Review by Bkstunt_31

Reviewed: 06/12/08

3D Run-and-Gun Goodness!

Neo Contra proudly carries on Contra’s legacy as the latest PS2 and main console Contra title. It features the same run-and-gun destruction that Contra is known for, though from a top-down 3-D perspective. Here’s what I though about Neo Contra.

Story: 6/10

The story follows Bill Reizer, the hero of the original Contra games and the Alien Wars, as he awakens from cryogenic sleep to once again be called upon to free earth, only this time he is freeing earth from several rogue contra’s who are working together to form a military-led world. He is joined by a samurai known as Jaguar in order to take the contra’s out and find out who is behind them.

The story in Neo Contra is very hard to follow, and really doesn’t take itself too seriously, especially since one of the contra’s you end up fighting turns out to be a dog. Keep in mind, though, that Contra has never really focused on its story as much as its gameplay. Neo Contra is extremely short, as the average gamer could defeat the games initial four missions on easy in less than an hour. Thankfully, there are multiple difficulty settings, and you are ranked on how well you do in any given stage. The last three missions are only available if the player maintains an overall rank of A or higher.

Gameplay: 8/10

The real highlight of the game is the fast-paced frantic run-and-gun gameplay. Like I mentioned earlier, the game is played using an overhead perspective, similar to certain overhead levels from Contra III: The Alien Wars. It also uses the weapon system introduced in Contra: Shattered Soldier, where you have a set of three different weapons to choose from for the entire game. As you destroy enemies, items, and vehicles in the level, your hit rate percentage increases, up to 100 percent. To get to the final missions, you must score a 95 percent or better, but each death and enemy that you don’t kill take away 1 percent. Also, each continue that you use takes away 5 percent.

Contra is usually known for its brutal difficulty, but I found that with a little practice Neo Contra wasn’t that hard at all. Every single enemy attack is avoidable, although some are admittedly harder to dodge than others, meaning that as you practice your skills will improve to the point where the missions become easier and easier. The various levels, while short, are also extremely fun to play through. The game gets even better with a second player, as you each strive to improve your skills.

Graphics: 8/10

Being in 3-D from an overhead perspective, you will of course be looking down on Bill and Jaguar the entire game. Thankfully, this game looks good. The enemy and character designs are excellent, and the animations are all smooth. The backgrounds are all great as well, very detailed and full of enemies. Unfortunately, when there are too many enemies, the game does go through some slow-down, most noticeable in mission number five, though it only lasts for a few seconds and really doesn’t detract from the game too much. Most of the common enemies sprites are repeated, since they are merely cannon fodder, but the real treat in the game is the huge detailed bosses.

Music/Sound Effects: 7/10

The music in Neo Contra is pretty much what you would expect: heavy metal/techno riffs. I actually liked the music though, it wasn’t weird at all and fit into the game nicely, though I would have liked to hear . Your guns will make the most noise though, as you blast your way through the games missions. Thankfully the sound effects sound good, each weapon and enemy has its own distinct sound that sounds appropriate. What I didn’t enjoy was the god-awful voice acting, and while it doesn’t make the game unplayable, once I saw a cut-scene I ALWAYS skipped it from that point onwards.

Re-playability/Extras/Fun Factor: 8/10

Trying to get the true ending in Neo Contra will have you re-playing missions over and over until you get a good enough score, but thankfully every mission is short and sweet, similar to the game itself. There is a bit of unlockable content, including being able to unlock more lives and characters, as well as new weapon sets and training missions. Overall, the game is a fun 2-player co-op run and gun, and while short it is a good way to spend a lazy afternoon with a friend.

Overall: 7/10

Overall, a high 7. I haven’t really followed the Contra series past the SNES, but Neo Contra feels like a good 3-D transition for the classic series. Beware not to spend too much, though, as the game is really short and rather old by now, so you should be able to find it in your local game stores bargain bin for cheap. Have fun and keep playing!

Rating: 7

Product Release: Neo Contra (US, 10/19/04)

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