Review by gearratio
"Kid-Friendly Contra? Yeah, right!"
So what if this game seems like a kid-friendly Contra to somebody? That should, in no way, detract from the overall playing experience and game's score. Although this game is definitely inferior to Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS, it has much more going on for itself, and definitely far more Contra, than Contra: Shattered Soldier. What you people need to consider is that this game is not a retail release; it's a Wiiware game. Keep that in mind when you play this game and have things to say about it.
First, let's get the "story" aside because that aspect is evidently the most ridiculous of it all. The game seems to take place in an alternate universe, really close to the events of the first game. Bill Rizer awakens nude from cryogenic sleep, in a space station of sorts. He's then greeted by a robot, Brownie, who takes him to the "galactic president", who explains the situation. Chief Salamander went back in time and basically caused mayhem on Earth. There's some excuse plot for you! Eventually, Lance Bean is sent in to investigate, but disappears. Of course, Bill Rizer is called into the action, in which this game takes place. I have to point out that it's very strange (and proves that the game takes place in an alternate universe/timeline) having Jaguar, from Neo Contra, fight alongside you. Furthermore, it's worth pointing out that the story takes the camp level of the Contra series way too far, with some of the most laughable plot elements ever. For example, why is Lance a cross-dresser?!
Anyway, the essential idea here is that you're not supposed to take the storyline seriously. Contra was never about storyline and this is no exception. In fact, I sometimes get the impression that this storyline satirizes the famous tropes associated with many 8 bit video games, especially North American Konami releases: "it's all in the manual" and Konami of America's treatment of game plots.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's absolutely awesome. Not only are the controls solid, the gameplay is perfectly adjusted to give that Contra feel. Speaking of which, this game is a perfect combination of Contra III, Contra: Hard Corps and Super Contra. One may agree that Contra 4 is analogous to the original arcade/NES Contra and then Contra: Rebirth is analogous to arcade Super Contra. Everything about this game pays homage to those legendary titles in the series, hence the Rebirth name.
About the controls, they offer the best choices to be able to play the game. Among the Wiimote, Gamecube controller and the classic controller, Contra fans (including me) would definitely recommend the third choice, although all 3 are excellent.
Enemies are well designed and fit the pattern of Contra games, having humans, robots and aliens to battle. The fast-paced, boss-intense (not rush) action of Contra: Hard Corps is present. Contra III's ability to hold 2 guns, one of the guns and the position lock are retained. Finally, the overall combination of visual style, detailed enemy animations and fast-paced run-n-gun action make Super Contra (arcade) fans feel right at home.
A lot of people are complaining about the cheesy look and questionable style of graphics. I honestly don't know what to say other than they must be really blind to miss out on how well the graphical style fits Contra.
The presentation of the game is phenomenal and there is no reason why any Contra fan should feel disappointed by the main menu, options screen,pause screen, etc. Fans will especially love the intelligent and exciting use of fire and explosions throughout the game. It all just looks so beautiful. They all fit together in a package that shows how much M2 put care into making the title. The style of Contra's story-telling action is especially retained in this entry. You start off battling in your infested space station, immediately followed by a battle with a space creature from out of nowhere while riding on space station debris heading for Earth. Next, you somehow make it safely to Earth on those debris, conveniently landing in the city overrun by the bad guys (ie, the center of it all). There is a level on a highway while you're riding atop trucks. And of course, there are also some alien levels. Do not say that this isn't in the same style as Contra, because that's a lie!
Sound effects are of good quality and the music is definitely top notch. The soundtrack is a perfect score and consists of remade tunes from Contra: Hard Corps, Contra III, Contra, Operation C and Super Contra and even Contra Force!
The most interesting part about Contra Rebirth is its difficulty. Not only is the game satisfyingly fast-paced and intense, but it caters for newcomers who have absolutely no skill in Contra. Some old school gamers may find that this ruins the experience, but they fail to use common sense by simply selecting a higher difficulty; and take my word for it: Hard and Nightmare mode are well worth being called a challenge.
As if that's not enough, the game provides some neat bonuses for beating the game, like bonus characters (who actually tweak the difficulty!).
I think the only major complaint I have (and most people have) is that the game is extremely short, even for a Contra game. It only consists of 5 levels (6 if you count the true final boss stage) and there are only 4 guns. You have the default machine gun, spread gun (hey, they at least have this, right?), homing missiles and laser. Even though this is the only flaw for me, it's not even a big flaw at that. Again, keep in mind that this is a Wiiware game, not a retail release.
Overall, I'd say that Contra Rebirth is definitely not an entry in the series that fans and action gamers alike should miss out on. If you're not into old-school gaming or will not give such games a chance, skip it. I believe this game received 2 awards and you know what? The game deserves them because I think M2 put a lot of care and effort into this title, which really shows.
For 1000 Wii points, I'd say that you go download this game and play it!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 12/01/10, Updated 01/06/12
Game Release: Contra ReBirth (US, 09/07/09)
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