Title  : C: The Contra Adventure
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation
Publisher  : Konami
Game Rating  : 7.4
Review by  : Ken Gagne

There used to be companies whose every game was golden, and series in which every entry was a success. Such past examples are today falling apart, as is proven by C: The Contra Adventure, a Sony PlayStation game from Konami. 

Contra began as a side-scrolling shooter for the Nintendo, and has since appeared on the Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and Super Nintendo. When it came time for players to save the world from alien infestation on the Sony PlayStation, Konami handed development of the series to the Appaloosa team, which produced the dreadful 3D Contra: Legacy of War. 

Players clamored for a return to the old days of 2D action. From the first level of The Contra Adventure, it looks like gamers got what they asked for. 

Unfortunately, this is a deception to drag players in, before Appaloosa stubbornly resume mangling the series in subsequent levels. 

Although the first level is reminiscent of gaming days of yore, others are played from today's popular 3D over-the-shoulder perspective. A mix of other perspectives comprise the other stages, including two overhead and two side-scrolling. Because of these camera angles, there is no two-player mode. At all. (can it still be Contra?) 

The graphics are bland. The sprites, or moving characters, are small; the textures, pixelated; the weapon icons; indecipherable until acquired. Most enemies are foot soldiers or machines, with actual aliens reserved for boss encounters. 

The music repetitively sits in the background, adding little to the experience. Even the occasional remixed theme from earlier Contras sound better in the originals. Some incoherent digitized speech pops up randomly during battle. Sound effects are plentiful and realistic. 

The control is simple and without error. Jump and shoot are the main functions, followed by strafing and switching among four weapons. Analog support is included, but rarely needed. 

The latest Contra adventures offers some new challenges while alleviating the old. Gamers need not start every gaming session from scratch: progression through the levels can be saved to a memory card, including the lives and continues remaining. 

One hit no longer terminates a player's life, either: a health meter can take damage and be restored without depleting the number of lives. Four weapons can be carried instead of just one or two. 

Enemies attack in force with firepower that's hard to ignore. Some bosses are easily defeated (especially with the right weaponry — some guns pack too much a wallop) while others require several attempts. 

But overall, there is nothing spectacular about this Adventure. The gameplay is unimaginative, unexciting, and solitary, completely the opposite of the principles upon which the Contra legacy was founded. As has been the case for several years, gamers looking for a classic Contra experience should turn to their Super NES.


This article is copyright (c) 1998, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 12-Oct-98