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 practically look like BlazBlue: The Shooter, which is a very good thing. The crazy thing is this is still a direct Contra game, albeit with a massive aesthetic redesign. Am I for it? Oh damn skippy, I'm all for mixing up the norms, as Hard Corps: Uprising is one hot take on the franchise.
While it's visually stunning, when it comes to a Contra title, there are some gameplay standards to uphold. Yes, the game is brutally hard, as I was dying left and right, taking on wall bosses, motorcycle bosses, snipers hidden in the foliage of the new jungle level (which looks and plays great), as well as hundreds of oppressive Commonwealth soldiers and robots. The Rising Mode is the game's campaign, detailing the story and all of its conflicts, as well as offering upgrades to make the characters more powerful. Main character Bahamut and his lady friend, Krystal, are very capable at their jobs, and while the game may be extremely difficult, those who have grown up on Contra, Treasure games, and Metal Slug will have no problem here. That is, unless they play the actual Arcade mode, where there is no health bar, and thus, nasty one-hit kills.
Weapons were by far the most interesting part of the game, reminding me a bit of Gunstar Heroes. Players can juggle between two weapon slots, and while both will default to the normal shooting mode, players can collect new weapons -- I've seen a grenade launcher, charge shot, spread shot, homing laser, flame thrower, and machine gun -- which can be upgraded if they collect another of the same weapon. Unfortunately, if you get hit while holding onto one of these special shots, you lose them immediately, so only the best will be able to see the ethereal third-tier weapon upgrade.
All in all, Hard Corps: Uprising looks like a fantastic new addition to the Contra franchise. Even more, there is so much here that mixes up the series that new fans and those turned off by the traditional Contra tropes can take it for a wholly new experience. Keep an eye out for it later this winter on Xbox Live and PSN.