Review by Maccam16

"Contra in its greatest form is truly a masterpiece!"

Contra has been a cult hit for many years. Many diehard fans will tell you that it is one of the greatest games ever created. Everyone else on Earth will tell you that it's one of the hardest games. Well, both are correct. This installment of Contra is debatably the greatest in the series. With the recent PS2 version leaving mixed reviews and a sour taste in most mouths, I decided it was time to go back in time to experience pure guns-blazing bliss.

Graphics (10 out of 10):

These are amazing graphics. The Genesis can churn out some impressive eye-candy and this game doesn't disappoint. Everything looks great from the character sprites to the explosions to the amazingly detailed bosses. If you get close enough, you can see the nuances put into almost everything. The backgrounds are just as well as the important stuff. Leaving a great backdrop of a city turned to rubble in one level, and a city speeding by as you book it down a highway. Everything was done with care, and it shows.

Since this game isn't just a side-scroller, it makes some of the graphics even more impressive. In some levels, you run towards the screen as the background scrolls backwards behind you. This is an impressive effect for a game of its time, not to mention a type of gameplay entirely new to a Contra game. But we'll get to that later on in the review.

Controls (9 out of 10):

It takes awhile to really nail the controls. While it is pretty user friendly (it only uses the 3 main buttons), there are still a few things to learn. A toggles weapons, B shoots and C jumps. Pressing A whilst holding B will change to Shoot Mode II, meaning you lock your feet and can shoot in 8 different directions without running. This is essential to gameplay as some bosses are much easier dealt with once learning this maneuver.

And while I'm on maneuvers, the new slide move is one of the most important ones in the game. The slide is performed by holding down and hitting B. This will make you invincible to everything whilst you are sliding. It also adds a whole new level of strategy to the game. If you find yourself staring straight ahead at a bullet the slide will help out a great deal.

Once again, nothing is too complex but it all will still need some learning. The controls are very responsive and no lag can be detected. A point was deducted for the learning curve, however necessary the commands are.

Fun Factor (10 out of 10):

This game is tough as nails. It seems near impossible to beat when you're on your first run through the game. After playing each level through several times, you begin to learn all the bosses attack patterns and level schematics. This is what adds to the Fun, a tough game that really leaves a feeling of accomplishment when beaten.

There are several different gameplay types, not just the side-scroller traditional to Contra games. You have some levels where the background scrolls right to left and enemies come at you from all sides (the highway level), and some levels where you stay still and enemies come from the background (the level on the airship.) Each different type of level is just as tough and just as fun as the last.

The weapons are what truly make Contra unique and there are around 18 weapons in the game. Everyone has the traditional machine gun, but everyone has 4 weapons unique to them (including the machine gun upgrade.) So 4 x 4 = 16 + the machine gun + the super bomb = 18. It gives plenty of reason to choose the different characters. The weapons each have their own unique factors. The Flamethrower moves in waves (when you change directions, a wave of flame moves to that new direction unlike the regular guns that just switch to the new direction. The Flamethrower can theoretically shoot in all 360 degrees.) The grenade launcher launches grenades (duh...) etc... Each weapon is entirely different from the others.

When all of this is brought together, you have one game so unique that its a shame it was never duplicated. Sure, more Contras were released but I feel that no other game matches this one in the sheer amount of gameplay types, weapons and characters.

Replayability (10 out of 10):

And did I mention there are about 6 endings?

Even I haven't seen every ending but I've heard tale of 6 in total. But how can this be? You actually get to make choices at the end of certain key levels. After level 1, you have the choice to follow the man whose robot you just destroyed or respond to a distress call. This choice, as well as others, will actually effect the outcome of the game.

So now you have reasons to play it again, to make your different choices. But this game is so fun that even without these choices, you'd come back to it. I guarantee it. I think the review thus far has given enough reason to go out and buy this game.

Overall (10 out of 10):

This is not an average, I never average scores. A stellar game with a stellar price (about $10 at Funcoland/Gamestop.) Do yourself a favor and dig out your Genesis just to play this game. It's worth purchasing a Genesis if you don't already have one. And if you don't, that's a shame. There are so many other classics on this system. But those are other reviews for other days.


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/05/02, Updated 12/05/02


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