Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

In this review we will tell you about Contra: Operation Galuga, Konami’s new effort which brings the acclaimed arcade cabinet back into the present

It was 1987, when Konami released a run and gun arcade cabinet that would leave its mark on the history of gaming. It was the year of Contra: title from difficult gameplay, with palpable tension, with an extremely punishing difficulty; at the same time a game capable of establishing itself indelible in the memory of anyone who tried it at the time. Such was the success of Konami’s work that it convinced the publisher to release a version for NES the following year, which was also met with public acclaim.

For this reason, it is natural that the renaissance of the Japanese company, ready to relaunch the Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid sagas, takes place under the aegis of one of their most famous titles. Contra: Operation Galuga, in fact, is a title halfway between reboot and remake of the first chapter released in the 80s. As then, our mission will see us sent to the Galuga archipelago to face a terrible threat to the entire planet. Once again we will take on the role of Bill Rizer e Lance Bean, elite soldiers with superhuman abilities and lethal arsenal. In this review we will analyze the return of such a famous intellectual property and find out if Konami had the audacity necessary to renew the classic.

Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

Meteors and gravitons | Contra review: Operation Galuga

In the distant future the small island of Galuga comes plagued by an inexplicable meteor shower. In the ensuing chaos a military group known as Red Falcon manages to completely take over the atoll and isolates it from the rest of the planet. Upon the failure of the operation, carried out by the ordinary units of the army, to establish a bridgehead near enemy territory, all that remains is to turn to the spearhead of the human race, soldiers with supernatural abilities known as Contra.

Making the situation worse are some suspicious readings that would indicate Galuga as the source of enormous gravitational waves. Only Rizer and Bean can resolve the situation, only they can prevent terrible weapons, capable of altering spacetime, from falling into the wrong hands.

Let’s say it clearly: the narrative in Contra is merely a pretext and this new iteration does not change the custom at all. It is first and foremost relegated to the final parts of the various missions that make up the campaign and is expressed in a handful of dialogues from fluctuating writing. We also found the braggadocious humor, which one would expect from such a title, to be slightly subdued and unable to stand out.

The same acting is rather flat and lacking in impact, therefore unsuitable for underlining some situations which are in themselves interesting. Nonetheless, Contra: Operation Galuga is a pure arcade and in this review we will focus on what is really interesting about it. The fact that it has a faded texture is more the result of deliberate intention than an unforgivable lack, after all the gameplay is king.

Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

A deluge of lead | Contra review: Operation Galuga

And if the crown goes to the gameplay, perhaps the time has come to talk about it in depth. Contra: Operation Galuga is a run and gun scrolling (lateral and vertical) based on notable mobility, quick reflexes and precision in shooting. The title is divided into various levels to be completed by dodging enemy shots and hitboxes, under penalty of losing a segment of health or even an entire life.

Unlike the original title, the developers of WayForward have allowed it to be used both the classic eight-direction pointing system and a more modern 360° pointing system. Furthermore, for those who want greater precision at the expense of movement, it is possible to stop the character on the spot by pressing the right trigger. This is very functional as it allows you to shoot in front of you without moving in the same direction, as both actions are linked to the same input.

Well tested they are too the double jump and the frontal dash in the air or on the ground, which help generate fluid and responsive action. And this is precisely what we intend to focus on, as it turns out one of the greatest advantages of Konami’s production. The levels slide by nicely, they have excellent pace and never tend to slow down the player.

All this contributes to establishing an excellent flow, an incessant progression that forces you to maintain a high attention span and notable coordination to avoid being decimated by enemy projectiles. Rather The various guns are also diversified and interesting available to Rizer and Bean, ranging from powerful flamethrowers to efficient machine guns. We found the feeling of the weapons well implemented and underlined by brilliant sound, furthermore the notable variety of them contributes to increasing the replayability of the title.

Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

Shoot or Die | Contra review: Operation Galuga

Contra is a saga where even the slightest inattention is enough for the situation to escalate and where lifting the index finger from the trigger is equivalent to a death sentence. The Contra arsenal also has a system of upgrades that increase its lethality.

These, however, are as precious as they are fragile as one blow is enough to cause their irreversible loss. Furthermore, using the left trigger, you can sacrifice the weapon via overload to release saving skills or colossal attacks capable of overturning even seemingly desperate situations. The system is therefore more complex than it may appear and requires intelligent and above all rapid micromanagement of their possibilities.

Much more banal (we will soon see it in detail) but equally fluid and fun are the platforming phases facilitated by the integration of the dash and grappling hook, the latter only available for some characters. We found, however, the management of the holds is slightly less precise which tend to escape despite walking over them. However, the variations on the theme, caused by the choice of the hero with whom to undertake a level, are very welcome.

Some sacrifice mobility for firepower and modify weapon projectiles, while others are more similar to our protagonists in the movement but present some intriguing characteristics on the side of the guns. In the end, an accurate and well-refined gameplay structure is revealed which, despite slight shortcomings and very little audacity, appears rocky and difficult to criticize.

Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

Galuga Trails | Contra review: Operation Galuga

So the time comes sore points, comes when we find ourselves talking about the level design and the placement of enemies, decidedly subdued compared to the rest of the production. The evidence shows, in fact, that WayForward did not have enough courage to innovate a historical saga. Contra: Operation Galuga is a title from prehistoric design, with sparse and insufficient findings that are not enough to save it. But let’s proceed step by step in the analysis of the work of the Californian developer.

The title boasts a placement on the various platforms excessively scholastic and basic which follows the classics of the past in an almost slavish manner. They are even more outdated and I dare say predictable the traps, which neither boast any originality nor introduce interesting dynamics. Generally each mission is based on two levelsone congruent with the ground and the other raised.

Switching from first to second would help prevent enemies from gaining the upper hand, however, the simplicity of this system is ill-suited to the number of times it is reiterated. The moving levels could claim the title from the repetitiveness, but they too wedge themselves into structures that are already too well-established and fail to add panache. There are, to be honest, a couple of interesting ideas that remain timid attempts to modify the formula, unfortunately never properly explored.

Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

The armies of the Red Falcon | Contra review: Operation Galuga

It doesn’t shine at all, not even the placement of the enemies, which is also excessively so bookish and now outdated. Although the variety is decent and the campaign is actually quite short, we didn’t feel like it glimpse truly impactful solutions nor have we noticed transcendental ideas. They stand out in creatures that shoot from a distance and beings that march towards you.

The functioning of this dichotomy is perfectly established: the opponents force a constant and methodical movement, however, at the same time, it is devoid of any gimmick that profoundly renews the action. Here too there is some flash, but the result remains pale and in shadowagain due to lack of audacity.

Unfortunately, not even the bossfights are free from criticism. These are profoundly variable in terms of quality and mortified, sometimes, by the same problems that afflict the rest of the game. In them you will find exactly the same patterns that you might have expected in a game from thirty years ago.

Nonetheless, they remain extremely fun battles, as is the entire gaming experience, difficult but readable battles (except in some cases) and capable of rewarding the player. Because, after all, the structure of Konami’s work is perfectly suited to great replayability, which allows you to reveal every secret and master the experience. Precisely for this reason it is sad that there were no design innovations, which would have modernized the formula and contributed to fueling a compulsive replay of the levels.

Contra Review: Operation Galuga, born for war

The war never ends | Contra review: Operation Galuga

Although the story mode does not stand out for longevity, as befits an arcade, Konami has put together a vast content package for the players. In addition to the narrative there is the arcade modewhere the player will undertake the various levels in a row trying not to die.

This is designed for long-time enthusiasts, those who repudiate the greater accessibility included in the game. It becomes explicit both in the form of checkpoints and thanks to three difficulty modes which greatly simplify the experience for newbies. The title is less punitive than in the past and therefore more capable of inserting real progression within itself.

In fact, there is a shop where they are sold power-ups and extra lives which allow you to obtain salvation if you get stuck in an excessively difficult level. Inside, at far too high priceswhich require several hours of play, can also be obtained old soundtracks of Konami’s glorious epic as well as extra characters. A very valid addition, however, is that of challenges.

These are variations on the theme that occur within the campaign levels. They require, for example, to Defeating bosses again without ever getting hit, replaying parts of the game with limited bullets, or clearing entire levels without taking damage. The inclusion of this mode is very clever, as it allows you to increase the longevity of the title by recycling its parts and making it…