Contra: Rogue Corps is a hard twin-stick shooter that changes up the franchise

Contra Rogue Corps Key Art

Contra: Rogue Corps is the latest game from Konami, and it aims to bring back the nostalgic feeling of the classic Contra games while also adding something different to the table. A 2D side-scrolling game becoming a 3D game isn’t new, and the latest iteration is a twin-stick shooter with mostly a top-down isometric view. There are Contra elements like shooting weird aliens, nostalgic soundbites and music, and hard difficulty. Contra: Rogue Corps does have a completely different art direction, and the running and shooting mechanics leave a lot to be desired.

Contra: Rogue Corps takes place 8 years after the classic NES game, Contra, and it’s up to you and the Contra Hard Corps team to stop the alien threat. Right off the bat, you’re thrown into a chaotic world of Damned City, and the game tosses all kinds of fan service like familiar song riffs and camera perspectives. There are four different characters to choose from including Kaiser, the leader of the group with a drill for an arm; Ms. Harakiri, a sword-wielding badass with an alien inside her stomach; Hungry Beast, a cyborg panda; and Gentleman, a bug alien acting like an English gentleman inside a biomechanical armor. The characters are pretty wacky.

Each character has a unique special, and the main weapon of choice for Kaiser and Hungry Beast is the machine gun. Ms. Harakiri and Gentleman both use the laser weapon. Instead of reloading, the weapons will enter a cooldown period if the ammo limit is reached. This goes for secondary weapons as well, so it’s best to switch back and forth. There are ways to improve on your weapons’ damage and cooldown rate, and that’s through the workshop. There’s also the Surgery Room where you can replace body parts or purchase new body parts using credits. It’s a gamble if you go for the higher-priced surgeons, so spend your credits wisely. If you do succeed, the buffs include extra combo rate, increased shield defense, and more.

When going on a mission, you’ll be bombarded by enemies left and right. Contra: Rogue Corps doesn’t allow you to relax, and you’ll need to dash and shoot every chance you get. Dashing is a great way to get out of harm’s way, but once you dash, your character will take a little bit of time to adjust in regards to the direction of the aiming.

Contra: Rogue Corps does feature a timer, and this can be very aggravating if you want to take your time. Another issue is that the timer doesn’t stop if you want to pause the game to take a break. Of course, there are gamers out there who enjoy the challenge of no actual pauses, since it’s been implemented in hardcore hack-and-slash games.

The best way to play Contra: Rogue Corps is with friends, and you can do that with co-op missions or PvP mode. You can bring a friend with you thanks to online co-op or couch co-op. For those who have played Rocket League, Carnage League should be somewhat familiar. You get to team up with players and go up against another team in a giant pinball machine of death and mayhem. To score, simply shoot the alien ball into the opponent’s meat grinder. It gets crazier since the mode will throw more balls onto the level.

Other online modes include deathmatch where you can participate in 1v1 or go up to 4v4. Online gameplay is all fun and dandy, but it’s very pointless since matchmaking is nonexistent. Of course, your mileage may vary, but we couldn’t find any matches, lobbies or random players. We’ve tried busy times like Saturday afternoon, weekdays, and weeknights. The only sure way to play multiplayer is with friends by setting up a schedule or playing locally.

Overall, Konami has tried to bring something different into the franchise while still giving some nods to the old games. If this wasn’t a Contra game, it would be a decent twin-stick shooter. There are plenty of examples of a game that changes its style while still being praised. It all depends on the execution, and Contra: Rogue Corps mostly misses the mark. The game should still have some value for players who want a difficult twin-stick shooter, and the multiplayer is a lot of fun if you can find players.

Score: 3/5 Atoms

A PS4 copy was provided for review purposes.

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 10164 posts

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