Konami’s "Contra Adventure" is clearly a big disappointment in the Contra series. This game should have been taken back to the drawing board for some serious rework. For those hardcore Contra fanatics who were anxiously awaiting this new sequel, put your gear up, unlace your boots, clean out your weapons, stash your ammo and hope for a better sequel next year.
This year’s storyline basically goes like this: You must save the planet from Red Falcon and its alien brood by infiltrating the ancient Mayan Temple and putting a stop to the activity going on there. Your government feels the temple could be a possible drop point for an all out planetary invasion. Given your military records and outstanding skills and services, you were selected as the best man for this operation. You’ll be equipped with the most advanced arsenal of weapons to aid you in your mission. Believe me, you’ll need them.
Graphics in this year’s version aren’t the greatest, but they’re not half-bad either. Using two-dimensional characters in a side-scrolling 3D environment makes the game look kind of cool. However, it would have been even better if both the characters and the environments were a bit more polished and detailed. Constant explosions, advancing foot-soldiers, perched snipers, and hovering air machines make for an intense military setting. Wild weapon’s fire lights up the screen nicely and compliments the background well.
Sound effects tend to win over background music in this year’s version. There are certain stages where the music is pretty good and then there are other stages where you’re glad that explosions and weapon’s fire help blot out weak tunes. On the good side though, Contra sounds fairly good in stereo.
Weapons and power-ups will keep you alive a little longer during battle. You’ll have over nine weapons to choose from including a machine gun, laser, flame thrower, spread weapon, shatter gun, crush weapon, grenade, three rockets and a super bomb. Player’s can carry up to four different weapons at a time. Sometimes it’s good to carry two of the same weapon that does the most damage to the stage boss. That way you’ll have one for backup. Otherwise, you should save your main weapon until the end and then rather than using it right away, weaken the boss with other weapons and then finish them off with your "big gun." Use Health, invulnerability, and one-up bonuses to help you through those extra tough spots.
Gameplay is the biggest and most crucial problem with "The Contra Adventure". The difficulty of the game is much too extreme, even if you’re a long time veteran of the series. Let’s face it, it’s down right frustrating and sometimes merciless. You’d swear the first level of the game was the last level of the game. I died over 30 times trying to complete it.
Enemy fire is relentless and having multiple mini-bosses before the main stage boss eats up your health in no time. While the weapons look great, the damage they do is pathetic. Nothing ticks me off more than unloading over a hundred rounds of "spread gun" fire into a boss and finding out you’ve only depleted half its energy. The flame thrower is the most powerful weapon in the game, but it requires you to use it at close range, making you a vulnerable target.
Oh, by the way Konami, where’s our 2 player co-op mode?!"
Overall, the gameplay factor puts a huge damper on this title. However, it can be slightly remedied using "cheat codes." Look for codes like "extra men" or "unlimited weapons" etc.
Hopefully Konami is working on a knockout sequel for next year to make up for this year’s otherwise disappointing title. I give this game a below average 2 Â½ out of 5 GIN Gems.