Sometimes, making a game play like it would had it been made during the 8-bit or 16-bit eras and modifying it for today’s audience can be a good thing...Other times, like with Neo Contra, it’s not so good of a thing. After the success of taking the series back to its 2D gameplay roots with Contra: Shattered Soldier on the Playstation 2, Konami decided to create another Contra game. However, rather than stick with the formula proven to work with their franchise, they opted to go in a new direction while still trying to keep old-school gameplay in as well. The result is passable, but far from great.
Rather than sticking with the 2D side-view for this entry, Konami went with a top-down perspective similar to that of Smash TV or Robotron. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it turns into one when you begin to play. It’s very difficult to aim in Neo Contra. It almost seems as if you’re unable to shoot in all directions and only limited to angles that are multiples of forty-five degrees, instead. This makes it difficult to get used to. Granted, with time, you’ll learn to position yourself better to overcome this flaw, but there really shouldn’t be a need for that. In a game like this where enemies are coming at you from all angles, you should be able to easily shoot from all angles.
Another aspect of the game that may turn many players off is an aspect that is well known in regards to the Contra series; the difficulty. However, this game is almost the opposite of previous games in the franchise. Gamers expecting hard-as-nails boss fights won’t really find them here. Most of your deaths will come from trying to position yourself to aim in the right direction and not directly from what the boss is doing. Most of the bosses tend to go down a lot easier than you’d expect, too...And their patterns are very easy to learn and avoid. This just makes the controls all that more frustrating...It makes you feel as if you could be doing so much better. It just feels cheap that you often feel the challenge in the game comes from overcoming the controls rather than the hordes of enemies coming at you on the screen.
Neo Contra also suffers from a lack of depth. There isn’t anything to do except play through a few levels repeatedly. It won’t take you too long to finish the game...Maybe two hours tops. Then all you’ve got left to do is just play through again and try to beat your previous score. That would be fine if the game played so well that you’d want to keep playing...But, unfortunately it doesn’t. So, while the game is still fun with its broken controls, it won’t last long. Most folks won’t want to bother playing through the levels again once they beat them.
Now, not everything is bad about Neo Contra. Like I said in the previous paragraph, even though the controls bog down the overall experience, that doesn’t mean that the game isn’t still fun to play. On the contrary, Neo Contra can be a blast to play; especially when playing with a friend. The audio isn’t bad, but it’s nothing you’ll really remember after playing...Though techno music doesn’t really seem to fit well with all of the alien killing and such that you’re doing. The graphics are basically simple, but some of the grotesque alien bosses are very detailed and look very nice. Also, while they aren’t much, there are unlockable extras for beating the game like new weapons and characters...But they honestly aren’t anything special.
Overall, Neo Contra will definitely supply you with some fun if you’re a fan of classic shooting games. However, not so much fun that you won’t feel limited by the controls. Some diehard shooter fans will likely play this game until their fingers bleed in an attempt to master the game...However, most gamers will play it and have some fun, but will be looking for something else to play within an hour or two. Neo Contra isn’t terrible, but it could definitely be better. Unless you’re obsessed with shooting games, this one is better as a rental rather than a game you’d want to add to your collection.
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