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Contra photo

There's a new Contra coming, for Android and China

Ahhhh, so lame
Nov 02
// Chris Carter
These days, retro-era publishers can get desperate. While they've made their fortunes on the traditional arcade and console market, other revenue streams can seem enticing after others have struck gold in ways they've never s...
Konami photo

Konami is asking what games we'd like to see come back

Seems like it forgot two key IPs...
Aug 21
// Joe Parlock
Everyone’s favourite publisher Konami has released a “heritage game survey”, asking players about some of its IPs (as seen in the image below) and how they feel about them. Importantly, it's asking what we&r...

Tomm Hulett's unified Mario Timeline Theory

Mar 04 // Jonathan Holmes
If you're not in a position to look at this truly luxurious and expansive image at the moment, here are a few words from Tomm about the timeline: "This chronology begins with the Magikoopa Kamek attacking a stork carrying the Mario Brothers, causing the events of Yoshi's Island. It splits immediately, with one timeline depicting the events that follow Yoshi's rescue of Baby Luigi, and the other charting his failure. "Similar branches follow each Yoshi title to create three separate realities based on Mario's parents: Blue Collar Hero, Action Hero, and Storied Hero -- the latter of which creates two new sub-realities surrounding the babies in Partners in Time being left in the adult world: the Babies Era, where Wario and Waluigi replace the heroes, and the Adult Era, where the babies grow up to live lives of their own. Additionally, the timeline branches after Donkey Kong and any game that involves dreaming. Finally, the Action and Storied Hero timelines merge via the resolution of Mario Galaxy, leading directly to Super Mario 3D World." Brilliant stuff, Tomm. I wonder what Miyamoto and company would think of it?
Mario Timeline photo
The mighty multi-Marioverse explained
Game director Tomm Hulett has been working in the industry since he was a kid, starting with a job testing NES games. Since then he's worked on everything from Persona, Contra, Silent Hill, and Adventure T...

NES Remix photo
NES Remix

Click your heels together and wish for SNES or GBA Remixes

Of COURSE we want additional games
Apr 23
// Brittany Vincent
When Nintendo feels like we get too close, it puts us right down. It's not the lover man that we want it to be, at least when it comes to fulfilling what can sometimes seem like lofty requests. For instance, remixes featuring...

Super Mario Crossover photo
Super Mario Crossover

Super Mario Crossover 3.0 is finally out

Work on the team's original game, Super Retro Squad, is progressing slowly
Aug 03
// Tony Ponce
Super Mario Crossover, the pixel-for-pixel recreation of Super Mario Bros. that features a selectable cast of NES stars, was all set for the big 3.0 update this past June. It was unfortunately delayed a month, but it is now a...

Possibly the best custom Contra figures ever

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Contra guys
Aug 01
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
You've probably heard the story, right? How basically Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone were used as "influences" when designing the cover and character art for the main heroes of Contra. Well someone has taken tha...
Contra: Shattered Soldier photo
Contra: Shattered Soldier

Contra: Shattered Soldier runs and guns to PSN next week

It's time to kill some aliens!
Jun 07
// Kyle MacGregor
Contra: Shattered Soldier is blasting its way onto PlayStation Network next week. Announced on the latest edition of the PlayStation Blogcast, the shooter will arrive as a part of next week's store update.  Original...
Contra on iOS photo
Contra on iOS

Know what's a great idea? A Contra remake for iOS

Jun 01
// Tony Ponce
A few months ago, Chinese developer PunchBox Studios unleashed upon the Asian market Contra: Evolution, an iOS remake of the original NES classic that adds touch controls, in-app purchases, and high-definition graphics. Kona...
Super Mario Crossover 3.0 photo
Super Mario Crossover 3.0

Super Mario Crossover 3.0 is just around the corner

Third major version of the star-studded fan game coming in May or June
Apr 28
// Tony Ponce
Three years ago as of yesterday, indie dev Exploding Rabbit's Super Mario Bros. Crossover was unleashed online, and the reception couldn't have been warmer. For the benefit of the unfortunate few who haven't heard of this da...
Chiptune rock photo
Chiptune rock

Check out this sick 11-minute NES chiptune rock medley

Psycho Crusher takes you on a musical tour of the best of the NES
Mar 09
// Tony Ponce
Guitarist Psycho Crusher, whose amazing rock arrangements I've shared numerous times in the past, originally composed this latest jam with the intent to play it live as a full band. Instead, he decided to turn it into a chip...
Music photo

Some classic game songs with a Middle-Eastern twist

Contra, Mario, Angry Birds, and more all get covered
Mar 06
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
I've listened to plenty of videogame musical covers in the seven years I've worked at Destructoid. Yet, this is the first time I've heard of a musical cover montage with a Middle-Eastern twist to them. There's even some games covered here I'd never expect, like Alley Cat. [Via The Awesomer]

The top ten Contra songs OF ALL TIME

Feb 24 // Tony Ponce
10. "Venus" - Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2) [embed]246547:47171:0[/embed] Shattered Soldier's soundtrack blends pulse-pounding techno, produced by Konami musician Sota Fujimori, with face-melting metal, done by none other than the legendary Akira Yamaoka. Contra gave Yamaoka a chance to let his inner metalhead out, which would surprise those who only know him for his much more atmospheric work on the Silent Hill series. The intro theme, "Venus," sets the tone for the rest the game -- a much darker, grimier Contra then you've ever played before. That intensity comes at a price: the soundtrack as a whole is very repetitive and doesn't lend itself well to standalone listens. But as the backdrop to your alien-murdering rampage, it will make you feel like a god. 9. "Alien Hive" - Contra 4 (DS) [embed]246547:47172:0[/embed] WayForward knocked the ball way out of the park with Contra 4. It is the most consistent game in the entire series, enhanced even further by Jake "virt" Kaufman's stellar soundtrack, which heavily re-interprets classic Contra tunes while adding plenty of amazing original numbers. "Alien Hive" may be the penultimate level, but its music makes it sound like heroes Bill Rizer and Lance Bean's final assault. It is intense and furious, made all the more haunting with sound bites of people shrieking in despair. And if you want to hear an even more amazing version of this track, check out "Let's Attack Aggressively!" off the Contra 4 rock arrange album Rocked 'n' Loaded. 8. "Area 2" - Operation C (GB) [embed]246547:47173:0[/embed] I'll never stop praising the incredible sound quality of the original Game Boy, so you better get used to my bringing up Game Boy music whenever I find an opportunity. The soundtrack for Operation C, the portable side story between Super C and Contra III, consists almost entirely of re-arrangements from the two NES games. With one notable exception. And like the amazing tunes in Castlevania II: Belmont's Revenge, it is so heavy on the bass that you could drown in it -- more proof that, if you are playing Game Boy without wearing headphones, you are doing it wrong. 7. "Ruins" - Hard Corps: Uprising (PSN / XBLA) [embed]246547:47174:0[/embed] Hard Corps: Uprising may not be the most curious entry in the Contra series -- that distinction goes to Contra Force, which technically isn't even a Contra game at all -- but it is easily the most unique. Uprising takes the franchise in a whole different direction, fueled by a soundtrack composed by Daisuke Ishiwatari of Guilty Gear and BlazBlue fame. Uprising features the same deft guitar work found in the venerable Arc System Works fighters, but the music that plays during the "Ruins" level is a little extra special. With the melodious incorporation of organ and piano sections, "Ruins" at first sounds like it could have been pulled out of a post-Symphony of the Night-era Castlevania. But then the crazy guitars come back and simply DO. NOT. QUIT. 6. "Boss" - Contra (NES) [embed]246547:47175:0[/embed] Easily the most badass boss theme of any NES game, this piece of music lets you know that shit just got real. Even though it only lasts 35 seconds before looping, I could seriously listen to it on repeat all day. I wish I could replace other games' boss music with this one. So why is it only played at the end of the two "Base" levels and nowhere else? I love the original Contra to death, but I can't forgive Konami for such a gross oversight. For shame! 5. "The Showdown" - Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES) [embed]246547:47176:0[/embed] If you ask me, I find the soundtrack to Contra III to be on the weak side when stacked against the rest of the series. Whereas Contra music is typically loud and rhythmic, Contra III's is a lot slower and more ominous, which I admit fits the game's apocalyptic tone. Some people swear by the music, but it simply doesn't feel like Contra to me personally. Which is probably why I don't remember Contra III as fondly as I do the other entries. That said, the final battle music is insanely cool. You have to test you might against against a gauntlet of progressively more aggressive bosses, including a few familiar faces from the NES days. To reflect the multiple phases, "The Showdown" is split apart into three movements, each more intense than the last -- the Contra equivalent of Final Fantasy VI's "Dancing Mad." Nice. 4. "GTR Attack!" - Contra: Hard Corps (GEN) [embed]246547:47177:0[/embed] I'm in the "Hard Corps > Contra III" camp. Furthermore, I believe that Hard Corps is the best Contra game period. I'm sorry if you disagree with me, but I couldn't give less of a damn. Among its many triumphs over Contra III is its hard rock-dance soundtrack that puts the Genesis' FM synth sound chip through its paces. And among the game's many different boss themes, "GTR Attack!" stands head and shoulders above the rest. Like the NES Contra "Boss" music, it unfortunately only plays twice -- but one of those fights is against an incredibly cool endlessly transforming mechanical chimera, so I'll let this particular musical oversight slide. 3. "Jungle Normal" - Contra 4 (DS) [embed]246547:47178:0[/embed] Paying homage to the original Contra "Jungle" theme is not an easy feat, but Jake Kaufman is not some bum off the street banging on a keyboard. He wanted to recapture that same feeling you got when you hopped off the chopper that first time back in 1988 (or 1987 for you arcade jockies) and felt empowered by the music. I'd like to think that he succeeded and more. Fun bit of trivia: Did you know that the "Jungle Normal" theme is actually a shortened version of a Contra-inspired chiptune that virt released way back in 2002 called "Vile Red Falcon"? "Jungle Exploder," the "Jungle Normal" arrangement found on Rocked 'n' Loaded, is actually more based on the original chiptune than the Contra 4 version. 2. "Jungle" - Contra (NES) [embed]246547:47179:0[/embed] It's one of the most iconic pieces of videogame music ever. Naturally, the classic "Jungle" theme would worm its way near the top of the list. No matter how many times I hear it, no matter how many times it's re-worked or remixed, it never gets old. I'm certain you all feel the same way too. Trying to describe Contra's "Jungle" music is like trying to describe perfection. It simply can't be done. You just hear it and go, "Oh, totally! Yes! Yes! That's right!" The memories all come flooding back: the exploding bridge that sent you into the drink, the glory of the spread gun, the wall. Boys became men and the Konami Code became a playground mantra. So why did I give it the #2 spot and not top honors? 1. "The Hard Corps" - Contra: Hard Corps (GEN) [embed]246547:47180:0[/embed] This is why. You begin with a shot of a city street overrun by robots, the skyline ablaze. Out of nowhere, you come barreling through in your armored truck, mowing the bastards down like weeds, until you collide into a broken-down car and fly through the windshield. You land unscathed, of course, and you proceed to blow everyone away. You rip apart a giant spider before an earthquake cracks the ground. A flame-throwing robot blocks your path, but you send it crashing into a building, knocking the structure over and giving you an incline to climb to the rooftops. Miles in the distance, you see a towering cyclops razing the city with its eye beams. It spots you and immediately jumps to your location. The sheer power emanating from its body causes debris to levitate, and you must flying cars and laser beams. And that's just a mid-boss! Meanwhile, the music is going BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! And you wonder why I'm calling it the best Contra song of all time!? It's read "hardcore" for a reason. BONUS! "Simon 1994RD" - Contra: Hard Corps (GEN) [embed]246547:47181:0[/embed] Even though "Simon 1994RD" is not in my top ten, there's no way I couldn't not mention it in an article about Contra music. In Hard Corps' third stage, there is an alternate exit that takes you to a secret tournament. Your first opponent is a strange afro-headed man who is a cross between Castlevania's Simon Belmont and Japanese vocalist Masato Shimon; he tosses a fish cracker boomerang while a dance remix of "Vampire Killer" plays in the background. Afterwards, you fight an alien baby in a carriage, then a tear in the fabric of space-time sends you into the distant past where you marry a monkey. God, I love this game. [embed]246547:47185:0[/embed]
Top 10 Contra songs photo
Sound Card 012: Rocked and loaded!
Castlevania. Mega Man. And finally, Contra. With this, my holy trinity is complete. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the greatest run and gun videogame series ever, Allistair Pinsof ranked the top five Contra games. ...

Ranked: The top five Contra games

Feb 23 // Allistair Pinsof
5. Contra: Hard Corps - 1994 - Genesis At long last, Sega fans had awesome Konami games to dangle over their Nintendo friends' heads with Castlevania: Bloodlines and then Hard Corps; a game that many series fans still hold as the plateau of dual-gun-totting, manly, hyperactive shooters. Playing Hard Corps between other series entries this week made me notice just how amazingly fast this game runs. Music cues up and grand entrances are made in The Alien Wars, but in Hard Corps robots just burst through walls and then it's on. Even the hilarious intro displays this attitude, with your chosen hero nonchalantly driving through enemies and a mini-boss before jumping out of his vehicle, beginning the game. Hard Corps is a practice in excess and it's what makes it a polarizing entry; not as in, "is it good or not," but "is it the best or not?" The multiple paths, characters, weapon sets, and endings makes Hard Corps the most replayable Contra, but it also makes it a bit unfocused and uneven. It also takes the series to a level of difficulty outdone only by Super Contra (arcade). 4. Neo Contra - 2004 - PlayStation 2 (also available on PSN) After Nobuya Nakazato (mastermind of Hard Corps, The Alien Wars, and BEST GAME SEGA GAME EVER Rocket Knight Adventures) got the series back on track with Shattered Soldier, he threw it back into rough waters with Neo Contra: The sequel that no one asked for and that few gave a chance -- but DO give it a chance! Neo Contra takes the half-assed top-down missions of Super C and makes a great shooter out of them. The speed, controls, and manic pace of action makes Neo Contra a Smash TV for the PS2 generation. It's kinetic techno soundtrack, ridiculous cutscenes, and unpredictable bosses make for one of the series oddest but best entries. It would be higher on this list if it were longer and more cohesive (two complaints shared with Shattered Soldier). 3. Hard Corps: Uprising - 2011 - PS3/Xbox 360 With no Contra name attached and a fighting game studio developing, expectations were low for Uprising and it was quickly forgotten after release. While I understand the reasoning for the former, I don't get why Uprising isn't hailed as one of the greatest digital releases of its time. Yes, it really is that good. Uprising does away with the grim, '80s sci-fi film aesthetic of the Contra series in favor for a brighter, Anime look that recalls Dreamcast titles. No more dark blue backdrops of cities in decay and giant, creepy robots. Despite this change in art direction, Uprising is a natural evolution for the series that combines all the control improvements introduced in The Alien War and Shattered Soldier. The levels are much longer than any Contra before it, but now the player can quickly dash through them and zip through the air like a ninja -- in fact, there is even a ninja player that makes the game play like Strider. Shattered Soldier missed the platforming elements that defined the series' best entries, but Uprising cranks them out along with crazy level design and boss fights that require tricky jumps and wall climbing. Uprising doesn't quite capture the spirit of the series, but it definitely plays like a Contra -- and a very good one, at that. 2. Contra - 1988 - Nintendo Completing Contra on one life is a right of passage for all gamers. It's the quest to videogame Mecca that all should make. Through this spiritual quest, you will learn just how tightly designed Contra is, how what you thought was cheap design was really dumb player mistakes, and that good, minimal design is timeless. It's true that Alien Wars and Hard Corps ramped up the action and visuals, but there is an elegance to the simplicity of the original. This isn't nostalgia talking, as Contra was never a favorite of mine growing up. There is a reason why the alien wall, waterfall, 3D stages, and opening jungle come to mind when thinking of Contra. Playing Super C and Contra back-to-back really highlights the subtle details in design that makes Contra a timeless, thrilling adventure. And, yes, I agree that it's too bad Super C didn't make this list. 1. Contra III: The Alien Wars - 1992 - Super Nintendo (also available on Virtual Console) This is when shit got real. Giant penis turtles, flying on a rocket, evil robot heads shooting friggin' lazers, creepy alien bosses ... this is when shit got too real. Like the original, Alien Wars remains a timeless action game due to the simplicity and restraint in its design. Every gun is perfect, every stage is different, and every encounter presents its own lessons to be learned. Sure, the Mode 7 levels aren't the best parts but they add some nice variety to the traditional stages. Sure, it's short but the campaign holds its own to recent Call of Duty's in offering a series of intense set pieces -- and, unlike Call of Duty, these set pieces are fully interactive and change the way the game is played. The Alien Wars brought about many clones on competing systems, but none were as bombastic, over-the-top, and sublime as Contra's magnum opus. [Image by Maher Al-Samkari]
Top 5 Contra games photo
When heroes, not douchebags, wore bandanas
While other kids were chasing mushrooms, leveling up mages, and debating boss orders, real tough guys were playing Contra. Though the series saw a dip in quality in the PlayStation generation, it still stands as one of the mo...


Sup Holmes gets rad with WayForward's Sean Velasco

Fight for right, the might of the dragon!
Nov 25
// Jonathan Holmes
[Destructoid's Director of Communications Hamza Aziz asked Jonathan Holmes to make a show called 'Sup, Holmes?' so that Destructoid could later sell a t-shirt that says 'Sup, Holmes?' on it. This is that show. Subscribe ...

How I learned to love the videogame flamethrower

Aug 23 // Chad Concelmo
Let’s start with the earlier years. Or, as I like to call them, the days I despised the videogame flamethrower. Dramatic, I know. While not actual flamethrowers, there were many games on the NES that had flame-based weapons that behaved much like the modern flamethrowers of today. In Ghosts ‘n Goblins there was the fireball weapon. In Castlevania there was the holy water. In the original Contra there was the dreaded fire-gun power-up. All of these weapons had one major thing in common: They were terrible. Well, more specifically, they were either short range, slow, or, even worse, both. This seemed to be a theme with all fire-based weapons leading up to the introduction of the actual videogame flamethrowers. They all focused on the burning part of the weapon, and not on the things that could potentially make them useful in a fast-paced action game: mainly range and speed. Yeah, if you happened to catch an enemy in the perfect position, a fire-based weapon was great. Should a flying devil be right in front of you and not moving in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, sure, the fireball would work wonders. It not only would hit them directly, but the burning fire left behind would deal even more damage. But that never happened! EVER! This same concept applied to almost all the games I used to play with flamethrowers. In Contra III, if my friend had the spread gun while I had the flamethrower, they would be leaping around the screen killing everything, while I would be struggling to even stay alive. The fire, while cool-looking, would not reach far enough to do any significant damage to the enemies constantly filling the screen. The weapon did not mesh with the frenetic gameplay. After years and years of playing videogames, I was finished with flamethrowers. If there was one as an option in the game, I would avoid it like the plague. As cool as I thought the firebats in StarCraft were, I would never manage very many of them. I was more addicted to the far more effective marines and their long-ranged guns. Same goes for the fire flower in Super Smash Bros. or the various flamethrowers in the Ratchet & Clank games. Sure, Peach burning Pikachu in the face with a giant flame makes for a great screenshot, but I never liked the way the weapon handled. I like attacking my enemies from a distance if given the option. I don’t mind standing in front of them to do damage, but give me something that will knock my enemy back or feel more impactful. With a flamethrower, you have to use the “burn and run technique.” Basically, burn them with a few sprays of fire, let the flames do damage while you run away and avoid retaliation, and repeat until the enemy is dead. This is not my preferred fighting method. But then something funny happened. As I started playing more and more games, the flamethrower started to feel more effective. Eventually, I started to love it. Now, I even make a point of using the weapon as much as possible! So what happened? I think this dramatic change occurred when I played games that used the flamethrower in the best way possible. Not just as a random weapon selection, but as part of the strategic gameplay. A very recent example is stellar XBLA game Bastion. In that game, the flamethrower handles like it does in most games. It doesn’t have a long range, drains power when used, and requires the main playable character to be very close to the target to hit them. What Bastion does differently is implement some actual benefits for using this very specific weapon. Breakable objects are all over the world of Bastion -- breakable objects with tons of loot hidden inside -- and breaking them can take some time. With the flamethrower, everything can be destroyed much quicker and easier with a giant wave of flames. Because of this, I started to love using the flamethrower in the game. True, it can be argued that the flamethrower has always had specific uses in every game it is featured in, but I don’t think that is always the case. This may be accurate for certain games -- I think the firebat balance in StarCraft is genius, but it is just not my preferred unit -- but in most games, I think the flamethrower is added because the designers thought it would add more variety and, frankly, just be really cool to look at. How else to explain why a short range flamethrower is featured in a chaotic action game like Contra.  It makes no sense! That’s why I never liked the flamethrower. It just never had a practical use in the games I played. But, lately, that has changed. Outside of Bastion, there have been many other videogame flamethrowers that I love. While hard to get excited about due to the dark subject matter, I respected and enjoyed the flamethrower levels in Call of Duty: Black Ops. The weapon felt like part of the story when used and really helped up the tension and realism of the awful, heart-wrenching scenarios. Games like Singularity, Scribblenauts, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, and Team Fortress 2 have also used flamethrowers in clever, much more user-friendly ways. Heck, even though it was wielded by a boss, I even loved the badass flamethrower in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Years ago, after grabbing an “F” power-up and begging my friend to help save me while playing Contra III, I would have never thought I would learn to love the videogame flamethrower. It left just as bad a taste in my mouth as the Top Spin from Mega Man 3 (Don’t even get me started on the damn Top Spin in Mega Man 3!) But now I have come around. I love the videogame flamethrower and genuinely get excited when it makes a surprise appearance in games. Swinging a giant wall of flames back and forth may not be the most effective way to get the job done, but, man, if it isn’t the most satisfying.   ----- What do you think? Do you have a similar relationship with the videogame flamethrower? Are there any other videogame weapons that you were once cold on, but have since come around? Or are there certain videogame weapons that you hate and will always hate?

I was never a fan of flamethrowers in videogames. I am not sure exactly where this started, but I have a pretty good idea: When I used to play Contra III: The Alien Wars with friends, I would do anything to avoid getting the ...


What is the most consistently great series of all time?

Jun 21
// Chad Concelmo
After yesterday's official announcement of Metal Gear Solid 5 (woot!), I started thinking about how there really aren't any bad games in the entire, long-running Metal Gear series. All of the Solid games are near perfect, the...

This weekend on Twitch TV: Big ups to all of the lurkers

Mar 16
// Bill Zoeker
As another week of programming on Destructoid's Twitch TV channel comes to a close, and the excitement of the weekend approaches, I'm going to take this opportunity to do something slightly unorthodox. Spamfish and the Melted...

Super Mario Crossover version 2.0 finally available

Feb 09
// Conrad Zimmerman
Super Mario Bros Crossover, a flash game which takes characters from classic videogames and puts them into a recreation of Super Mario Bros., has had an update in the works for over a year now. Version 2.0, which we first tol...

Super Mario Crossover 2.0 breaks the generation barrier

Jan 17
// Tony Ponce
A couple years ago, Jay "Exploding Rabbit" Pavlina had the idea to remake Super Mario Bros. with 100% accuracy down to the last pixel... with the added twist of being able to play as other NES stars such as Mega Man, Link, S...

There's a new Contra coming, but that's all we know

Jun 02
// Dale North
Sorry to waste your time making you read past the headline, but we don't know anything about this new Contra game. In fact, our 'source' is a blazing "C" shown in video form at Konami's pre-E3 event. The good ol' Contra "C." ...

Hard Corps: Uprising kicks off XBLA House Party

Feb 16
// Jordan Devore
Xbox Live Arcade's House Party is in full effect now that the parents are off vacationing in Hawaii. (What can possibly go wrong?) The first title for this batch of releases is rather fitting due to its in-your-face batsh*t i...

When we last saw Hard Corps: Uprising at Comic-Con, our Dale North came away quite impressed with the flashy sidescrolling shooter from Arc System Works and Konami. After all, the stunning 2D animation makes this title p...


SDCC: Don't hate: Hard Corps Uprising is great

Jul 23
// Dale North
We've talked about the Contra-inspired Hard Corps: Uprising before, but I spent some more time with it today, and I have to wonder why some are hating on the game. Yeah, it's not the beefy, manly Contra, but then again, it do...

E3 10: Holmes and Contra vs. Hard Corps Uprising

Jun 20
// Jonathan Holmes
Me and Contra are pissed. For some reason, Konami and Arc Systems have totally forsaken us. Their upcoming XBLA/PSN release, Hard Corps Uprising, is a Contra game. It just is. To play it is to play a game from the Contra ser...

Konami XBLA 'classics' to hit retail at odd price

Dec 08
// Nick Chester
According to Amazon, Konami will be bringing two Xbox LIVE Arcade game complications to retail this month.  Konami Classics Volume 1 will feature Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Frogger, and Super Contra. The second ...

The first level of Contra remade in Half-Life 2

Nov 24
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Someone remade the first level from the original Contra using Half-Life 2. You all should be extremely familiar with this level as you've died at least a thousand times in it. At least. It's pretty awesome getting to see thi...

The Memory Card .67: Scaling the waterfall

Sep 17
// Chad Concelmo
"The Memory Card" is a seasonal feature that dissects and honors some of the most artistic, innovative, and memorable videogame moments of all time.Online multiplayer is revolutionary. The fact that almost every con...

Review: Contra ReBirth

Sep 14 // Jonathan Holmes
 Contra ReBirth (WiiWare) Developer: KonamiPublisher: KonamiReleased: September 7, 2009 MSRP: 1000 Wii Points ($10) Contra ReBirth solidifies what the now-two-games-deep ReBirth series is all about. "ReBirth" in this context doesn't mean "re-imagining" or "reinvention," as you might guess. Instead, these ReBirth titles are love letters to the games that came before them. If you ever loved a Contra game, you're sure to enjoy Contra ReBirth. That said, even without the Contra name, Contra Rebirth would still be a short-but-sweet, entertaining, even funny two-player shmup with charm and excellence to spare.  I fell in love with the game before I even started playing it. The opening cinema blew my mind. The inclusion of a real-life military leader/political activist into the game's narrative shows that the writers behind this game truly understand the special real-history/Hollywood/fantasy connections that make the Contra world what it is. I don't want to give away all the details, but rest assured that references to multiple Stallone movies, American sci-fi epics, and real wars are a part of the game from start to finish. In other types of games, this kind of stuff might seem stupid, but it all makes sense in the world of Contra. This is war, as seen through the childlike perception of someone who learned everything they know about warfare from going to the movies and watching the evening news. This is the glorification of blowing stuff up and taking bullets for only vaguely understood ideals, against an enemy that you don't know a thing about. Being a Contra is being a man who bravely fights against insurmountable odds all for the sake of, um, I don't know... whatever. It's as ridiculous as it is awesome, and that's what makes it Contra.  The game itself plays out like a concentrated blast of set pieces influenced by other Contra games. Like with Gradius ReBirth, all the music here comprises remixes of stuff from past Contra games, ranging from the first game all the way up to Hard Corps. Contra ReBirth consists of five stages, with stages one, three, and four being only vaguely reminiscent of prior Contra games, and stages two and five being more direct lifts from levels of previous games. Though a few are recycled, there is little to no filler in any of these stages. You can expect to see a new enemy, mid-bosses, and environmental hazards to pop up at least every two or three minutes. The game only contains three guns from the traditional Contra arsenal: spread-shot, homing missile, and laser. That may seem a little small, but those are the three weapons that everyone likes the most anyway. That design decision pretty much sums up the Contra ReBirth credo -- cut out the fat and give the player non-stop Contra-ness from beginning to end.  The game does a pretty good job of it, too. Its large bosses, constant explosions, and extreme situations almost always keep pace with the best moments of past Contra titles. The game looks exactly how you probably remember Contra 3 on the SNES looking, but compare the two face to face and you'll see that the animation in ReBirth is much smoother, and the sprites themselves are at a higher resolution. Nothing here quite matches the silky-smooth visual majesty of Contra 4, but there are plenty of big-time, old-school set pieces to make up for that.    Hopping on bits of debris as you re-enter Earth's atmosphere, all while fighting off a giant space crab/caterpillar, is one of the earliest examples of the game's efforts to keep pace with Contra 3 and Contra 4. Later, you'll hang for your life from the ribs of speeding purple robo-llamas, and blast an alien ninja hanging from an incoming rocket as you dodge a screen-filling barrage of flaming shurikens. Sadly, the game peaks a bit early. Stage 3 is clearly the most fun that the game has to offer, and from there, things get a little less awe-inspiring. That's okay, though, because even at its, worst the game is still a lot of fun, and it throws out one last gasp of glory in the form of its "true" last boss (only seen on Normal difficulty and higher). Your final victory is then punctuated by what is probably the funniest display of videogame logic in recent memory. Again, I don't want to give it away, but let's just say that Dutch from Predator would be proud.  Speaking of difficulty, Contra ReBirth is a lot more fair than Contra 4 and the other more punishing entries in the series. The game is still tough, especially on Hard difficulty and above, but it never relies on forcing the difficulty by overly limiting your allowance of continues or extra lives. Even on the hardest difficulty, you have unlimited continues, and each level has at least one mid-level checkpoint. You may get killed tons of times in this game, but you're rarely forced to start too far from where you last died, which keeps things exciting without ever becoming too frustrating. Fans of Contra 4 may find that disappointing, but c'mon, guys -- if you really want the game to have limited continues, just use some self-restraint and limit the amount of times you continue yourself.     The game does cheat a little when it comes to replay value. In order to unlock all the game's content (including extended endings, two new characters and an extra difficulty level) you have to beat the game on Easy, Normal, and Hard modes. This forces you to to play the game at least three times over to really get it all, effectively extending its total length without really adding too much content. That said, the four difficulty settings do offer fairly different experiences, which shows just how much of an impact enemy placement and frequency can have in a game's design. That robo-llama section I told you about? On Easy, it's a death-free cake-walk, on Normal it involves some risk of life, and on Hard it's a true videogame "trial of life," complete with swear-inducing instant deaths and need for pixel-perfect platforming. Of course, playing the game with a friend helps make the experience less difficult, but not even backup from a buddy can make robo-llama gymnastics any less dangerous.  The only complaints I have about the game come from what it's missing. It's a bummer that the leaderboards and recordable replay feature from Gradius ReBirth didn't make the jump to Contra ReBirth. Also, even at its meatiest, the game is still a little on the light side. Other than the comedy elements and the new characters, the game doesn't really add anything to the overall Contra experience. Stages are generally half the length of those found in Contra 3, and the average player will beat the game's Easy mode in under half an hour. Die-hards will be playing Contra ReBirth for a lot longer than that, though. I still can't beat Nightmare mode, but I know that for the next few years, I'll have fun as I die trying.  Contra ReBirth will likely come off as a bit of a letdown for those going into the game expecting Contra 5. This isn't an extension of Contra 4, or even Contra 3. It's a gaiden game; a lower budgeted, high-fructose snack to tide you over between sequels. Still, there are a few things that the game does better than other titles in the series. It's the only Contra game I've played that's intentionally funny, and it seems to be completely aware of the full scope of the series' appeal. If Contra 4 was too frustrating for you, this could end up being your favorite Contra game of this decade. Fans of the series and the run-and-gun genre should pick this up without hesitation. Contra ReBirth is both a nice tribute for fans and the perfect place to start for those Contra virgins who've ever wondered what the series is all about. Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.) 

The surreal mixing of Hollywood references, real-life political terminology, and sci-fi craziness has long been a staple of Konami action games, but the Contra series takes that special brand of weirdness to another level. In...


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