Tuesday 11 August 2015

Contra Force (NES review)

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Released: 1992

Contra Force is a run 'n' gun game that started development as Arc Hound with no ties to the Contra series.

You control four characters with unique abilities (i.e. higher jumps, stronger weapons) and you can switch between them on the fly. Collecting briefcases moves up a special meter in the bottom-left; this houses power-ups such as Flame Throwers and Hand Grenades and you simply press Select to activate it when it reaches your desired weapon. A CPU partner can also be called in to provide covering fire for a short time. The first level is a side-scroller but the action is much slower than a normal Contra game. The controls and level design are good though with lots of unique areas to keep things interesting. The second level changes to a top-down perspective similar to Super C (1990, NES). It plays well enough and has some destructible scenery but doesn't have any memorable moments. The third level is another side-scroller and it has some annoying platforming sections where you need to use lifts and swing across ropes. The boss is fun though as you need to destroy a huge aeroplane piece-by-piece. The fourth level is back to a top-down view where you walk across moving planes! The scrolling is slow and many times you'll need to walk backwards to let it catch up so you aren't blind-sided by an enemy. The final level sees you chasing the main boss around and it mixes in some decent horizontal and vertical platforming sections. My main issues with the game are that it's very laggy and each level is repetitive in its design. Despite its flaws though many parts are just mindless fun and the character select and power-up options encourage you to experiment which increases replayability.

Contra Force is a mediocre run 'n' gun game but it's nowhere near as bad as some people would make you believe. It has some really interesting ideas but the spotty level design and severe slowdown prevent it from reaching its true potential.

Random trivia: Screenshots of the original game (Arc Hound) were shown in promotional art in 1991. You can view them here.

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