Contra (魂斗羅 Kontora?) is a video game series produced by Konami composed primarily of run-and-gun style platformer games. The series debuted in 1987 as a coin-operated arcade game simply titled Contra, which was followed by the release of Super Contra in 1998 and several sequels produced for various home platforms.
The in-universe use of the term "Contra" is first explained within the Japanese instruction card of the arcade version of Contra, and reiterated in most games (including Contra: Shattered Soldier), as "a title awarded to a superior soldier possessing almost super human drive and ability, while excelling in guerrilla tactics."
In Japanese, the title is spelled with the kanji characters 魂斗羅 or Kontora. This is a form of ateji, in which the characters are used for their phonetic pronunciations rather than any inherent meaning they may have.
The arcade version of Contra was released on February 1987, a few months after the Iran-Contra affair was made public. While it is unclear whether the game was deliberately named after the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, the ending theme of the original game was titled "Sandinista" (サンディニスタ), after the adversaries of the real-life Contras.
Super Contra - The second Contra arcade game, later ported to the NES as "Super C".
Contra III: The Alien Wars - The first 16-bit generation game.
Neo Contra - The second game for the PlayStation. The game is most unlike its predecessor.
Contra: Legacy of War - A game from Appla Konami America.
C: The Contra Adventure - Another game by Appaloosa Interactive and Konami America.
Contra Force - A game intended to be its own franchise and ultimately being included as part of the Contra series.