The NES Contra got a couple of new translations at the end of 2009, and I finally got around to comparing them to see how they stack up to the old MadHacker patch. I tried the Quest Games
patch first, ran along Area 1 wasting mooks... and died to the first turret. Have my meager skills dropped to Epic Yarn levels? No; that turret now spits out a nonstop stream of lead that makes death inevitable, settling back into its standard firing pattern after killing the player once. I didn't try further than the waterfall, but other occasional enemies likewise have a boost to their lethality.
To make sure this wasn't due to version or emulator differences, I compared the ROM unpatched and with Quest's/Stardust's/MadHacker's patches in both Nestopia and NNNesterJ (well, almost, since MadHacker's patch won't run in Nestopia).
Not that there's anything wrong with difficulty hacks, but I'm guessing the intent was only to provide a straight translation. I would've just PM'd JQM, but trying that gave me the message "User 'Jedi QuestMaster' has blocked your personal message," so here we are.