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Contra Rebirth Review (WiiWare)

Posted by Jim Cook, Sep 18, 2009 05:14

While I haven’t had time to touch more recent releases in the series, the original Contra was one of my favorite games as a child so I was thrilled to see Contra Rebirth appear on the WiiWare service. I knew what I was in for when I forked over my 1000 Wii Points/$10; a simple run-and-gun platformer similar to the NES and Super Nintendo entries in the series, with Rebirth owing more to the latter’s influences.

Rebirth goes with what works; it’s a 2D platformer that gives you some guns and turns you loose on five mostly side-scrolling stages, letting you blast your way through hordes of aliens on your way to the boss and mini-boss of each level. You start off with just a basic machine gun, but can quickly grab up to two of several typical Contra weapons; a spread-shot that fires several weak projectiles in a wide area, homing rockets that go after convenient targets, lasers that punch through entire crowds of enemies at once, and so on. Notably, some weapons from previous installments are missing, such as bombs and flame-throwers, but this is more unfortunate than truly crippling.

While you only get five stages, they’re all pretty good. The typical side-scrolling run and jump action is present in most of them, though a few do get creative; one stage has you riding a small hovering bar of metal that descends into a pit full of enemies and traps, so it’s up to you to do various acrobatics off the bar while shooting your foes and making sure you re-grab the bar on the way down. On the other hand, a few segments are clearly taken from other Contra games, including the early appearance of the tower that served as the ’boss’ of the first stage to the original Contra. Some will say these touches are nice homages to the classics, others will say it’s lazy, and which camp you fall in to is probably a matter of personal taste.

The graphics and controls are mostly based on Contra 3, albeit touched up a little. Rebirth looks like a 16-bit game, and while you can play it with the Wii Remote held NES-style, it’s probably best to use a Classic Controller. This is because you’re not just running and jumping, but also have buttons available for switching between guns or holding your character in place while you aim their gun -- an ability more useful than it sounds on some stages. A fair amount of the music and sound effects are either taken from, or remixed from, other Contra games too and this will do a lot to appeal to retro fans.

The five stages are each of merely adequate length, and my first run through it took around twenty to thirty minutes. Repeat play-throughs are encouraged, since beating the game on different difficulty levels unlocks new characters (though they play similarly, albeit not identically, to the two you start with) and harder difficulties as well. It could stand to be longer, but what you get isn’t bad.

Ultimately, your ten bucks are buying exactly what fans of the series would expect; classic run-and-gun platforming action. The game is a little short for the price Konami is asking for, but never dull; each stage keeps the excitement going and is paced very well. In fact, I have only two caveats against this game; one is that it’s directly competing with Contra 3 on the Virtual Console, which costs a little less and has a little more content. Second, at 1000 Wii Points this game is going head to head with several far more ambitious, top-notch games on the WiiWare service and is admittedly a little short to compare favorably with them. But if you’re a fan of this kind of game and have the points to spare, Contra Rebirth is a good choice.

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Our Rating for Contra Rebirth Review (WiiWare)
6.0 Replay
It’s short, but repeat plays are rewarded with a few unlockables; it’s worth playing through a few times.
6.5 Graphics
The game does a good job of looking like a slightly modernized version of a Super Nintendo title.
8.0 Sound
A mix of good music, including some remixes of classic Contra tunes, works well with the sounds effects.
7.5 Gameplay
A little short, but each stage is very well paced and the controls are great.
7.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
No online play, though local co-op is supported and ought to be fun with friends.
7.5 Overall
A solid ’retro game’, Contra Rebirth is worthwhile if you enjoy old-school platformers.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0


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