Review by dwellerofrhymes
Behold the Power of Cheese
Shattered Soldier being one of my favorite games of all time, I was wondering if this game could come close, but honestly never thought it would. Well, Neo Contra did turn out better than I expected, and while Neo Contra is surely not perfect, I am honestly satisfied with it.
Neo Contra marks a controversial return to 3-D for the Contra series, as the previous two 3-D Contras were apparent disasters. Also, after Shattered Soldier, many Contra fans were reaffirmed in their belief of "2-D Contra, or no Contra at all". Despite these concerns, however, Neo Contra does for the most part smoothly translate what's fun about the 2-D Contra world to 3-D. Blasting aliens and robots with a variety of nice-looking, mostly functional weapons, crazy stunts, and other things that just make you want to yell out "Take that, Communism!" are all present in Neo Contra.
Bosses in Neo Contra are as weird and zany as ever. What's cooler than a barfing baby with superfluous eyeballs? Well, if I told you, it might just ruin the game for you. Rest assured, however, that the bosses in this game are as over-the-top as any. The level design is pretty good, though many of the transitions are weird at first.
The reason I described the weapons as "mostly functional" is because it becomes quickly obvious that some weapon sets (you are given a choice of a set of three to six sets of three weapons each when you start a new game) are by far much more powerful than the alternatives. (In Shattered Solider, though there was much less weaponry, almost every attack was particularly useful.) There is also the easily unlockable Katana Jaguar character which replaces one weapon in each set with a katana or flame katana, which should appeal to those who like the challenge of attempting close-quarters combat in a Contra game (I know I do) while effectively creating some more weapon sets.
Crazy stunts are everywhere in this game. Getting shot out of a volcano, being delivered to mission site by an explosive missile, and running around on a rotating helicopter blade are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how cheesy this game gets. I admit that at times this game is probably too cheesy for its own good, especially during the cutscenes which are often goofier than they are able to get you pumped up to kill more stuff, but for the most part, the humorous intentions of the developers are rather well expressed and add some flair to the game.
Neo Contra keeps up the frantic pace of past Contras. Stop paying attention for a second, and you're dead. However, it is relatively easy for a Contra game. For one, it is far too generous with credits and lives. It still does provide decent challenge the first time through and for those trying to earn an S rank, even though that was made easier than it was in Shattered Soldier, as now only 98% can get you an S rank. If the game had been as hard as Shattered Soldier, I may be giving it a 10. Easier-going gamers may appreciate this, though. And obviously, the most Contra-crazy gamer will find a way to make the game hard for themselves (how about going for 100% with the katana without using any credits?).
On a sad note, I must say that there are too many forgettable songs in Neo Contra. However, the music isn't so bad that I can't stand it. Music not being that important to a game like this, I can't really take anything away from this game for that. The graphics are the best yet in a Contra game quite easily, but that has had no effect on my score, either. One minor gripe I have with the game is that the camera is zoomed out too far at times for a small screen, but it's just one of those things I got used to. There was slowdown in one part in two-player mode, as well, which was kind of annoying.
To remove Neo Contra from the shadow of Shattered Soldier is difficult, I must admit. Shattered Soldier was well-refined and based on a tried-and-true formula. Neo Contra, by many, was seen as an unnecessary and dangerous experiment in 3-D. While the return to 3-D for Contra certainly isn't perfect, it wasn't a failure. Neo Contra is a good prototype for a future 3-D Contra formula, but when it comes down to it, I would have to say that I still prefer 2-D Contra. I'm still glad I bought this game, though.
I hope you found this review helpful even if you don't agree with the score. Thanks for reading.
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