Did we expect too much from the new Contra?
The Contra series is old, the original being launched back then in 1987, and perhaps most of today’s mainstream gamers don’t even know it. The game that went through every one of the older consoles, and had a very advanced shooter mechanics for the time, alternating between vertical and horizontal progression during each of its levels. It was very marked by extreme difficulty and refined gameplay. Thirty-two years after the original release, Konami gives us a rereading of the series in Contra: Rogue Corps.
“Contra” was born in the platform 2D, with shots to all sides, quality pixel art and that striking soundtrack that throbbed with excitement and kept us from giving up, even with the extreme difficulty. The series has already flirted with several other genres, migrating to 3D hard on the first PlayStation with the traumatizing “Legacy of War” (I remember it even accompanied 3D glasses, the same cellophane), embracing the “Smash TV ” style with” Neo Contra “on PS2 and back to basics with” Shattered Soldier “a while later. No problem, it is common to break new ground.
Despite being 3D, i must confess that the first trailers excited me. Seeing all the madness of insane characters in the midst of frantic shootings was all I wanted. Perhaps we’d finally get a Contra title that was an equal to the classic games of old. After all, it’s been several years since a good Contra game released.
Go back in time, when I lost a lot of money in the arcade chips, unsuccessfully trying to reset the first games in the Contra series.
Contra: Rogue Corps Gameplay
The story of the game is very generic, an invasion of demons, a city taken, blah blah blah… No one expected a super elaborate plot either, I will not consider this a negative point. It’s just an excuse to shoot and blow things up.
The game is set two years after the events of Contra III: Alien Wars where, despite destruction, humanity has prevailed. A sinister city emerges out of nowhere, the Damned City, with its horrors and demons, making any sane person that goes there returns completely distraught and insane. Right in the footsteps of Cthulhu’s best tales. Only people who were already half-damaged could get in and out without psychological damage. Enter the mercenaries that the player controls, with basic missions like: destroy and shoot everything that moves. This premise made me pay extra attention to the introduction of the game.
Without a lot of trouble, Contra: Rogue Corps is a disappointment and I can prove it. Starting with the graphics, extremely dated and poorly polished, with pre-rendered scenarios dubious taste and enemies… well… enemies that seem to have come out of two generations of consoles ago. The effects are pretty weird and in fact it really looks like a game worthy of a good PlayStation 2. Okay, the Switch is no Ferrari of graphic power, but for a big game at least a little more whim was expected. And even running on the PS4 Pro the game doesn’t look much better and suffers from random drops in framerate.
Playable characters are a failed attempt to create captivating characters. But they are just bizarre. Very bizarre to tell the truth. Each of the four characters available has its own evolution, meaning it is best to choose one of them and dedicate yourself there. Kaiser is the standard bodybuilder Schwarzenegger with rifle and missiles; Mrs. Harakiri has a demon in her belly and, like the anthropomorphic bug alien Gentleman, prefers a laser beam as a slow, difficult-to-handle main weapon. The most commented since the announcement of “Rogue Corps” is The Hungry Beast, the nervous panda and his huge revolving submachine gun, in “The Predator” style.
Other than that it doesn’t make much difference which character you are controlling, as their movement and weight are exactly identical. Even weapons can be exchanged with each other so what basically changes are a few special hit animations, which in the end are all the same because they have the same effect. What really differs one character from another is the animations of their special moves. Against everything and against everyone (the players).
Konami, You Had One Job
Now, in this sea of negative reviews, one stands out: the gameplay. If with all that I said before, the game had good controls and was fun, there might have been some pleasure in playing it. But no, the way to control the game is bad, the right analog does not control the camera, but the aim. But in a confusing, unintuitive way and with a strange sensitivity.
The camera ranges from isometric to uncomfortably close in order to create tension at certain times, and this lack of camera control in a 3D game has caused a great deal of awkwardness. Any player who has been used to gaming for the past 20 years will be surprised by the general inconsistency, the drop in frame rate, the bad decision to incorporate a weapon cooling system and the aggressive onslaught capable of baffling the demons.
The characters move and aim like real tanks, but light and fast. A kind of worse Resident Evil. I know a lot of players don’t enjoy hand holding, but some kind of aim assist would be welcome.
Physics is virtually nonexistent and the characters have no weight on the scenery, skating and sliding as if there was no friction. Enemies all seem to have artificial intelligence turned off, as they walk straight toward you or stand motionless, not always firing at you.
So what’s good in Contra: Rogue Corps?
Not to say that everything is horrible, the game has some cutscenes in the “animated comic” scheme, with a very cool style and that is by far the most beautiful thing I saw during the whole gameplay of Contra: Rogue Corps. If you’re a fan of the classics, forget about Rogue Corps.
Unfortunately Contra: Rogue Corps in no way resembles the Contra franchise. To top off the idea, “Rogue Corps” still incorporates RPG elements upstream, with level system, organ transplantation to improve character performance (which is very useful, after all it is essential to start the stages with more lives, since there are no checkpoints and losing all lives means starting over) and a dysfunctional weapon design scheme. There are dozens of items that, when combined, don’t look much better – at least you can see the result before you waste it.
The game has a lobby where you can move freely and can customize your weapons, buy new ones, choose which character to play, and which missions to do. Online and local co-ops are available in a separate campaign phase system within the infamous procedural scheme of being. Since the game is not easy at the higher ranks, it may be a good idea to collect extra gear with your friends. Other game modes include PvE and PvP, a complete shortage of people to play with. Good luck trying to close a room in these extra modes. So not even the multiplayer saves the game, because instead of only one person being angry, more people will be.
Slight Disappointment but we still (kind of) love it
So it is sad to see that “Rogue Corps” does not remotely refer to any iconic moment the franchise has had in the past, much less create something commendable for itself. Contra: Rogue Corps is frustrating. Not only for Konami, who allowed this game to catch the light of day, but mainly to the player. Not only for those who are fans of the saga and wanted a bit of nostalgia (which doesn’t exist here), it’s frustrating as a game, unlike the previous ones where the difficulty was a charm and winning depended on their dexterity with the controls, here the difficulty comes from the fact that you can’t do what you want to do.
It’s really a shame because the retro wave that has been taking games lately could bring us a revival of our beloved series. But there’s no nostalgia, nothing of the classics, and no fun either. If you want to play Contra, head straight to Contra Anniversary Collection for a lot more fun (which isn’t too difficult). If you’re up for different title from the series you can check our list of all Contra games and pick the one you like. Another option if you want to play a new, really good “Contra-like” game you should try Blazing Chrome. And of course, check out other games recommended here on Contra Central!