Contra Hard Corps (Sega Genesis) Retro Review

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Can Contra Hard Corps overtake Contra 3: The Alien wars for the best 16 bit Contra game?

In 1988, Contra was released on the NES. It was one of those occasions where a home console release was actually better than the arcade version. Konami was a serious contender for publishing games on a home console. Contra is an all time classic and has been ported many times after its initial publish date.

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Contra 3 The Alien Wars was released on the super Nintendo in 1992 as a sequel to the NES counterparts.

Being a killer app on Nintendo’s new console, it delivered on fantastic graphics, larger sprites and a unique approach to Nintendo’s new mode 7 graphics. Another true classic for years to come.

Fast forward a couple of years, in 1994 when Konami had yet another release up their sleeves on a 16 bit console with Contra Hard Corps on the Sega Genesis.

I was first confused by the title of the genesis release and always called it Contra Hard Corps rather than Contra Hard Core, now that that’s out of the way we’ll stick to Contra Hard Core for pronunciation.

In today's review, well be taking an in depth look at this legendary Sega Genesis game. I hope you guys enjoy my review of Contra Hard Corps.

The gameplay stays in line with the contra series, you have adrenaline-fueled action-packed gameplay, that drops you into a stage and forces you to keep moving as you progress through each stage.

You get to pick between your choice of four different characters,

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Ray - the blond haired blue eyed male solder. This is the character that is reminiscent in the past contra games.

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Sheena – A female soldier who is skilled in guerrilla tactics.

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Brad Fang

Brad Fang - A wolf like humanoid who wears shades. This guy has a chain gun for an arm. This one blows my mind because I haven’t seen anything like this before in a contra game.

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And finally Browny, a small sized combat robot. Who has the ability to double jump and slowly land back down.

Don’t let the cosmetic differences fool you, each of these characters has a different set of weapons,  giving you a variety to pick from as you get more seasoned with the gameplay.

This really improves the replay value as most run and gun shooters feature palette swaps with no other distinguishable differences between characters.

In addition to the different weapon choices you can choose from, you also are rewarded with grenades that can be carried and used to blow up multiple enemies on the screen.

Contra Hard Corps allows you to jump and grab onto walls and ceilings. This makes for a really cool experience during some of the boss battles.

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You can slide to avoid tricky situations. This can also be used to move faster than you normally would when walking. Sliding is also useful as an attack on an enemy. You have to really time this correctly or you’ll end up taking a death.

Contra Hard Corps adds to two modes of shooting,

Mode 1 which allows you to move while shooting. This is the style of gameplay you are most likely exposed to if you’ve played any of the other Contra games prior.

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Mode 2 allows you to lock your character into place in order to pinpoint an area to shoot from. This is very useful during boss battles where you have to expose a safe spot to shoot from to get in those extra hits.

Speaking of boss battles, you’ll be going through a lot of trial and error. You’ll essentially have to replay the boss battles over and over again to master the patterns of each boss encounter.

This is rather unfortunate as the difficulty in the north American release only has five continues. You’ll end up replaying the same levels over and over again to finally progress in the game.

The Japanese version made the gameplay a bit easier by introducing a health system. You’ll have three hit points before a death rather than in the north American version where it’s a one hit death system. They’ve also allowed for unlimited continues in the Japanese release.

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Contra Hard Corps has a storyline that allows you to choose your own path. At certain points in the game, you can choose how to proceed. This will lead to different endings depending on the path that you’ve chosen. A new gameplay mechanic that has not been introduced into the contra series up until this point.

Contra always had great graphics with lots of characters on the screen.

Contra Hard Corps uses the processing power of the genesis to perfections with multi enemy stacked bosses, cool effects that change angles, backgrounds that have great parallax scrolling to them or enemies that move into the foreground.

I didn’t notice any slowdown that other consoles are accustomed to having. This is all thanks to the blast processing you grew to love.

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The audio department has a few memorable tracks and the ones that are great have that genesis grit to them. Some of the others just felt a bit too generic for me.

There are also secrets that can be found like in stage three just before breaking the first door, the player can actually climb up the wall and find a mysterious character. One of the bosses actually turns out the be one that resembles Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series. This is definitely a nice addition and a node to Konami’s other classic franchise.

I like that there are a good variety of stages that are unlocked based on the branch that you take.

With 13 overall stages, compared to Contra 3 The Alien Wars on the Super Nintendo that has only six. Growing up as a Nintendo kid, I wished I had Contra Hard Corps over Contra 3: The Alien Wars on my console of choice.

Sega Mega Drive owners definitely got a different experience. It uses the same gameplay experience but gave you all the extras. Contra Hard Corps delivers on a great run and gun shooter that has great graphics and a big difficulty curve. With many playable characters and branching storyline, Contra Hard Corps will keep you busy for quite some time.