Review – Contra Anniversary Collection

After Castlevania and Metal Gear, the Contra series is by far the most famous franchise ever created by Konami. Its simple premise, easy controls, and stupidly intense difficulty captivated players around the world and popularize the now eternal Konami Code, which would grant the player with way more lives than the ridiculously small amount you’d actually start with. Konami decided to bring Contra back with a bang this year. Not only did they announce Contra: Rogue Corps at E3 2019, but they also decided to release one heck of a compilation for all major consoles, just like how they did with Castlevania and their most famous arcade shooters. The Contra collection ended up being the best of those three, without a doubt.

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The original is still ridiculously hard, but damn if it isn’t fun.

The Contra Anniversary Collection features the following games: the original Contra and Super Contra arcade games, both the Japanese and North American versions of the NES Contra, Super C, the fantastic SNES title Contra III: The Alien Wars, Operation C, Contra Hard Cops, as well as the PAL versions of both Operation C and Contra III, weirdly named Probotector, and Super Probotector Alien Rebels, respectively.

You may be thinking that adding regional variants of these games sounds like a lazy attempt at adding filler to the collection, but in the case of Contra, it actually makes sense, as the Famicom title is a lot easier than the NES version, and the Probotector games feature completely different visual assets, with a much more robot-oriented art style. I do think that Konami and M2 should have added a few more titles, such as the Game Boy version of Alien Wars, as well as the WiiWare exclusive Contra ReBirth, but the overall library is pretty good.

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I was expecting the Game Boy Contra to be as underwhelming as the Castlevania ones. Boy was I wrong.

The compilation has been developed with the same care and extra content featured in the other Konami collections. That means high-fidelity emulation, save states, co-op gameplay, the lack of a button remapping feature, and a bonus book. You can also choose between a handful of screen sizes, filters, and screen effects, that is if you really want to make your games look as bad as they used to look in your CRT screen.

When I say that the collection features high-fidelity emulation, I really mean that the games play exactly as they used to many years ago. The overall controls are obviously excellent, and the gameplay is so ridiculously simple that pretty much anyone can play the games (but very few will actually beat them), however the games feature the same visual hindrances from their original releases, with the NES Contras suffering from flickering and Alien Wars suffering from major framerate drops whenever there’s too much action onscreen. If you have ever played Alien Wars, you’ll know that there’s always too much action onscreen.

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Contra III will never not be awesome.

Thanks to the inclusion of save states and the addition of some easier Japanese iterations, this collection is the best way to play all classic Contra games without the necessity of buying older consoles and a CRT television. Those games might still be hard as heck, but they are incredibly enjoyable and addictive. Contra Anniversary Collection is the perfect collection for those who just want to cover alien corpses with nice coat of hot lead. Just make sure you know that one little code.

 

Graphics: 6.5

Clean and crisp recreations of the original games’ graphics, with the inclusion of their original slowdowns and occasional framerate hiccups.

Gameplay: 9.0

The Contra games are known for featuring simple and responsive controls. They are only hindered by occasional framerate dips.

Sound: 8.0

The same soundtrack as before. Some of them are much better than others. The NES version of Contra is the obvious highlight, while Hard Cops is the least impressive of them all.

Fun Factor: 8.0

Contra games are very easy to learn, but incredibly difficult to master. This collection features tons of entertaining titles, with not a single dud in the mix. The inclusion of local co-op is also very welcome.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Contra Anniversary Collection is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PS4.

A copy of Contra Anniversary Collection was provided by the publisher.

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