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Contra: Rogue Corps (Switch) Hands-on Preview

by the NWR Staff - September 3, 2019, 11:19 am PDT
Total comments: 6

Contraversial Choices

One of the biggest surprises from the E3 2019 Nintendo Direct was the announcement of a new Contra title. The classic series had always been a staple of hard-as-hell NES games, although now it is more known for popularizing the famous Konami Code. But Contra: Rogue Corps resembles the original games in nothing but name only. The focus has shifted from single-player side-scrolling action to an overhead team based twin-stick shooter. And after Metal Gear: Survive, it feels like Konami is looking to throw another one of its classic franchises under the bus.

Contra: Rogue Corps takes place after the Alien Wars from Contra III. You play as a member of the Rogue Corps who is sent out to investigate reports of alien activity. There are four characters you can choose from. A generic dude, a generic girl, an alien bug creature that calls himself The Gentleman, and a big Panda. You know, the classic Contra characters. During the presentation, I was told that the generic girl was a badass, because she has an alien in her stomach that she must stab occasionally in order to prevent it from taking over. Yikes.

The game takes the form of a twin-stick shooter and consists of moving down different areas in a 4-player co-op mode that can be played both online or offline. Each character has their own specific type of weapon. The Gentleman, for example, has a giant laser that he can fire as well a flamethrower to burn down enemies. Weapons don’t consume ammo, but can overheat if used too much, meaning you must regularly swap between weapons. In addition to power-ups spread throughout the levels, there are also specific one-time use weapons like gigantic bazookas, whirling helicopter blades, and bombs.

Visually, the game looks unappealing. The colors are muted and blend together with the dull background and uninspired character design. I could not tell you what the enemies look like since they all fall on the same zombie/alien/cyborg spectrum. Even the bosses feel like big bullet sponges, with very few original elements to them. Combined with the stiff and static animation, I had to keep reminding myself that I was playing a current gen game instead of a GameCube title. In the heat of battle there was also noticeable slowdown, which makes me fear for how this game is going to perform on the Nintendo Switch.

While I only got to play this specific co-op mode, there is also a single player mode, which sees you playing through those same levels. What might be more interesting is the local couch 4-player co-op mode, which has specific hand-crafted levels for four players that are designed without the third person camera. Even though we got to see very little of this mode, it looks more like traditional Contra co-op levels. Konami also wants to push a specific mode called Carnage League, which they have described as ‘Pinball arcade crazy action’. Here you play a twisted game of soccer where you shoot an alien ball into a grinder (though you can also shove your opponents into the grinder, if you’d like). The developers are really set on making this mode something of an eSport, since this mode will also include many cosmetic items and will be supported by a season pass and DLC.

Contra: Rogue Corps does not feel like the glorious return to the hard-as-hell games that it is known for. Instead, it feels like a cheap branding move by Konami where they have slapped the Contra name on a new team based overhead shooter. Branding aside, Rogue Corps does not seem to have a lot going for it. The unappealing visuals, the repetitive gameplay, and a slew of modes that all seem to blend together has made me quite worried that another classic Konami name will soon be put to rest. Better pick up a copy of Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS while you still can.

The article is written by Willem Hilhorst. Follow him on Twitter right HERE!

Talkback

ejamerSeptember 03, 2019

Let me preface this by saying that I'm old, so I'm probably out of touch with what's cool.

Damn, that game looks like absolute trash. Leaving aside the Contra branding for a minute, everything about this new game looks like they are desperately trying to be cool but lack any actual substance to back it up. Maybe appearances are deceiving (although this hands-on report makes that seem unlikely)

As for the branding issue... well, let's be honest here. There have been at least a few Contra-branded games that were generally considered to be stinkers that didn't belong in the franchise, going back to Contra Force on the NES. Beyond that, the name really doesn't mean much to anyone young enough to be the target market for this new abomination (although some *might* have found and played an old copy of Contra 4... if they were lucky).

All of that said, the only thing I hope for is that this Contra "revival" bombs sufficiently that some talented dev team with nostalgia for good run-and-gun action does better.

Luigi DudeSeptember 03, 2019

Quote from: ejamer

All of that said, the only thing I hope for is that this Contra "revival" bombs sufficiently that some talented dev team with nostalgia for good run-and-gun action does better.

That already happen two month ago.

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/review/51086/blazing-chrome-switch-review

Ian SaneSeptember 03, 2019

My brother has stated numerous times without a trace of irony that "cool stuff isn't cool anymore".  That obviously exposes his age but it's true.  Each generation finds things cool that earlier generations might find incredibly unappealing.

So don't ask me if a kid today would find this game appealing because I'm an old fart.  But the use of the "Contra" name just seems so odd because that trailer doesn't invoke any nostalgia for longtime Contra fans.  Meanwhile the franchise itself has such infrequent releases that I doubt it has any value for younger gamers unless they're really into retro gaming (and if they are they'll be as upset as us geezers that this doesn't resemble Contra).  Contra in particular is a hard franchise to make hip because the original game is essentially Dutch from Predator and Rambo in an unofficial Aliens game.  The game's style was extremely 80's.

ejamerSeptember 03, 2019

Quote from: Ian

My brother has stated numerous times without a trace of irony that "cool stuff isn't cool anymore".  That obviously exposes his age but it's true.  Each generation finds things cool that earlier generations might find incredibly unappealing.
...

Ah, youth. The inability to distinguish quality from utter tripe because you've got no valid points of comparison...
8)

(There is some truth there, but only the slightly glimmer.)

The only hope this Contra game has of being cool is attracting a big enough user base that others want to join in... and then somehow retaining that base for more than a month despite being bombarded by all kinds of other games doing similar things but doing them better. I don't see it happening... but again, I'm old.

Mop it upSeptember 03, 2019

I'm always up for some co-op, but this looks like one to wait for a sale.

Quote from: Ian

So don't ask me if a kid today would find this game appealing because I'm an old fart.  But the use of the "Contra" name just seems so odd because that trailer doesn't invoke any nostalgia for longtime Contra fans.  Meanwhile the franchise itself has such infrequent releases that I doubt it has any value for younger gamers unless they're really into retro gaming.

The first thing the PR-worker for Konami asked our playgroup for Contra: Rogue Corps was: "Who here knows the Contra series?". After which only 3 people raised their hands out of the fifteen attendees. Mostly some of the older-eyeing crowd. This added to the idea that they have no idea who to market this game to. I think that the Contra name just gives them the attention this game needs, because if this wasn't called a Contra game, it probably wouldn't have garnered as much attention. The 'younger' gamers seemed to be interested in playing it, but of course it's hard to judge their feelings during a press appointment with a language barrier. I'm mostly wondering if I would've had a different opinion of this title if it weren't (marketed to be a) part of the Contra-series...

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Genre
Developer Konami
Players1 - 4
Online1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Contra: Rogue Corps
Release Sep 24, 2019
PublisherKonami
RatingMature
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