As I sit here starting to write this review I can still remember the amazing days of playing the original Contra game for the NES. The days where I would spend hours upon hours going through the game, trying to defeat all of its challenging missions. It’s hard to think it was over ten years ago the game was released, but to tell you how good this game is, I still enjoy it to this day. Now Konami is once again attempting to resurrect its Contra series with its latest Neo Contra for the PlayStation 2! Is this the game to put Contra back on the map? Read our review to find out!
As of late it seems that Konami has been heavily emphasizing bringing back series that had done well for them in the past, like Gradius and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are all old classics that have been brought onto the next generation consoles, all attempting to recapture there past glory. The unfortunate thing for Konami is, that none of these games have been overly successful; in fact the games have been quite disappointing. Now Neo Contra really one of the last games of this trend for a while has now been released, but unfortunately it doesn’t fair much better.
For those of you die hard Contra fans you already know of the poor showing of the last showing Contra had on the PS2 in Contra: Shattered Soldier. This was not a bad game, but in my eyes it just didn’t use the great "run and gun" action formula as well as it could have. Instead we were left with a game that had you memorizing each and every level, with pretty limited gameplay. Now Neo Contra has come out trying to erase those problems that were found in the last one and put some new improvements to the series.
In Neo Contra they have gone back to the more classic style of gameplay with an overhead perspective, something we haven’t seen from the Contra series since the amazing Contra III. The game opens up with you being able to choose from four different stages, which can be completed in any order. Once you complete the four stages you will then be off to play in the "final stage".
Where Shattered Solider had problems trying to make the game interesting, Neo Contra leaves those problems in the dark. Now you can see the game is coming back to its roots trying to do anything in its power to take its series back to the glorious days. The gameplay of Neo Contra has been improved a whole lot, with plenty of different weapons, and plenty of different types of enemies to take out. Not only can you play the game with one player, but you can also team up with a buddy (true classic Contra), and play the game cooperatively as well. This feature although seen in Shattered Soldier is a great one to have, as it really adds a whole new element to the game that really is just an amazing experience, one that really takes you back to the good old days.
But unfortunately the game is not without its shortcomings. Neo Contra differs from Shattered Soldier in the fact that it is way too easy and short. I don’t know about all of you, but when I purchase a game, I want it to last a lot longer then a few hours, but this is something Neo Contra does not deliver. You can see when Konami attempted to fix the problems that were found in Shattered Solider, they decreased the difficulty of the game dramatically, improved the gameplay quite a bit, but in the end made the game much too short.
Overall the gameplay of Neo Contra has been improved in some very impressive ways, but sadly we don’t get a long enough experience to really enjoy the game fully. I can tell you right now, you will be shocked and disappointed right when the game ends, as it just sneaks right up on you. So the bottom line of the gameplay it is quite solid, but also quite short.
The one thing about Shattered Solider I personally liked was the graphics, as they really resembled in my eyes the old Contra games style on the next generation consoles; something I thought was quite impressive. So how does Neo Contra end up panning out?
Neo Contra is a game in which its visuals are truly a mixed bag of good and bad. The good is in the overall viewpoint of the game, which is very classic, and the character models. Konami in my eyes once again did an impressive job of creating a game that looks good but doesn’t shy away from its roots. The biggest problem I had with the game’s visuals was the occasional slowdown that did have some unfortunate interruptions in the gameplay department. This is always something that should have been dealt with in the stages of development, which makes this kind of a disappointing feature.
Overall Neo Contra is a game that I think looks quite impressive, but due to some slowdown doesn’t end up as well as it could.
What is funny about Neo Contra is the fact that the game starts out to be so enjoyable and so much fun, but right when that happens, the game ends. I am not joking when I said this game is short, because it can honestly only take even the worst of gamers a few hours. It took me the first time around about an hour to complete. Although the game is fun for the hour of gameplay, there just isn’t enough to hold you over, or make you feel satisfied.
Neo Contra is a game that really has the makings of a good game but doesn’t stick around long enough to successfully show it off. Unless you are a diehard Contra fan, this is a title that can really be left as a rental.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.