Hard core, or hard corpse?
Sega Genesis owners were blessed; we got the most badass, coolest cyberpunk Contra game at the time when all of those Nintendo wussies were playing Contra III: The Alien Wars. Contra: Hard Corps was a tough-as-nails heavy metal album cover Contra game where you got to pick one of multiple characters (including a cute robot called Browny) and branching level paths. And today it has been out for 23 years and I feel old as hell.
Truth be told, there really is no debate among most people; Contra III is probably the better game, is probably more fair and evenhanded, and ultimately has far more memorable individual levels and moments than Hard Corps. But what a treat it was as a kid to own a Sega Genesis, and get such a cool, exclusive Contra game.
Contra: Hard Corps eventually had something of a spiritual follow-up in Hard Corps: Uprising for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 that was also a lot of fun and almost too ridiculously hard in some places.
Contra hasn’t had much love lately, but every now and then I love to go back and play Hard Corps. I usually don’t get very far, but the killer soundtrack and gritty art style are always a treat. If you haven’t tried the game, go check it out. (Tip: the Japanese version is a lot easier to play, but you won’t understand the dialogue. Not that it probably matters too much.)
Bonus: Here’s a longplay of the game if you can’t find your copy: