For those who played a gaming console back when it was… dare I say it… 2D, you may remember the frustrations and trials of Konami’s Contra titles. Endless amounts of dying, the spread gun, fractured friendships. All were marks of a true gamer. While the series has been brought back in a few different forms on different platforms, it still just missed the feeling that the original titles had. That’s why Konami released Hard Corp: Uprising, the prequel to Contra: Hard Corp, for XBLA and PSN. Will this title do the series justice or is this game beyond the help of even the Konami Code?
The story of the game is a rather simple one: In 2613, the evil leader Tiberius controls the Commonwealth; an oppressive nation which seeks to control other nations through force. This oppression causes the rise of the Resistance. However, the Resistance cannot directly compete with Tiberius’ Commonwealth army, so a group of elite Resistance fighters make one last desperate attempt to overthrow the evil leader once and for all. Hard Corps: Uprising has probably one of the most over the top, shark jumping, action packed openings I have ever had the privilege of watching. That being said… why is every other level introduced with a Bioware’d font box during the loading screen? I mean, there are so many questions just from the intro that remain unanswered.
You start off with two character choices: either Bahamut or Krystal, with two other characters available as DLC. The characters, appearing rather interesting, have little to no back story outside of the wicked intro cinematic. While previous installments in this series may have been a little lacking in this regard as well, it’s something that I expect from today’s games.
The game’s story mode, Rising Mode, allows you to upgrade your characters as you go, giving them more lives, more powerful guns or even extra moves to fight back foes. This is a nice addition to the gameplay, rewarding players for being more efficient and replaying the game. The game still keeps to its core market by offering an Arcade Mode. In this mode you have your limited amount of lives, and none of the bonuses you get in Rising Mode. It’s like playing the old school Contra again.
Hard Corps: Uprising keeps to the basics in the terms of graphics, maintaining a mostly pixelated and cell shaded style of sprites and background. The series never did transition well into 3D, so it is nice for them to keep to a formula that works. The enemies have interesting designs, however aside from the few level-exclusive enemies or bosses, you will find yourself quickly getting tired of shooting the same enemy again and again. The game does still keep the two player co-op mode which is classic to the franchise, including shared lives which will go to test the bounds of your friendship.
One shining point of this game is it still maintains a surprising level of difficulty. Even with upgrades in Rising Mode, I still found the game difficult. Not so much that I tossed the console out the window, but enough that I found myself actually having to try. Every level added in something I wasn’t expecting (That more often than not killed me in spectacular fashion) which kept you on your toes and focused on the game.
Graphics 7.5/ 10
Gameplay 8/ 10
Replayability 9/ 10
FINAL VERDICT 7.4/ 10
Hard Corps: Uprising is an interesting addition to the franchise that really brings you back to the spirit that Contra originally had. If the storytelling was just a little bit more active in the game, I could have gotten quite a bit more into it; but as it stands it still received my attention just by being from the Contra series. I hope that Konami will continue this trend of nostalgic games for the next-gen consoles. Hard Corps: Uprising is available on PSN and XBLA.