Review by B3Agent
Are you a bad enough dude to run on top of a helicopter mid-air?
Neo Contra much like it's previous entries is all about destruction. The gameplay is your standard contra affair but in bird's eye view. Instead of having the weapons laid out throughout the level like the older Contra games, you are able to choose which weapons you want before starting the game. You are initially given three different sets of weapons to choose from and are able to unlock more as you progress through the game. They mostly consist of a rifle type, a fire type, and a missile type. In Neo Contra you aren't given a jump button like the previous games. Instead you're given a dodge button which will make you invincible for a split second while executing it. You are first given 4 stages to choose from but if you play in normal mode you can progress and unlock the remaining three. There are two characters to choose from in Neo Contra. Bill Rizer and the gun-totting Samurai who goes by the name of Jaguar. If you meet certain requirements you can also unlock another character to play as. Much like Shattered Solider, Neo Contra features the Hit Rate performance gauge. The more enemies you kill off in the level the higher your Hit Rate goes until you hit 100 percent. This serves to improve your rank and therefore unlock extras in the game.
Rather than using the 2D side scroller view that Shattered Solider uses Konami decided to go for top-down bird's eye view in Neo Contra. Think "Smash TV" or "Total Carnage" if you will. While this may bring back horrible flashbacks of the PS1 contras it seems to work quite well for Neo Contra. The camera angle has it's quirks sometimes but for the most part it doesn't become a hindrance. While Contra: Shattered Solider took a more dark and gritty approach in it's environment, Neo Contra opts to take the more bright and color approach. Through most of the game the frame rate stays consistent and doesn't let up even during the intense explosions and shots going off apart from the mild slow down here and there. The only issue that's apparent in Neo Contra is that the action can get a little chaotic and can therefore be very hard to tell where you are and what you're doing. The enemies are the same disgusting aliens that have always been in Contra though a little bit more toned down.
The SFX sound like they should and like they would in any contra game but the music...while decent is forgettable. The music is mostly a cross between techno and metal. The voice acting, while not bad isn't necessarily good either. Standard b-movie affair.
The story is quite basic and starts off on the premise that an evil organization by the name of "Neo Contra", lead by Master Contra, is bent on destruction. Once again Bill Rizer is called to take them down with the help of his samurai friend, Jaguar. As you progress into the game you'll find that the developers certainly have a sense of humor. It becomes very much a parody on the famous Metal Gear Solid series. The story becomes almost as over-the-top as the gameplay is. For instance in one of the later levels you'll be fighting on top of what is the blades of a helicopter. It's quite ridiculous and is something that has to be seen rather than explained. It's simply insanity. Overall the story serves as mostly just an intermission between the gameplay but it serves it's purpose well.
Two of the main key issues with Neo Contra is the difficulty and short amount of time it takes to finish the game. Neo Contra's difficulty has been toned down very much from the previous contra games and unfortunately to the point where it's TOO easy. If you know what you're doing you can also finish the game in about half an hour. As far as unlockables go, the game features 3 extra stages in addition to the 4 to select from at the begging and 1 extra character. There is also a theater mode in addition to a music and picture gallery mode. Also depending on your performance you can unlock different endings and more weapon types. One of the main things that'll keep you coming back is the standard 2 player mode. There's nothing like blasting enemy soldiers and aliens with a buddy.
Last Value: 9/10
Rent or Buy?
Due to the fact that Neo Contra is a huge departure from most of it's previous entries in graphics and difficulty you could either love it or hate it. For this reason alone (even especially if you're a fan) I would recommend that you rent this game first.
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