Thursday, 17 April 2014

Contra Hard Corps (Probotector)



Get ready, it's going to be a bumpy ride of explosions
The Probotector and Contra series has been an odd one as a victim of censorship over the years. Contra, being simply 2 guys running and gunning their way through bigger and bigger levels, against bigger and bigger bosses and so on. While Probotector doesn't like the idea of humans and humans killing each other (especially in Germany) so Probotector is basically Contra but you've got robots instead of humans doing most of the killing against other robots and aliens.

Some of the bosses make sense. This is not one of them.
Contra Hard Corps (Probotector on Megadrive) follows the same routine as before but with far more bosses and monsters in the games. Becoming what is in essence, a Boss Fest of a game. The difference between this and other types of running and gunning is that normally you'd get someone running along and fighting a boss at the end of the level. In this game you'll fight multiple bosses on the way through each level and usually the last boss of a LEVEL is often multiple staged and sometimes multiple stages within a stage.

Contra Hard Corps, certainly takes the latter approach in almost every single level, and it's crazy.

Another boss, often killed before it can do anything creative. Turns it out it makes a cup of tea.
It gets to a point where you realise that the standard level and enemies are so insignificant that eventually you'll barely remember they're even there. Shown further by the fact there's so many throwaway enemies in the game. Fight once and never seen again, when most games like to recycle things at least once to validate their existence.

One of the last bosses, a giant mutant head with a another that cries blood, and coughs up maggots

You've four characters and only the robot really makes a difference in control with a double jump and low stature that means they're always ducking and dodges all body-aimed attacks automatically. Which each character has their own four weapons. So rather than picking up the spread gun, you actually pick up one of four lettered weapons that "unlock" your characters weapons. While bombs are rare but everyone can pick those up and use them in the same way. Dying while having a specific weapon selected will remove it from your inventory until you collect it again.

A boss referencing the final boss of the 3rd game.

Some weapons are very odd, some are crazy and some are overkill. There's a very one-sided balance with specific characters and once you realise which weapons slaughter the enemy, you'll have an easy time with most of the game aside from new bosses attacking you with new patterns and methods you'll not have been prepared for. Incidentally you do have a new move from previous games, along with running, gunning, climbing and such, you've a ground slide that leaves you invulnerable while doing it. Which in many cases is the ONLY way to get past certain boss attacks and situations and if you miss-time it, or forget you can do it because it's not listed in a lot of games, you'll lose a life.

Given this boss is the hero in the prequel game, he should have known better.

This seems to be the biggest issue with the game. It's bright, it's flashy, it's loud and fast paced, but in some places you can fight a boss and kill it without it even getting a single attack off. In other cases you'll be killed on the first strike simply because you were stood in the wrong place and the wrong time and that's just where the boss was aiming to be and you're not one life down with a weapon lost and barely any idea as to even why. In some cases you'll be hit by an attack that won't be telegraphed too clearly. Some bosses will attack directly and some will attack in every direction except the one in which they're clearly aiming at.

Yep... you're still a berk.

Aside from this, there's little really in the way of running and gunning, more often than not, particularly in the endgame, (of which there are many) it's just gunning and dodging, or finding that soft spot where you can't be hit and kill everything easily (too many bosses let you do this). But speaking of endgames, there's MANY different ways through the game and endings to be gained. One of which has you fighting in an arena before being sent back in time, another will have you duelling the last boss atop a giant space station, others will have you gunning the hell out of an alien creature while riding a giant missile whilst another is a huge mutant battle in a tripped out arena. With this, there's the multiple routes, your first end-boss for the first level depends upon which option you take, which then affects your 3rd boss and it's attack patterns. Same boss but different attacks. There are subtle changes in some places that are explained if you pay attention to the game.

Multiple characters, but few have the best weapons.

The replay factor is very strong with this one as you've a lot of game and a lot of possibilities, even going so far as to side with the bad guy and become his bitch in kicking arse and ruling the world. Failing that you can be embodied in the stars or just marry an ape and rule the dinosaurs (historical accuracy not applied here).

Riding a jet-copter, punching flames at a jetpacking assassin. Nice.

The music is hard to pick up in places as the most common sound effect is gunfire and explosions, in the calmer moments when you're transitioning from one scene to another, you'll get to hear some very well composed pieces of music and the shift and change in tone and atmosphere within the ambience is usually a clear indicator when you're fighting from boss to end level boss or final boss. It sounds more serious as the game gets more serious and adds to the adrenaline flowing pace of the action within the game.

Take 1 alien, combine another, fight the result. The professor gets devoured.

Konami seem to have managed to pull all the stops out for this game, making full use of the system available to themselves. The game is fast, fluid and certainly visually appealing though the spikes in difficulty and the inconsistency in the flow of gameplay leaves a sort of hit and miss sensation between and during some levels rather than playing as a steadily increasing challenge or a rapidly increasing pace. It's an odd one for the planning but the execution of the game is impressive considering previous games in the series and even games on the Megadrive (....... Genesis....fucks sake).

Arms crossed, shades on, look like prick. It's all here.