Leave it to Contra to bring back missile-riding in grand style. The fourth level of Shattered Soldier begins with its heroes dangling from missiles under the wings of a plane…
Which almost immediately fires off its payload. YES NOW WE ARE BADASSES AGAIN.
Probably the biggest difference between the missiles in Shattered Soldier and the ones in Contra III is that, this time around, you can actually control them in flight.
Above: This isn’t actually so bad…
And then, suddenly, THIS happens:
Above: OH YEAH. GIANT ROBOT ON WATER SKIS. HOW YOU LIKE THAT ACTION?
Once the robot’s defeated, you can watch the fireworks as you zoom safely away, secure in the knowledge that you’ve wreaked unimaginable environmental devastation and are clinging by your numb fingertips to a supersonic death trap.
This barely counts as a missile ride, but we’re including it because a bunch of you would probably complain otherwise. Seen by many as the most ridiculous moment in the GameCube remake of Metal Gear Solid, the cutscene in which Solid Snake takes down his clone brother’s helicopter gunship ditches the actual “riding” in favor of showing us what it would be like if Metal Gear’s target audience was a bunch of nine-year-olds.
Above: We apologize for the crappy quality of these shots. The game is awfully dark
As his Hind helicopter is on its last legs, Liquid Snake launches a salvo of rockets at his brother, who’s been making a fool of him with a Stinger missile launcher.
Above: Uh oh
Undaunted, Snake backflips over one of the missiles…
… and plants his foot on it:
Above: See that? That’s a foot making contact with a missile. For all of a split-second. That’s not a “ride,” it’s a boot-kiss
He then uses its leverage to leap high into the air…
… before taking aim with his heavy Stinger launcher and knocking the Hind out of the air.
Here, it’s less stupid when you see it in motion:
By 2004, it had become apparent that Contra just wasn’t Contra anymore without at least one missile ride, so Neo Contra upped the ante by adding two. Granted, both of them stretch the definition of “missile ride” a bit, but it’s Contra so we don’t care.
The first one is right at the beginning of the game, and it takes place in space, where an apparently rider-less missile is being prepared for launch.
The missile then streaks toward earth, turning red-hot as it enters the planet’s atmosphere.
Above: It’s like you can see the badassness building up
It then slams through a building before setting off a massive, city-leveling explosion.
When the dust clears, there’s just one thing left standing (or two, if you’re playing with a buddy): Bill Rizer and/or his sidekick Jaguar, right there at the center of the crater. This either means that he/they are invincible, or that they were in the rocket when it detonated. We’re pretty sure it’s the latter, but either way, it implies a ridiculous level of toughness.
The next one takes place much later in the game, when Bill and Jaguar get ditched on an about-to-explode flying aircraft carrier by that Animal Contra guy you saw a few screenshots back. As Animal makes his escape, Bill and Jaguar do the only thing that makes sense: they grab torpedoes and jump off after him.
Again, torpedoes aren’t exactly missiles, so this is a stretch. But again, it’s Contra, so we don’t care.
2004 was a pretty busy year for missile riding, and Jak 3 capped it off with one of the most epic missile rides yet.
It begins when, in one of the missions, Jak and Daxter are tasked with charging up a missile and slamming it into a force field.
Daxter, with uncharacteristic bravery, immediately takes charge and leaps onto the rocket…
… with predictable results:
After that, you’ll be tasked with steering the missile through aquatic minefields and other obstacles, with one hit meaning instant death as you gather Eco to charge the rocket’s explosives.
It was simple, but it delivered a better sense of speed than just about any missile ride before it. To get a better sense of what we mean, check it out in the following video:
Seen by many as the definitive instance of videogame missile-surfing, DMC3’s ride begins when, on their first meeting, Dante teases demon hunter Lady.
In a bad mood, she responds by (somewhat justifiably) shooting him with her bazooka, something she does without even looking.
Dante, who gets giant objects stabbed through his torso for fun, decides to play along and does a Matrix-inspired dodge to avoid the missile.
As he does so, he plants his foot on its underside…
… which then enables him to dart around the room, hooting and screaming like a jackass.
Once he gets bored of that, he boots the missile into the ceiling and lets it detonate harmlessly above him, creating a really cool explosion effect.
Still pictures can’t begin to do this justice, of course, so you’re better off taking a look at it in the video below:
Take a good, long look at this screenshot. If you look just above Snoopy’s Sopwith Camel, you’ll see his little bird friend, Woodstock, flitting around the wings.
That’s more than just cute window dressing. Woodstock is Snoopy’s indispensible ally in this surprisingly decent flight-combat sim, in that he fills in for the kind of missile-guidance systems that hadn’t been invented by World War I. That is to say, he rides on missiles and guides them to their targets, and you can control him while he does so.
It’s all good, though – when Woodstock gets close enough to his targets, he breaks off and flits away, letting the explosives do the rest of the work.
Not the most badass example, granted, but still – it’s a beloved cartoon bird riding on missiles. What more do you want?
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