Nonetheless: I haven't played Contra, but as you say, while the game itself may not be handholding, that's a handholding feature. The game would be more of a challenge without it, it's everything else around it that means the game is still difficult even with it.
It was an NES title that was virtually impossible without the cheat code for 99 lives (you normally get 3). One hit death side scrolling shooter. Picture mario with guns and enemy bullets everywhere
. Even with 99 lives I'm pretty sure it was quite possible to run out before finishing it. It was the most UNnoob friendly game ever concieved. And for some reason, even though I didn't play it that much, I STILL remember the cheat code.
up up, down down, left right left right, A, B, select, start.... weird.
Regarding Foggle's quoted post above: I will probably create a save like that (had the same idea last night reading this thread) but whether I use it or not will highly depend on where the opening sequence falls on the Lame <----|----> Awesome scale.