Many consider Contra: Hard Corps to be up there with the original Contra 1, Contra 3: The Alien Wars, Super C and Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2) as the greatest Contra game ever, and Konami is no different in favoring that classic.
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“From a game design perspective, Contra: Hard Corps is interesting because it introduced a lot of new gameplay elements that really enhanced the feel of side-scrolling run-and-gun action,” explains associate producer Kenji Yamamoto. “It was a both a design and technical achievement. So we wanted to expand on that philosophical direction.”
I am a pretty big Contra fan myself and count the original and Contra III: The Alien Wars among my favorite games, so I am extremely stoked about what is essentially a new Contra title for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.
The game contains everything you’d expect from a modern side-scrolling Contra game, while dropping the “Contra” name (which I kinda think is a mistake). Fast-paced run and gun action, two-playable characters, a life-bar, screen filling bosses, great weapons, detailed, high-resolution sprites and an endless stream of enemies to take out with your endlessly streaming bullets of destruction.
Two of the game’s features, the life bar and the two playable characters, are direct carry-overs from Contra: Hard Corps. In the U.S. the NES game did NOT include a lifebar, making it extremely difficult to beat. But in Japan it DID have the lifebar.
Then you have the two playable characters, while the girl isn’t even named yet, the guy turns out to be . . . . Bahamut, the villain from Contra: Hard Corps! And while this game is a “spiritual successor”, his backstory to Contra: Hard Corps will literally be fleshed out in this game. He is THE SAME character.
“We were heavily inspired by Contra: Hard Corps, and since our game is really an homage to that particular game, it seemed natural to us to treat this as a loose spin-off than a numbered Contra game,” notes Yamamoto. “We thought the Bahamut character in Contra: Hard Corps was rather fascinating. So it was a fun challenge for us to imagine his backstory. This is our take on Bahamut’s early career as he becomes a hero in the Alien Wars.”
Since this is a Contra game, the title will be quite difficult. But it will also contain what’s being called a “Rising Mode”, which is essentially an easier difficulty or a whole other version of the game. In addition to including a lifebar, it also allows the player to upgrade their character by using points that you collect from blasting enemies. These can be used to upgrade your abilities, armor and weapons. Or you can choose to play the game the hardcore way, which will take away the character progression and lifebar.
“Difficulty-wise, it’s still no cakewalk, but you at least have a chance to build up your character to help you advance through the game and improve your shooter-playing skills,” says Yamamoto of the Rising Mode. “Run-and-gun shooters are so much fun, but they’re also known to be super hard. The new Rising mode enables more players, including ones who aren’t super-expert shmup players, to enjoy this thrilling kind of experience.”
The developers are also well aware of the fact that Contra is well known for containing flat-out AWESOME boss fights. So that will be a focus of Hard Corps: Uprising.
Although there is no official trailer yet, here is a gameplay video courtesy of 1UP.