Contra: Rogue Corps Review
Quick Glance: Contra Rogue Corps
Platform - Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Players – 1-2 (local and online)
Achievements – Yes
Retail Price - $39.99
High Level Premise – Run and Gun Shoot’em up
Graphics/Style – These aren’t the cleanest graphics you have ever seen, but holds true to the post-apocalyptic setting.
Music/Soundtrack – Remixes of some classic Contra tunes are included.
Story – Shortly after the events of Contra III: Alien Wars, a demonic city has appeared and it is up to you to get to the portal on top of the tower and destroy it.
Replay-ability – Medium - There are some things to upgrade and unlock, but once you have seen a level it feels like you have seen them all.
Time Commitment – You will be able to complete multiple levels in one sitting with no problem. Progress is saved in between levels.
Value – Medium - This really needs to drop twenty or so dollars to make it worth your while. If you are looking for a true Contra experience, you may want to look elsewhere.
Favorite Element – A Giant Panda wielding a mini-gun taking out a horde of enemies just about ties for 1st place with my character riding a giant missile into another horde of enemies. Can’t go wrong either way.
Can we all agree that Contra is one of the best shoot’em up franchises of all time? I remember spending many afternoons in my neighbor’s house trying to beat the army of the Red Falcon while munching on snacks and throwing back a couple Ecto Coolers. The premise is simple and really hasn’t changed much over the course of the franchise history. Shoot the bad robots and space aliens and save the world. One of the things that made this game special was the ability to go on the adventure with another player at the same time. Unfortunately, you cannot do this in Contra Rogue Corps. Sure there are a few scenarios you can play together, but you cannot play the main campaign with another player.
The controls are a bit of a mess as well. The game wants to be able to claim it’s a twin-stick shooter, but that isn’t really the case. The right stick allows you to aim but not shoot. Shooting is relied upon by pressing a shoulder button. While we are on the topic, let’s talk about the guns. Unfortunately a development decision was made to have a component in place where your gun would “overheat” for a period of time if you were shooting for too long. Presumably this was to up the challenge a little bit, but this comes off as annoying and against the true spirit of what made Contra so special, running and gunning to your heart’s content.
Some classic elements still remain, such as the signature spin jump in the air. With the top-down environments this is a little unwieldy to use for precise movement. The Spread gun still rules and is always welcome in a Contra game. Tons of baddies come your way and an extra dodge move is present to assist in taking down some of the shielded foes. There is some over the top wackiness that exists in Contra: Rogue Corps as well. One of the selectable characters is an oversized panda cyborg that has a human brain. Upgrades are available by purchasing body parts and swapping out different eyes, brains, and limbs. One special ability I found was enabling my character to ride a missile into a giant pike of aliens turning them into mush. There are also finishing moves that can be done to your enemies, but it slows down the pace of the game, and don’t really feel fluid. The one thing I absolutely hate about this game is the language. For some reason the writers decided it would be “cool” and “edgy” to include our heroes dropping swear words left and right. It almost feels like they were inserted into the dialogue as it doesn’t feel like it belongs, and ultimately it puts a stain on the franchise.
There is some fun to be had in Contra: Rogue Corps, as I had fun trying out the different types of weapons to blast my foes with. I also enjoyed the upgrade and customization system once I figured it out. There are some cool things to do like throw barrels at your enemies, or throw them into dangerous objects like a giant meat grinder. However ultimately it doesn’t feel like a Contra game. It feels like an attempt at Smash TV or Total Carnage but with an awkward control scheme. I really wanted this to be the next evolution in the Contra series, but what it ended up being was totally different than what was expected. There is a demo available, so maybe check that out first before diving in. If you are in the mood for some classic Contra, I highly recommend the Contra Anniversary Collection or the indie favorite Blazing Chrome to get your Contra fix.