Tag Archives: contra

Late to the Party: Contra Hard Corps


I played the Nintendo Entertainment System version of the first Contra game, Super C, and Contra III: The Alien Wars for the Super NES growing up, but had actually never heard of the Sega Genesis Contra Hard Corps – which many apparently called the best Contra game, until many years later. I’m only just now learning the myriad reasons it’s so revered that involve what it does for the Contra formula as well as the circumstances surrounding its release.

Playing the game now, I’m astonished at how much it added to the series’ gameplay after Alien Wars. I think it’s officially known as a side game or a sub-series (it got a direct sequel on the PS3 and Xbox 360) but I honestly still think it’s close enough to its forbears to more or less be the “Contra IV” before WayForward made Contra 4 on the original Nintendo DS. Continue reading

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Late to the Party: Gunstar Heroes (And 8BitDo’s M30 Controller)


I’ve been kind of on a run n’ gun game trip since trying out the Metal Slug series, and I thought I’d give Gunstar Heroes another shot as an excuse to try out 8BitDo’s new M30 bluetooth Genesis/Mega Drive controller.

I’d never heard of this apparently seminal 1993 shooter until probably over a decade after it came out. The first time I bought it was on Wii Virtual Console, but I ran into a brick wall at the game’s infamous “Seven Force” boss. Later I bought the PC version of the Sega Genesis Classics collection, copied the ROM out of the game files, and played it on the BlastEm emulator through RetroArch (supposedly the most accurate Genesis emulator yet made). Only just recently did I finally manage to clear the game, finding it to be a really intense but also really unique take on the genre, that likely inspired a lot of what came after it. Continue reading

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A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda

One of the games that’ll be on sale on Steam until Monday is A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda. I think an enhanced version also just got released on Xbox Live. I’d basically never heard of it until the sale, and after trying the demo I wanted to get it out in the open a little bit.

Basically, this game attempts to be the love child of Mega Man and Contra. The demo feels a bit more the latter than the former, but nonetheless it looks like a completely solid sidescrolling shooter.

Even the presentation evokes Super NES games but with today’s graphics, or at least GBA games but at a higher resolution. The opening explanation of the story plays out by scrolling across still images while subtitles fill in for dialogue. It all works the same way the cut scenes in Mega Man X might, and is basically just as effective. The music hits the same spot too.

From there, you immediately end up in corridors jumping over and shooting at robots in six directions. It’s pretty tough for me to think of another indie game that captures the spirit of the aforementioned shooters this well.

The demo only covers the beginning of the game so I didn’t get the see much evidence of the kind of platforming you might find in classic Mega Man, but the bosses are pretty much Contra bosses. They’re massive, and beating them depends on rote pattern memorization while never letting go of the trigger. Though because you don’t die instantly they’re a lot more forgiving here.

A.R.E.S.’s own mechanics come into play when you collect scrap from defeated enemies to build pretty much everything, from health items to new weapons. The dynamic is a pretty smart one if you ask me: if you don’t take as much damage you won’t have to waste scrap healing yourself that you’d otherwise spend on new weapons. Though, enemies seem to respawn so it probably is possible to grind for scrap. There are also some unique tools and abilities you get throughout the game.

After trying it out I went ahead and bought A.R.E.S. on Steam and hope to eventually get to it. When asking around for more handheld 2D action games like the classics in a previous post someone actually suggested me A.R.E.S. It may not be handheld, but it seems to otherwise fit the bill.


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