Thursday, July 04, 2019

"Contra Anniversary Collection" Review

Such was the magic of the "Contra" games that it simply wasn't enough of a thrill to beat them once, even if you needed the legendary Konami code to scam enough extra lives to hump your way through.

Repeated, refined runs were the order of the day. Either solo or with a buddy in innovative multiplayer, it was every bit as exciting to spread-blast your way through the nests of alien soldiers and megaliths.

Konami's "Contra Anniversary Collection" brings back the sadly neglected franchise, resurrecting the run-and-gun action that entranced a generation of gamers into the ultra-macho, mano-a-alieno shootouts.

Included in the anthology are 10 games, the highlights of which include North American, Japanese and arcade versions of the original "Contra," the incomparable SNES gems "Super C" and "Contra III: The Alien Wars," the Genesis releases "Contra: Hard Corps" and "Probotector." Each of the entries is an exact replica of their original 1980s and 90s releases.

Each of the entries sticks to the same glorious formula: You play as a muscled hero who wields an upgradeable blaster, jumping, rolling and ducking as you lay waste to increasingly tough and aggressive enemies.

There's a balletic grace and well-choreographed rhythm to each of the levels. This is the sort of game design that wrote the textbook on pacing, enemy placement and power-up distribution.

Even tougher than the stubborn, half screen-sized bosses is the decision to choose which "Contra" game to play first. "The Alien Wars" has a soft place in my heart, and was a regular play-through from middle school through college for me. Now that this collection has deployed the game on my radar once more, it's earned a spot in my regular rotation again.

Publisher provided review code.

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