Contra Hard Corps


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 10

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9


The first true Contra title to not come from the group of future Treasure employees, Hard Corps manages to be a perfect addition to the franchise, as it expands the concept without losing the core that made them so fun in the first place. It's arguably one of the hardest games to ever bear the name, but it's worth the struggle to see it all. It's probably the best game from Konami on the console too.

Taking the concept from the awful Contra Force on the NES, players can select from four radically different characters, each of which changes the way you need to play the game. The weapons system is tweaked, as they are now stored once collected and can be switched on the fly when needed (or you can pause and select). When you die, you'll lose the weapon you perished with.

The game gets off to an amazing, brutal start, as the player barrels onto the screen, wiping out anything in their path. Once crashed, the person behind the controller takes charge, ripping apart what has to be a record number of sprites on screen. This initial stage is one of the best in the series, setting the pace and destruction level you can expect.

Though there are plenty of running/shooting sections, boss battles are far more dominant here than they were in other entries. Their designs, at times, seem to be more concerned with showing off programming skill, but that doesn't mean they don't put up a fight. They'll be the ones causing you to use the most continues, and you just don't care. As long as you can see what the developers have pulled off, it hardly seems frustrating.

Another change for this series is the storyline, with branching segments that lead to multiple endings. It would have worked if all the stages were bunched together for a complete game as they're all designed well enough. What this does is offer incentive to come back, all while mastering the stages and entering into a rhythm you'll develop yourself for getting through it all.

Beyond the special effects (which include rotation and transparencies that would be impressive even in a Playstation game), Hard Corps has the basics covered. Color may not be the consoles strongest asset, it's just that Konami makes them blend so well, overloading on detail and explosions. You'll be hard pressed to find another Genesis game that throws this much action one screen without slowing down. The variety in the stages keeps the game fresh regardless of the path you take.

Music isn't as strong as it is in the previous entry, Contra III. Some of the music is terrible, especially if you raid the research lab early on. The rapid, pounding pace of the boss theme does add tension (and it's probably the best in the game), while the explosions just don't have the punch they should. A few grainy voice samples don't help either.

Hard Corps does more than just provide an awesome Contra title. It's a fantastic tech demo for the Genesis and it contains more effects than Contra III on hardware that shouldn't be able to pull it off. It's always better playing co-operatively, though it's entertaining enough to go through solo. It's the final gasp for the series before it was obliterated on the PS One and Saturn and ignoring those games, it's a fine way to go out.


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Last updated: Sunday, July 03, 2005 07:57 AM