomly placed in some of the rooms. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if aliens could disguise themselves as office furniture and when you entered the room you’d think “nothing here” and then all of a sudden aliens would appear and start shooting you. The team liked the idea and so we made it happen. For a personal favorite, I really liked Solrac. Creepy and spooky with tentacle arms. Ttocs is Scott spelled backwards. Scott was our lead artist who came up with most of the creature designs and did all the pixel art for them.

Bandors are shifty shapeshifting bastards
Bandors are shifty shapeshifting bastards

Steve: The aliens had unique sounding screams. I particularly remember the Rodex’s pig-like squeal. How were the alien sound effects made?

Les: All of our sounds were created by our sound engineer. He was actually pretty good at coming up with unique sounds. He also did the jump scare sound for the boss vision (messiah) that you get randomly when playing the game. We basically explained what we were doing and then a day later he’d come back with some awesome sound effects. I don’t remember his technique for creating the alien sounds but I agree, they were all unique and turned out pretty well.

The Rodex had a classic pig-like squeal
The Rodex squeals like a pig upon sight

Steve: The CD-ROM version had extra goodies (i.e. 10 more levels, new enemies, new weapons, etc.) Talk about working on that.

Les: We had to make some new art for the CD-ROM version for the pulsating alien wall textures. We also had to think up some new weapons to add. Reluctantly I gave in to allowing ammo and health to be scattered on the floor. We couldn’t think of a good logical solution since the military wall textures were now alien wall textures so we couldn’t have ammo and health packs integrated into the walls.

The "alien" levels no longer had ammo in the walls
The alien levels no longer had ammo in the walls

We also added network and modem multiplayer support. I had to learn a lot about IPX networking as it was an area I had not explored before. We also added the movie sequences to the CD-ROM version. We were already at practically max memory limits (640K) so I had to learn how to use EMS/XMS memory to cache the video frames from the movies. I also remember us having a really difficult time mastering the final CD-ROM. Something about the mastering software not working properly because we needed a PC that was fast enough to stream from the hard drive to the CD-ROM burner. Back then this was all new stuff so there was a lot to learn. We went through 10 or so blank CDs before finally making a gold master that worked.

2012? That's so five years ago
2012? That’s so five years ago

Steve: How was Corridor 7 perceived when it came out in 1994? Were you pleased with the end results yourself? What would you have done differently, looking back?

Les: I was actually very happy with the game. I had a ton of freedom to put whatever I wanted to put into the game. These days things are way different. Programmers write code and designers design the games but back then it was mostly just making things up as you went. The invisible Eniram for example was just a spur of the moment thing when we came up with the infrared visor feature and we were trying to think of what else you could use the infrared mode for.

This creature can only be spotted by the infrared visor
This creature can only be spotted by the infrared visor

The proximity mines, again, just came up as we were in the middle of the project. They started out when I was trying to figure out a way you could mark where you were as you explored a level. I made these little flags that you could drop by pressing a key and then you’d know you’ve been to that area before. I showed the team but no one really liked it. I was about to remove the feature but one of my artists came up with the idea of turning the flags into mines. That was an AHA moment. He made the art for the pickup crate and the mines and I made them explode when something approached them.

Lure enemies into mines for major damage
Lure enemies into mines for major damage

hlthchamLooking back I think one thing I would’ve changed was to have more health chambers. I’m not sure what happened there but somewhere along the way it seems like we forgot we had them when we were building out the levels. We split up all the levels between several people and maybe some of them didn’t know how to add the health chambers, not sure.

I've always been a big fan of the snazzy blue there
Like finding a spring of water in the middle of a desert!

Steve: I have to ask about the random Solrac “coming at you out of nowhere” moments — where did that come from? It creeped me out so much as a kid! It was awesome :)

So freaky! Still gets me every single damn time
So freaky! It got me every single damn time…

Les: Oh man, the “messiah” as he was known internally. So this is an interesting story. It started out when one of our programmers said that we should add a random encounter with Elvis as you play through the game. He even created programmer art of an Elvis head that we put in the game. Later on we thought, maybe it should be a religious experience so we made art of Jesus with a crown of thorns and our audio guy made the jump audio for it. Our producer took the game home and played it that night and came in the next morning and called us all into her office. We got a major chewing out about it. She said “Les, tell me I didn’t see Jesus when I was playing the game last night.” We all kind of laughed but she didn’t think it was very funny (and in reality it wasn’t very funny). She immediately ordered it out of the game. We all thought it worked really well as a jump scare so we convinced her to let us keep it if we changed the art to the final boss character. She agreed and that’s how it came to be. I have to say that even when I play the game today I jump every time it appears. I’ve spent so many rounds of ammo shooting into thin air because of it.

Suck it, Solrac!
Suck it, Solrac!

Steve: Talk a little about the Corridor 8 project and how it wasn’t meant to be. Might we see Corridor 7 remade or revitalized in some way one day? Or has that ship sailed for good?

Les: Capstone was struggling to stay alive. At the time they were trying to take the company public and they put every penny they had into making this happen. They needed a game that would save them so we came up with a sequel to Corridor 7. I personally wanted to call it Corridor 7: Alien Invasion II, because Corridor 7 was already a known brand but the designer rejected that idea and wanted to call it Corridor 8. We were using the Build engine, same tech that we made Witchaven, Witchaven II and TekWar with and the same tech that was used to make the original Duke Nukem 3D game.

Duke Nukem 3D 1996
Duke Nukem 3D (1996)

vortexWe were in the very early prototyping stage when Capstone could no longer fund it. We were experimenting with vehicles, alien AI and weapons at the time and had some designs for some of the levels. The team was only 3 people at the time, just me and 2 artists. As for a Corridor 7 remake, I’ve been tossing around this idea for quite some time. I’ve explored some ideas for remaking it but it’s difficult to find the time to do that now. At one point I had it running on an iPad using DosBox for iPad, I think I posted a video on my YouTube channel of this. I’d definitely be interested in revisiting this some day when I have the time.

Steve: Let’s briefly switch gears to another game of yours: Operation Body Count. Talk about your specific role on Operation Body Count, the inspiration for this game, development time, and your general thoughts.

Les: Operation Body Count was our second Wolfenstein 3D engine game. My role on this game was very minimal except to support it because it used the same engine with the same mods as Corridor 7. When production started on this game I was finishing up the CD-ROM version of Corridor 7. I recall being part of the initial design team and we were all trying to think up a name for the game. I don’t remember who came up with the name but everyone agreed that it was the most fitting. I had mixed feelings towards the game. Development time was around 6 to 9 months I believe.

It has some neat ideas but yeah...
So many cool concepts… what a shame

Steve: I had the one level preview for OBC and absolutely loved it. Spraying bullet holes into the walls, shattering glass, bodies twitching for a second after dying, bazookas blowing up toilets, setting enemies on fire which can kill others… I thought it had the potential to be great. But then I bought the full game. I was turned off at how the first 10 or so levels took place in the sewer. Was it just to increase the length of the game? The one level preview was loads of fun. The actual full game, sorry to say, not so much.

Les: I totally agree with you. I think the first 10 sewer levels were put in to increase the length of the game. I always hated games that had sewers where you had to shoot rats and critters. Never could understand the logic behind that and never understood how that made any game more fun. The one level preview showed off all the best parts.

Shame this game didn't live up to its potential
Such a waste of potential…

Steve: Thanks again for your time, Les. And thank you for making Corridor 7. It was one of my childhood favorites. Any projects or anything you’d like to plug? Or any closing remarks?

Les: I actually still think Corridor 7 is one of my best works. I think back about how much fun it was to make and how much freedom I had to just put whatever I thought would be cool into the game. I also really liked how we would all just randomly come up with ideas and then just make it happen. The eye probe for example was an alien that one of our artists made one day and he showed it to me and I said “Man that is awesome! Let’s put it in.”

[EYE SEE WAT YOU DID DERE... -Ed.]
[EYE SEE WAT YOU DID DERE… -Ed.]
It was just a bunch of us making a game that we wanted to play and Capstone paying us to do so. Fun times and nothing like how games are made today, except maybe by some of the awesome indie studios. Thank you Steve for reaching out. I love talking about Corridor 7.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

If only this came out in mid 1993
If only this came out in early 1993…

Corridor 7 has a lot of good things going for it. Some killer alien designs, lots of color, military and alien guns with differentiated ammo for both types, some sweet death animations and sound effects, health chambers, land mines, enough varied guns to keep one pleased and so forth. There’s also a visor system where you can switch to night or infrared. The night vision however is fairly useless as it’s not really implemented much. The infrared will help you spot a certain enemy that is invisible and you can figure out which computer panels contain the security code. However, its March 1994 release really hurt its chances of leaving a truly favorable impression. Doom was already out three months by then and Corridor 7 felt a bit outdated upon its release. It’s a shame, because had Capstone put out this game a year earlier, March 1993, there’s no telling what its legacy today might have been. It’s a perfectly playable and solid Wolfenstein 3D clone set in an alien world. If that appeals to you, you’ll probably enjoy Corridor 7. Just watch out for that creepy Solrac jump scare!

Well hello!
Well hello!

Sure it’s got its flaws. But Corridor 7 will always have a soft spot in my gaming heart. It’s a relic from the good old days of PC gaming. A time in which Wolfenstein and Doom clones were churned out seemingly every other month. There were a lot of bad ones, but there were enough decent ones to sink your teeth into. I’d say Corridor 7 falls into the latter more than it does the former. Although the game is dated, it’s a childhood favorite and a reminder of a simpler time in my life. Playing first person shooters late on Friday nights after a long school week, trying to save the world from Nazis, demons and aliens. It was a good time to be a gamer, and an even better time to be a kid.

And good-bye!
Sayonara!

Nice review of Capstone’s shooters!

SPECIAL THANKS:

Les Bird, programmer of Corridor 7

This old Corridor 7 fanpage for the GIFs

Rampage (NES)

"GREAT SCOTTS! MY WIFE!" "YOUR WIFE?!?! THAT'S MY GIRLFRIEND!" "WHAT!? THAT'S MY LESBIAN LOVER YOU FOOLS!"
“GREAT SCOTT — MY WIFE!”
“YOUR WIFE?!?! THAT’S MY GIRLFRIEND!”
“WHAT!? THAT’S MY LESBIAN LOVER YOU FOOLS!”

Ah, Rampage. Hard to believe the 1986 arcade game turned 30 last year. Next year will mark 30 years for the 8-bit NES port. Who didn’t play this game back in the day? I remember seeing the lovely cover at my local mom ‘n pop rental shop EVERGREEN VIDEO and absolutely going nuts. I loved monsters and the cover promised monster mayhem and destruction. My old man handed a Washington over to Tom, Evergreen Video’s owner, as my dad did every Saturday afternoon when my brother and I would go to rent the latest NES title. Remember when games were that cheap to rent? Hell, remember when renting games was a thing?! But I digress. That whole car ride home, all five minutes of it, was the longest five minutes of my life. I couldn’t wait to play Rampage. We rushed to our game room, popped it in and the rest is history. The fact that I remember it fondly to this day nearly 30 years later says it all.

KING KONG VS. GODZILLA

MORE AMAZING THAN YOUR EYES CAN BELIEVE!
More amazing than your eyes can believe!

Man, I remember gawking at this VHS cover at Toys R Us in the late ’80s. Toys R Us used to have a super small VHS section that contained Disney movies and the odd Godzilla film. Long before Capcom made crossovers popular in the late ’90s, there was 1962’s KING KONG vs. GODZILLA! I had no clue such a film existed so I nearly crapped my pants when I first saw the box sitting pretty on the shelf. Suddenly I no longer cared about buying that latest ThunderCats toy or the newest Nintendo game. Rather, all I wanted was to walk away with just a movie… from Toys R Us! We’re talkin’ TOYS R US here! You know it had to take a pretty damn special movie to possess any kid to want to do that. King Kong vs. Godzilla was that special. My parents bought it on sight and I remember being a bit disappointed when I finally saw the movie. Still, I liked it enough and had no regrets of not buying Leonardo: Scuba Diving Edition!

Can't wait for their rematch in 2020!
Can’t wait for their rematch in 2020!

Speaking of King Kong, I just watched Kong: Skull Island the other night. It was pretty good, and I am excited for this new “MonsterVerse” that Legendary has created. Crossover franchises are all the rage now, and I can’t wait for King Kong vs. Godzilla to hit theatres on May 29, 2020. That’s sure to be epic.

One of the best shots in any monster film ever!
One of the best shots in any monster film ever
My body is ready. TAKE MY MONEY
My body is ready. TAKE MY MONEY

After discovering the internet in the late ’90s, I purchased a subtitled version of King Kong vs. Godzilla. I enjoyed it a lot more than the English dub. So, how does this all relate to Rampage? Well of course…

I hope you weren't too fond of the wolf guy!
I hope you weren’t too fond of the wolf guy…

RampageNES2

I'll say!
I’ll say!

Yeeeeee-ahhh
A used… pink bathrobe
A rare… mint snowglobe
A Smurf… TV tray
I bought on eBay!

My house… is filled with this crap
Shows up in BUBBLE WRAP
Most every day
What I bought on eBay!

Tell me why I need another pet rock
Tell me why I got that ALF alarm clock
Tell me why I bid on Shatner’s old toupee
They had it on eBay!

I’ll buy… your knick-knack
Just check… my feedback
“A++!”  they all say
They love me on eBay!

Gonna buy a slightly damaged golf bag
Gonna buy some Beanie Babies, new with tag
From some guy I’ve never met in NOOOORWAAAY
Found him on eBay!

I am the type who is liable to snipe you
With two seconds left to go, whoaaaa
Got Paypal or Visa, whatever’ll please ya
As long as I’ve got… THE DOOOUGH!

I’ll buy… your tchotchkes
Sell me… your watch, please
I’ll buy… I’ll buy, I’ll buy, I’ll buy…
I’M HIGHEST BIDDER!!

JUNK KEEPS ARRIVING IN THE MAIL
FROM THAT WORLDWIDE GARAGE SALE (Dukes Of Hazard ashtray)
Hey! A Dukes Of Hazard ashtray
OHHHH YEAH… I bought it on eBay!

Wanna buy a Pac-Man Fever lunchbox
Wanna buy a case of vintage tube socks
Wanna buy a Kleenex used by Dr. Dre, used by Dr. Dre!
Found it on eBay!

Wanna buy that Farrah Fawcet poster
Pez dispensers and a toaster
DON’T KNOW WHY… the kind of stuff you’d throw away
I’ll buy on eBay!

What I bought on eBay-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y!

Stop staring at me and do it you goof!
Stop staring at me and do it you goof!

RampageNES4

[That's not kinky at all... -Ed.]
[That’s not kinky at all… -Ed.]
RampageNES6

Jump safely off, or fall down and lose health
Jump safely off, or fall down and lose health
Hey, I did originally write this review in 2008...
Hey, I did originally write this review in 2008…
Better enjoy it -- there's not a whole lot...
Better enjoy it — there’s not a whole lot…

RampageNES10

[No wonder he moved, and it ain't coz of the hairy ape -Ed.]
[No wonder he moved, and it ain’t coz of the ape -Ed.]
RampageNES12

See that little guy?
See that guy?
YUMMY!
YUMMY!
[I knew there was something funny about the ape -Ed.]
[I knew there was something funny about the ape -Ed.]
I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. CAN YOU?!?!
I CAN HARDLY CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. CAN YOU?
I mean, look how beautiful Vegas is! So let's check it out
I mean, look how beautiful Vegas is! So let’s see…
Bloody hell, man. That's it?!
Bloody hell, man. That’s it?!
Love that sign. Brings some much needed variety
Love that sign. Brings some much needed variety

Indeed. The best part of the game is scaling a building that allows you to clobber that one, the one behind it and the one next to it as well. That, along with playing with your brother or friend, was as good as it got in Rampage.

Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
Hmmm, where have I seen this before?
Ah yes of course... THE KING OF MONSTERS!
Ah yes of course… THE KING OF MONSTERS!
[Damn you Bowe, I had money on you that night -Ed.]
[Damn you Bowe, I had money on you that night -Ed.]
Fan Man dropping by...
Fan Man dropping by…

November 6, 1993 marks one of the strangest incidents ever witnessed in sports history. It was a rematch between Riddick Bowe and Evander Holyfield. During round seven, a fan parachuted down just missing the ring. The bizarre incident caused a 21 minute delay.

Holyfield eventually won the bout after the fight went 12 rounds. He regained his World Heavyweight title. It was the only loss Riddick Bowe would ever suffer in his boxing career.

RampageNES19

RampageNES18

RampageConquerRampageConquer1

 

 

 

 

 

Every five or so stages, you conquer another region. No password or save system made beating this game a daunting and tedious chore.

RAMPAGE THROUGH THE YEARS

The boys are back in town ♫ ♫ ♫
The boys are back in town  ♫ ♫ ♫

I was a bit saddened when we never got a Super Rampage on the SNES. I thought that spelled the end but Rampage saw a revival during the 32-bit generation in the form of Rampage World Tour. I bought a copy back in 2003 and it’s OK for what it is, but I was disappointed there wasn’t a three player mode. There was no excuse for that especially since the Saturn could more than handle it. Therefore the port always came off as incredibly lazy to me.

The last Rampage game to date
The last Rampage game to date

Rampage: Total Destruction came out on the Wii in 2006. Who knows if Rampage will ever be resurrected again (in video game form).

Well, speaking about a resurrection...
Well, speaking about a resurrection…

Coming to theatres in April 2018 — Rampage starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The Rock is no stranger to video game movie adaptations. This will be his second video game film, with his first being 2005’s Doom. That was not a good movie. Hopefully Rampage turns out OK, and I think it will. We’ll find out in about a year!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

RampageNES20

Even nearly 30 years ago, I knew Rampage wasn’t a great game or anything. It’s best played with a like minded bud for no more than 15 minutes. Is there a more mindless one trick pony game than Rampage? It is what it is. It can be fun to pop in for a few minutes once in a blue moon but it’s not something you’ll want to play often. I’ll always remember Rampage for its cool box art and allowing kids to live out our fantasy of being a towering monster crushing buildings left and right — even if it fell way short of what we imagined. I guess there’s only so much you can do with this sort of format. Rampage is one of those games that gives you the nostalgic feels but the memories far surpass the actual experience, if that makes sense. It’s certainly a memorable relic from the good old NES days of late ’80s yore.

The arcade marquee is forever burned in my mind
The arcade marquee is forever burned in my mind

Mega Man 2 (NES)

One of the true cornerstones of the NES library

For anyone who grew up on gaming in the late 1980s and had an 8-bit Nintendo, we all have certain games that we connected with. For many of us, one such game was Mega Man 2. Released in June 1989, Mega Man 2 rocked my world. It truly captivated my imagination. The ability to pick your stage, take enemies’ weapons and the fact that you’re a freaking robot made this game an absolute slam dunk. There’s not much left to say in 2016 that hasn’t already been said thousands of times before, but I still wanted to talk about this game for a bit. It’s an incredibly nostalgic piece of gaming history for me. Remember that intro? It set the mood perfectly and haunts me to this day.

megaman2-2

megaman2-3

megaman2-4

megaman2-5

megaman2-6

Ah, childhood memories
Ah, childhood memories
That music, everything. It worked
That music, everything. It worked
The classic select screen
The classic select screen

I remember the first time I saw this, my eyes popped. I never really played the original Mega Man, so this stage select business was brand new to me. Back then all the games I had played were done in a linear fashion. The game had a set order of levels and you had no choice but to follow that order. Not so here. Capcom gave us the freedom to pick and choose. Of course, as we would come to find out, there was a method to their madness. The bosses all had a special weakness that required another boss weapon. So there was a hidden order if you will, but it’s always nice to be given a choice.

The first boss I ever chose
The first boss I ever chose

I selected Wood Man first because I liked his burly look. That plus I figured it would take place in a forest type level. I’ve always had a thing for forests in video games, even way back in 1989.

megaman2-27megaman2-28

 

 

 

 

 

Who could ever forget the sleeping bats? As soon as you get near them they spring to life. The purple hare was always a favorite enemy of mine. It wasn’t big or tough enough to be considered a mini boss, but it was strong enough to sustain a few bullets. I love enemies that are a notch above cannon fodder. Of course, the big bad wolf/dog creature and his flaming breath is an image that has been burned into our memory banks, pardon the pun. Classic stuff.

megaman2-29megaman2-30

 

 

 

 

 

Watch out for the bird which if not killed early on drops an egg that could be bad news for ya. Love the random sprinting chickens.

megaman2-31megaman2-32

 

 

 

 

 

After defeating Wood Man, you take his weapon Leaf Shield. Discovering the proper order of a Mega Man game is all part of the charm and fun.

Ah, Flash Man. Another classic boss
Ah, Flash Man. Another classic

megaman2-12megaman2-14

 

 

 

 

 

It’s your classic typical icy level where the surface is slippery. Ah, these images bring back such fond memories of a simpler time. I *hated* that robot rider with a burning passion. He always seemed to zap my health without fail each and every damn time.

megaman2-15megaman2-16

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things about fighting Flash Man is that his battle zone isn’t a straight flat surface. I like all the different tiers there. It just makes the fight that much more interesting.

The music here was unrivaled
The music here was unrivaled

megaman2-21megaman2-23

 

 

 

 

 

This was one of my lesser favorite levels but it still has its moments. The giant spiked crane reminded me of Contra and the conveyor belt added a decent gimmick to this stage.

megaman2-24megaman2-25

 

 

 

 

 

Those Metal Blades are deadly, slicing and dicing anything caught in its path. They become yours after you send Metal Man back to the scrap heap.

The stars are a nice touch
The stars are a nice touch

megaman2-34megaman2-35

 

 

 

 

 

Like your typical forest and icy levels, you have your obligatory sky or air level. I’ve never been a big fan of these stages. Not crazy about instant game overs!

megaman2-36megaman2-37

 

 

 

 

 

Those squiggly worms were a good place to “farm” for goodies. That big guy there tries to suck you in [Sounds like your standard Saturday night *rimshot* -Ed.]

megaman2-38megaman2-39

 

 

 

 

 

One of the joys of playing a Mega Man title is figuring out which boss weapon works best on another boss. It’s a game of trial and error. Keep in mind too that back in 1989 there was no internet. There was no GameFAQs. And there was no YouTube. You couldn’t just find out the solution in mere seconds. Back then it was a real battle of wills. You traded secrets with your buddies on the playground. It was just a sign of the times. Signs from a bygone era.

megaman2-41

megaman2-42megaman2-43

 

 

 

 

 

When I was a kid I struggled with this stage. Hey, I was 6, OK? I always seemed to get hit by those damn floating Tellies. Especially right at the top just when I’m about to leave that bloody screen forever. Later you come to this makeshift ride with more annoying Tellies.

megaman2-45megaman2-46

 

 

 

 

 

I remember watching my brother and his friends getting this far. I never could back in 1989. It’s funny how certain levels haunted us as kids, but we can now dominate as adults. The same applies for vice versa.

megaman2-47megaman2-48

 

 

 

 

 

I watched in sheer awe as my brother and his friends made short work of Crash Man. I remember thinking to myself that they just accomplished the impossible. Ah, the innocent of youth.

megaman2-49

megaman2-50megaman2-52

 

 

 

 

 

I *hated* those laser beams. I never could get past them back in the day. I liked how the screen was dark except for when that enemy chucked his flaming ball.

megaman2-53megaman2-54

 

 

 

 

 

Alright, another boss fight where the surface isn’t flat! [Wish I could say that about my wife… *rimshot* c’mon now what the hell -Ed.]

megaman2-55

megaman2-58megaman2-60

 

 

 

 

 

Ah, the mandatory water stage. I think pretty much everyone has the image of that giant robotic fish firmly implanted in their brains. One of my favorite things about any Mega Man game is reaching the boss zone. I loved the giant Dr. W sign and the “health bar door.” Come on, just look at it. It looks like your health bar!

megaman2-61megaman2-62

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t jump too high! It made this fight a little more challenging than normal.

megaman2-63

megaman2-64megaman2-66

 

 

 

 

 

Those bloody Tellies are back to haunt me. And there’s your token disappearing block jumping section. Over a death pit, of course. Of course.

megaman2-68megaman2-69

 

 

 

 

 

Heat Man’s weakness, surprise surprise, is Bubble Man’s Bubble Lead. Even I was able to figure that out as a kid. Thanks Battle Beast. Water always beats fire!

mmx25

megaman2-73megaman2-74

 

 

 

 

 

After defeating all eight robot masters, it’s time to head to Dr. Wily’s evil fortress. This reveals a series of more levels to further extend the game.

megaman2-79megaman2-89

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the more iconic bosses in Mega Man history right here. They blew my mind back in the day, particularly the King Kong wannabe. He took up like half the damn screen!

megaman2-96megaman2-97

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the final fight! Against Dr. Wily! *laughs* Right, because Capcom and “final” go hand in hand, and I’m not talking about Final Fight, either.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Thanks for the memories, Capcom
Thanks for the memories, Capcom

There were a total of six Mega Man games on the NES. People often debate over the years which one is better: part 2 or 3. My answer remains the same throughout the years, Mega Man 2. Maybe it’s nostalgia talking, but Mega Man 2 just hits a sweet spot for me that very few NES games do. Even to this day, I find it to be highly playable — it’s held up well over the years. If it weren’t for Contra and Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, this would be my favorite Nintendo game. From the impressive visuals to the music to the whole novelty of it all, Mega Man 2 stands as one of the finest 8-bit video games ever created. Its lofty place in gaming history is firmly cemented.

I think back to the year 1989 and remember how excited my friends and I were playing Mega Man 2. Discovering each boss’ weakness, figuring out the best path to take and beating the boss with one pellet of health remaining… these were all part of the joy of playing any given Mega Man title. All those Saturday mornings spent in Ben’s garage that summer of 1989 provided a plethora of fond memories. It was the thrill of banding together as a group of friends and playing the game well into the afternoons. When we couldn’t just find out secrets and tips with one simple click. Those were some great times from a bygone era. Those memories stay with me to this day and I can’t help but reminisce about them whenever I think of the greatness that is Mega Man 2. Hats off to you, Capcom. This sequel truly made the Blue Bomber a force to be reckoned with.

OVERALL: 9.5

Super C (NES)

Contra is back, and boy is it tougher than ever
Contra is back, and boy is it tougher than ever

Last Saturday night I was inspired to fire up the old NES for the first time in ages. I still love the system to this day but in terms of actually playing it, it’s been a while. I don’t get to game as much as I’d like these days due to work getting busier and busier, but when I do game I tend to play my Super Nintendo. But last Saturday I had the strangest and strongest urge to revisit my old friend, and my old flame, the 8-bit Nintendo. The first game I played? Super C. Now back in the day I recall playing it briefly, but never thoroughly, and I was adamant on changing that. The game initially kicked my ass until I enabled a few Game Genie cheats to help see me through. Normally I try to beat a game fair and square but I had no guilt here. I just wanted to see all of the crazy levels. This was my journey through hell and back.

Note: Credit vgmuseum.com for these pictures.

Note 2: This past weekend I also published reviews for NES Contra and Contra III: The Alien Wars. Be sure to check them out, too.

Love the orange purple sky
Love the orange purple sky
You descend upon Hell on Earth
You descend upon Hell on Earth

superc-5

Super C came out April 1990, two full years before Contra III: The Alien Wars. I can kind of see where the influences for Contra III‘s first level emanates from. Some of these sights here look awfully familar. Hmmm….

I do miss the classic foot soldiers
I miss the classic foot soldiers
They finally shoot back for a change
They just had a little more style and pizzazz to them
It ain't Contra if it doesn't have a turret
The soldiers run pretty fast
More turrets to take out
More turrets to take out
Forge on ahead
Forge on ahead

The first stage is pretty solid. Sure that first boss isn’t anything mind-blowing or ultra memorable, but I love how after you destroy all the turrets a red beating orb appears in the middle for you to gun down. It sets the stage as a lot of the bosses have compartments or turrets to take out first.

Hey, a top down level!
Hey, a top down level!
Shades of Contra III
Shades of Contra III

Indeed, playing Super C is like peering into the future. Some of Contra III‘s levels and ideas seem to derive somewhat from Super C.

It's also a bit Heavy Barrel-esque
It’s also a bit Heavy Barrel-esque
More turrets
This game has turrets syndrome
A pretty fun romp all in all
A pretty fun romp all in all
A simple but effective boss
A simple but effective boss
Shades of Contra's jungle
Shades of Contra‘s jungle
In the jungle the lion sleeps... TO-NIGHT [... -Ed.]
I do prefer the original, but it’s nice to see the nod
It's too flat for my liking
It’s too flat for my liking

It is. The first game’s jungle had lots of different platforms to jump on or off of. This jungle version lacks that. It’s pretty much a straight flat shot through, and that takes away a lot of the fun and intrigue. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a fun level to work your way through, but it’s just not as fascinating as the original.

Mandatory water bit
Mandatory water bit
You can feel a mid boss coming
You can feel a mid boss coming
What did I tell ya?
What did I tell ya?
Bloody collapsing floors!
Bloody collapsing floors!
COMPARTMENTS R US!
COMPARTMENTS R US!
The bubbles are deadly
The bubbles are deadly
It gets rather hard here
It starts to get rather hard here
The 'Eagle Men' are back!
I’ve seen you before…
Going in deep now...
Well I’ll be damned
So many guns...
It’s hard to keep a weapon long

I keep dying and end back up with the weak pea shooter. Did I mention this game is double tough?

Interesting boss...
Decent boss but c’mon Konami

The plates come down one at a time and it’s pretty fun to navigate successfully, but I want some more monsters in my Contra bosses, damnit.

Going into the great wide unknown
Going into the wide unknown
Reminiscent of the Waterfall stage
Shades of the Waterfall stage

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I do prefer the Waterfall level in Contra over this one in Super C, but that has been a running theme, no?

Shit gets real here
Shit gets real here
Unbelievably tough
Unbelievably tough
It's not fair...
It’s not fair…
Bombs away!
Bombs away!
Oooh, creepy and ominous
Oooh, creepy and ominous
Alright, I'm digging this
Alright, I’m digging this
Points for something new
Points for something new
How do you not die here?
How do you not die here?
You can't hold me back, Trump!
You can’t hold me back, Trump!
You looking good, Donald
You looking good there, Donald
Now wait a second...
Now wait a second…
You've hit the motherload, Jimbo
You can see the influences Super C had on Contra III
This is not gonna be good...
This is not gonna be good…
This must be Hell all right
This must be Hell all right
Neat bit where you shoot down
Neat bit where you shoot down
It's those spider scorpions!
More ALIEN than ever before!
You remind me of an old pal
You remind me of an old friend
Who could forget the Demon that guarded the top of the Waterfalls?
Who could ever forget this massive monstrosity?
I must have lost 50 lives here
I must have lost 50 lives here
Finally a moment to breathe
Finally a moment to breathe
Rest time is over
Rest time is over
Awesome mini-boss. They don't make 'em like they used to!
Shame they didn’t bring back the demonic giraffe
Super C: Super Cheap?
Super C: Super Cheap?

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Now wait a second...
A worthy sequel albeit super hard

It was nice to finally go through this game last Saturday, even if I did have to enable a cheat code in order to do so. I managed to finish the game with precisely one life remaining. I doubt that I could ever legit beat this game, even if I were to devote 20 years to mastering this game. I love a good hard challenge but this game seems to cross the line and wander into super cheap territory. I do like it a lot, but I just wish it weren’t so damn difficult. It’s so hard that for me it takes away some of the fun if you’re playing this as is. I know there is a camp of Contra fans who prefer Super C to the original. But for me the original will never be touched, outside of Contra III: The Alien Wars that is. Still, Super C stands as a worthy sequel and it’s cool to see the influences it would come to have in Contra III.

Ranking the first three Contra games (Contra Force doesn’t bloody count).

1. Contra III: The Alien Wars
2. Contra
3. Super C

PS- Remember the creepy commercial? See below.

Contra (NES)

It's the game that got me into games -- for life
An essential video game of the ’80s, Contra stands the test of time

For many kids growing up in the mid-late 1980s it was all about Mario and his chums. I was a fan myself, but the one game that really cemented me as a video game fan for life was Konami’s Contra. The gun-slinging, alien-shooting atmosphere was off the charts, with incredible graphics, sound and gameplay. And unlike Mario, two could play at once. In short, it was a senses-shattering, adrenaline-filled action thriller. It was the kind of game you talked to your buds about on the playground at recess. The kind you never get tired of beating again and again, provided you had a friend firing alongside you every step of the way.

Tonight we take a trip down memory lane, recalling along the way the memorable nasties, the unforgettable little moments, and why this game has stood the test of time.

A FREAKY COINCIDENCE

This tribute piece was originally written almost 10 years ago now, back on February 9, 2008. As I was writing it, I decided to search when Contra was first released on the NES. I kid you not, the date was *drum roll please* February 9, 1988. So exactly 20 years later, to the very day, I was commemorating Contra. It’s one of those freaky coincidences that prove there are indeed greater and mysterious forces at work here.

I made this back on February 9, 2008
I made this back on February 9, 2008

And although RVGFanatic is mainly a platform where I share my passion for all things Super Nintendo, I’m happy to occasionally honor games that didn’t appear on the SNES at all. Contra is the first game of a brand new section on the site entitled “Random Retro.” And I can’t think of a finer first game than this.

THE INFAMOUS KONAMI CODE

Who could ever forget this?
Who could ever forget this?

Ah the classic Konami code which gave you 30 men. Ask any serious Nintendo fan about the code and they’ll recite it for ya on cue (select, start for 2 players).

THE JUNGLE

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The first stage is the very memorable jungle romp. Indeed, it was always amusing to us young kids how your guy was as big as the trees themselves!

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One of the great things you first notice are all the convenient angles you can fire at. It made you never look at games where the hero could only shoot across quite the same ever again, yeah?

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For some reason this silly mechanical bridge really captivated my imagination as a youth. My brother and I would often see who could cross it successfully, sort of a game-within-a-game type thing, yeah.

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Uh, yeah, I meant to fall off that collapsing bridge. Of course I did…

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Each time I saw him my mind would wander to such thoughts as “How did he luck out to get that hiding spot? It sure beats running in the wide open like some kamikaze soldier!” Ah, the thoughts we had as kids, eh?

Now THAT'S what I'm talking about
Now THAT’S what I’m talking about
I know I sure haven't
I know I sure haven’t

This first towering boss really set the tone for what the rest of the game would turn out to be. Contra simply tickles the imagination. It’s a world where massive monstrosities call home and where being a deft action megastar is the only ticket out alive.

This was an amazing sight back in 1988!
This was an amazing sight back in 1988!

At the end of the jungle lies this humongous base. I remember thinking what a huge boss it was at that time, and if I wasn’t sold yet, I was now. A sucker for any sort of elaborate Lego base or set, I was blown away by how cool this imposing structure appeared.

First order of business is to eliminate the entry soldier up top. Next, take out the two turrets, which spits out lovely red gumballs. Seriously, was I the only one who thought they looked like giant red gumballs?

Always love me a good spread
Always love me a good spread

Indeed. After clearing the two turrets, wipe the base plate out and proceed onto level two. What great horrors and thrills await you there?

BASE ONE

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This scene blew my mind back in 1988. It was like nothing I had ever seen before on the ole 8-bit NES. Like all of the game’s levels, to this day I can hum level two’s theme.

Simply riveting stuff back in '88
My imagination ran wild at the horrors laying ahead
Wow, this was mind blowing back in '88!
Wow, this was mind blowing back in ’88!

Boss number two is yet another awe-worthy gigantic structure. First you must blow away the pods. Once you do, look at the black screen for a good luck message… or at least yet another notable boss, anyhow.

Shades of Cobra from G.I. Joe!
Shades of Cobra from G.I. Joe!

Oh I know you can hear the music right about now, yes? Don’t deny it. You can even recall the sound that occurs every time you die, can’t you? Good stuff. Except that dying part, though.

We called this boss “Snakey” or “Snake Breath.” No explanation needed… just look at him! To this day I can see him zooming across his tiny black space back and forth, desperately spewing his venomous breath. This game was chalk full with memorable bosses. They stay with you even nearly 30 years later. Jeez!

WATERFALL

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Stage three… gotta make your way up to the top of this treacherous mountain. Keep your eyes peeled and your guns ready.

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The classic rocks-falling-down bit. Remember to keep pace with player 2
(if applicable). The bottom of the screen in 2-player mode acts as sort of an invisible pool of burning lava.

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Another cool part. Those two small fires move back and forth while turrets and soldiers from above try their damnedest to take you out.

Thankfully you’ve got that invulnerable icon there…

Capitalizing on the Running Man trend of the late '80s!
Capitalizing on the Running Man phenomenon!

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After a lengthy and arduous journey some 5,000 feet up this mountain top, you have to deal with the guardian from Hell…

MIND.OFFICIALLY.BLOWN
MAMA MIA!

YIKES! What a beast this guy is. Nobody could do bosses quite like Konami. That was their M.O., no? First you gotta take out his two limbs.

MIND.OFFICIALLY.BLOWN
MIND.OFFICIALLY.BLOWN

Then once that’s done, blow his gawd damn jaw off! You can actually position yourself where you’re able to hit him and he just misses you. An easy bloke, but a damn impressive and highly unforgettable one. He’s one of my favorite bosses of all time. I remember my reaction the first time my bro and I saw him: “WHOA!”

Beat him and proceed safely to level four. Wow, we’re not even halfway through and already this game is killing it! No wonder it’s one of the best games of all time.

BASE TWO

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A reprise of level two, but a bit tougher and nastier. Don’t touch the electric ropes, and don’t stay in one spot for too long!

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I just love that vast bleakness up ahead, as well as the little specks of red there. A really nice touch that makes it seem very ominous, indeed. Really accentuates the feeling of stepping into the great wide unknown…

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Watch out for the dough rollers as I used to call it back in the day. Hey, that’s what they looked like to me!

Blackness peppered with ominous red... oooh
Blackness peppered with ominous red… oooh
Konami you bastards. You did it again
Konami you bastards. You did it again

This is what lies ahead! Just like the boss of level two, except now with two heads to contend with! Again, you must destroy the pods. Some Eagle Men (as we kids called them) swoop down upon you in the process.

This was a somewhat tough boss as the little bubble shots it spewed required impeccable skill to successfully dodge. In typical classic boss fashion, once weakened, it’ll start to flash red.

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Damn right it reminded me of the Autobots and Decepticons. Man, you had Transformers, Nintendo and bloody Hulk Hogan all ruling the ’80s. What a time to be alive, eh?

transformersicontransformersicon2

 

 

 

 

Pretty damn similar, no? I liked how the red brain pulsated harder and harder the weaker it got. It made it more intense as if the thing was going to explode into a million bloody pieces!

SNOWFIELD

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Brrr… you may not need a jacket but you will need lots of skill and luck.

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Oh sure he seems harmless enough. But then factor in foot soldiers running up your back end [that sounds… painful -Ed.] and suddenly it’s not so easy now is it?

Not Yoda. Just only way to fit that text in, ha!
Not Yoda. That’s just so that the text can fit, ha!
They finally shoot back for a change
They finally shoot back for a change
Yah, you definitely need a potent firearm, or two players!
You definitely need a potent firearm, or two players!
We kids called this the UFO Boss. Creative, huh?
We kids called this the UFO Boss. Creative, huh?

ENERGY ZONE

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I like how each of the game’s locales has a slightly different look and feel. Aside from the two base stages, no two levels look alike. Gotta appreciate that.

Patience is required in level six
Patience is required in level six due to these flames
Awesome set piece!
Awesome set piece! Stay focused, or else…
Run through them like a knife through hot butter
Run through them like a knife through hot butter

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Remember Larami Corp’s Super Soaker lineup? Very popular stuff circa 1992-’93. First there was the orange Super Soaker 50 if memory serves right, then the OMG ultra-cool Super Soaker 100 which EVERY kid on my block had to have. My bro was the first to buy one and of course, he became a legend within our circle of friends. Good times.

They don't make 'em like they used to
They don’t make ‘em like they used to

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Little subtle touches like this tile floor changing colors right before a gigantic boss fight don’t go unnoticed. It’s the little details that make a game for me.

Well said
Well said

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Nobody did bosses like Konami did. You could say that they were the boss of that domain… [You’re fired -Ed.]

Somebody's been eating their Wheaties
Somebody’s been eating their Wheaties

Good ole 1988-1989. The year I was in Kindergarten. At the table with the big white styrofoam blocks I would share my tales with my friends of the battles I had with the “50 foot tall purple and orange alien monster.” My friends looked on with eyes wide open, urging me to continue my story. Just imagine this little six-year-old story teller will ya!

On a side note, back in 2008 I visited my old Kindergarten classroom to help out for a day. The teacher, remarkably, in her old age still somehow remembered me: an impromptu 20 year reunion! It was simply surreal. I looked over at the corner and saw that 1989 scene replay in my head — where I was weaving magic by the campfire about this Contra baddie. Mmm. Some things just stay with you forever.

HANGAR

This was my favorite stage of them all
This was my favorite stage of them all

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The imagery this level had was highly compelling to say the very least. Rolling mine carts, trident-esque hooks, hi-tech computer-y interior… there was just something about it that left a lasting impression.

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I love the spiked walls that would pop out of the ground. Sometimes weapons may get caught in-between as well. It’s a small detail, but they really do add up.

[Psssst. Manute Bol FTW -Ed.]
[Shoot. Manute Bol FTW. R.I.P. big man -Ed.]
Remember, I made these pics back in 2008!
Remember, I made these pics back in early 2008!
DUM DA DUM DUM!
DUM DA DUM DUM!
I love these damn spiked walls too much
I love these damn spiked walls too much
Contra is one macho video game
Damn right it is!

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You know, I think Konami might have been obsessed a little bit with stars. Almost every stage is outdoors and features stars. Red, orange, green, blue…

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Foot soldiers come trampling out the door and from behind, all while the turrets below sprout up fireworks. Two players really come in handy here, believe that!

ALIEN LAIR

Stage 8 is short and sweet
Stage 8 is short and sweet

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Ah yes, who could ever forget this epic mini-boss. We called him “The Long Neck Alien Monster” — catchy, huh? I remember not being able to eat shrimp for a while after seeing this monstrosity for the very first time!

Like I said, I made these pics back in 2008...
Like I said, I made these pics back in 2008…

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This last level didn’t host very many baddies but they were all  memorable due to their distinctly demented nature. As well as they should be, seeing as how the level takes place in an alien’s lair. It perfectly captures the foreboding mood of a giant mother alien waiting for you at level’s end…

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This is it. The final stand, the last whistle. My brother and I always had to kill all four pods before attacking the heart; it’s much more fun that way. Destroy the Red Falcon‘s heart to restore peace to the universe.

"ONE OF US HAS TO DIE!!!"
“ONE OF US HAS TO DIE!!!”

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Thanks for all the memories, Contra
Thanks for all the memories, Contra

NES Contra remains one of my all-time favorite video games. I credit it as the game that hooked me for life. I always enjoyed video games prior to playing Contra, but it was Contra that blew my mind in a way no other video game before it was able to do. My brother Kevin, my uncle Jimmy and I played it to death. Though oddly, as much as we loved it, we never bought it back in the day. But thanks to a mom ‘n pop shop called Evergreen Video, we must have rented it half a dozen times. Plus borrowing our friend’s copy, but of course we had to loan him our copy of Legendary Wings – a fair trade if there ever was one ;)

Contra steamrolled its competition in 1988
Contra steamrolled its competition in 1988

Each of the eight stages have their own unique quirks and little details you can’t help but fondly remember. It’s the sign of not just a great game, but one that somehow sticks with you for a lifetime. They are far and few between. Playing Contra is akin to going about your daily routine as usual, only to inhale a whiff of a comforting scent that takes you back to a certain period in your youth. A much calmer time when things weren’t so hectic and chaotic. A more innocent time if you will. Contra conjures memories of ’80s yore, and reminds you of why you love video games in the first place.

Where's Godzilla when ya need him?!
Where’s Godzilla when ya need him?!

Who could forget the sights and sounds? Konami were maestros. 25+ years later the tunes are still stuck in my head, and the bosses are firmly planted in my heart. Nobody could do bosses like Konami. They knew just how to spark your imagination, and really brought the enemies and end level guardians to life. Never have I played a game where we talked about the bosses as much as we did with Contra. They were awe-inspiring, gruesome and unforgettable. Killing them always felt so satisfying, and if you were anything like me, you shared “war stories” about it with your friends as if it were a genuine badge of honor. The game had, and still has, that special connection with gamers the world over. That is partly why we cherish it so, even nearly 30 years later.

Until we meet again, my friend...
Until we meet again, my friend…

From telling my friends in Kindergarten about my battles with the 50 foot tall purple and orange monster to the many nights my brother, uncle and I spent locked up in the gaming room blowing up alien chunks, I will never forget the fond memories I have of Contra. But it’s not just nostalgia talking. This is still a damn EXCELLENT game. One of the best on the 8-bit Nintendo in my humble estimation. Its gameplay fares well to this day, and it has a unique aura about it all its own. Mario? Yeah don’t get me wrong, the Italian plumber is cool and all, but here’s the game that made me a video game fan for life. Here’s the game that turned boys into men. And here’s the game that damnit, just might be my favorite NES game of all time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta get back to blasting some alien ass. Boo-yah!