Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s worth scrolling down and taking a look at the alternative cover art for Contra Rogue Corps.
Vibrant, colourful and full of character, this stunning piece of artwork captures the essence of what makes Contra such a beloved series.
It’s a busy, chaotic and explosive scene that’s constantly drawing your eyes from one point to the next – kind of like a good Contra level or boss fight.
Unfortunately, the action depicted on the reversible cover sleeve isn’t representative of what is an oftentimes dull, bland and frustrating experience.
Good ideas – and there are some of those – are buried beneath poorly executed basics, which is likely to turn new players away pretty quickly.
A surprise announcement at this year’s E3 gaming expo, Contra Rogue Corps is a top down, twin stick shooter that takes place after SNES classic The Alien Wars.
While Contra has done the whole top-down thing before – like the underrated Neo Contra on the PS2 – the series is most famous for delivering unforgiving and unrelenting side-scrolling run and gun action.
The recently released Contra Anniversary Collection contains some of the best examples of this, including peak Contra games like Hard Corps, Super C and the aforementioned Alien Wars.
Indeed, Rogue Corps could be as much a victim of bad timing as anything else, with Contra Anniversary Collection and Blazing Chrome reminding us how great the series used to be.
The problem with Rogue Corps is that it gets things wrong at a really basic level. The movement is slow, the aiming is just a bit off (although this can be offset by messing about in the settings) and the environments are really dull.
If you look at some of the enemy design and concept art, Rogue Corps has a lot of really unique and grotesque enemies. Unfortunately, you can’t really make them out due to a combination of poor camera work and low quality visuals.
Some of the missions are too long, the stages are repetitive and the same goes for overused enemies.
But perhaps the worst part of all is the frustrating weapon cooldown feature, which feels completely at odds with the core Contra experience.
Some of the game’s more irritating issues feel like they can be fixed in future updates, but it’s unlikely many fans will stick around to see that happen.
In Rogue Corps’ defence, not everything Konami attempts is a complete disaster.
There’s an incredibly deep weapon customisation and upgrade system that definitely goes some way towards offsetting some of the game’s problems.
There are lots and lots of weapon modifications to unlock, so even if you don’t particularly like your initial loadout (I hated the weedy laser, for example), chances are you’ll find something much better before long.
Once you find the weapon loadout that’s right for you and improve your cooldown rate, Contra Rogue Corps starts to provide a little more in the way of fun, particularly if you play in short bursts.
You can also swap out body parts by collecting loot and visiting different surgeons – both paid and free.
The free surgeon will perform the body modification adequately enough, but paying for one of the other surgeons increases your chances of receiving bonus perks.
The game also features co-op play – which is always a larf – not to mention a Rocket League inspired multiplayer mode, which despite sounding interesting, hasn’t really taken off.
Indeed, Contra Rogue Corps definitely has some good ideas, if only it wasn’t let down by some fundamental and rather glaring flaws.