- Game: Contra: Rogue Corps
- Consoles: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
- Developer: Toylogic
A Contra: Rouge Corps review code was provided by the publisher.
Konami’s fall from grace is legendary. Years of odd decision making (canceling Silent Hills and getting rid of Metal Gear’s genius designer Hideo Kojima) and subpar game releases (Metal Gear Survive, Lucha Libre AAA: Héroes del Ring, Super Bomberman R, etc.) have done the Japanese gaming publisher no favors. Their recent line of classic franchise compilations for Castlevania and Contra is a mild step in the right direction, however.
And their famed soccer simulation titles and Yu-Gi-Oh! console games have kept their quality intact. When Contra: Rogue Corps popped up during Nintendo’s E3 2019 Direct live stream, however, the slight increase in fan goodwill towards Konami quickly faded away. The shoddy graphical presentation and dated feel of the newest Contra game did little to excite longtime fans of the run ‘n gun franchise. After spending some time with the final product, those fans have every right to fear such an unwanted abomination.
Contra: Rogue Corps continues on from the events of Contra III: The Alien Wars with a simple premise – the clash with extraterrestrial beings has come to an end, but a new threat has arisen in the form of the “Damned City.” Only a chosen few can inhabit this new location without going mad – those individuals just so happen to be badass mercenaries who ply their trade by recovering alien tech from the Damned City and taking on other assigned tasks. You take control of one of four bounty hunters/treasure-seekers who fit the role of Contra’s outlandish heroes perfectly. The story is told through decently animated stills, but are hampered by juvenile humor that feels like it belongs in a past generation of gaming.
The same can be said about the game’s ugly visuals. Contra: Rogue Corps’ dated feel is immediately noticeable thanks to the PS2-era quality graphics – everything from the main characters to the color-swapped enemies you constantly come across looks hideous in motion. Even when you’re confronted by a screen-filling boss, you’ll still find yourself critiquing the game’s graphical presentation since it’s even incapable of making a boss fight look halfway decent. As far as the audio delivery is concerned, Contra: Rogue Corps commits a sin that will piss off series fans even further – there’s no decent heavy metal music to speak of! You’ll barely hear the background tunes since they’re practically non-existent, anyways.
This Contra sequel sticks to the top-down isometric view seen in Neo Contra and adopts a twin-stick shooter gameplay approach. If this shooter were kept in the oven just a little bit longer, perhaps this mashup of gameplay styles could have worked. But it’s clear that a rushed development schedule resulted in this shooter being formulaic, uncooperative and just a complete bore to slog through. Enemy types and bosses are recycled ad nauseam, the camera layout makes platforming more difficult than it should be, and the firefights don’t have enough oomph to them to make you really feel like you’re doing big damage. Even though your character has access to various weapon types, a signature special ability, and a massive bomb maneuver, they don’t do enough to keep you enthralled due to the tired stage/enemy layout formula this shooter adheres to.
At times, Contra: Rogue Corps shows a slight glimmer of hope. The game’s weapon development and body parts equipment systems work well enough – playing around with a host of firearms and melee weapons, upgrading your treasure hunters with newly attached body parts and testing out your new skills out on the field are slightly entertaining. But even these systems are brought down a notch since some of the weapons are practically unusable during certain stage encounters. Investing in a powerful shotgun or flamethrower feels like a waste since it won’t do a lick of damage once the camera switches to the game’s shooting gallery mode. The multiplayer presents mild thrills here and there, but you and your couch co-op/online friends will quickly grow tired of the game’s many faults that kill its fun factor in record timing.
Contra: Rouge Corps Takeaways
Konami continues to dig itself deeper into a hole of irrelevance with trainwrecks like Contra: Rogue Corps. The first few missions point to a solid shooter that you hope will improve over time. But those hopes are quickly dashed away thanks to recycled enemies, boring stage layouts, bullet sponge bosses with predictable attack patterns and unimpactful gunplay. A current-gen rendition of Contra with top-down, twin-stick shooter mechanics sounds like a great idea. But Contra: Rouge Corps’ shoddy execution proves that a project such as this one is better left in more capable hands.
Our Contra: Rouge Corps Review Score: 4 out of 10