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  • Writer's pictureRoberto Nieves

Review - Contra: Operation Galuga

Developer: WayForward

Publisher: KONAMI

Available on: PC (Steam), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S

Review system: PlayStation 5


You know the sounds and the levels. One of the earliest gaming memories lies within this game. The infamous Konami Code came from it. It became a staple of the video game world and the action genre. The world changed in February 1987 when Konami released Contra for the very first time. A culmination of the 80s' biggest macho franchise, Contra changed gaming with its exciting gameplay, unforgettable music, and white-knuckle challenge. Contra turned into a strong franchise for Konami, and thirty-seven years later, the original returns.


Premier developer Wayforward takes its talent for classic gaming mechanics and brings it to Contra in Contra: Operation Galuga. The developer behind 2017's The Mummy Demastered and the recent Shantae games meticulously and accurately reimagines classic Contra into a rewarding new action experience for the entire gaming world. While it's a bit light on content, the gameplay is legendary and the experience lights the flames of a timeless moment in gaming history. This is a reimagining done right.



Commence Contra: Operation Galuga


Contra: Operation Galuga is a reimagining of the classic Contra. A barrage of objects fall from the sky on a lone island in the middle of the Pacific. The special marine task force, Contra, is sent in to investigate and neutralize the notorious global terrorist organization: Red Falcon. What begins as a typical military operation soon erupts into the first battle against an alien menace. Soon, Contra becomes a battle not for the fate of the island and its inhabitants, but for the fate of the whole planet. Contra: Operation Galuga takes the foundation and levels it up! The foundational gameplay set decades ago is better than ever.


Contra: Operation Galuga is a side-scrolling run-and-gun shooter where players fight hundreds of enemies while running across the stage. Some levels change the formula by adding environmental challenges, from falling rocks in a waterfall to electrified bridges. There are now additional levels and bosses, such as shooting an alien experiment while being chased on a hoverbike. The goal is to shoot everything on the screen and take no prisoners. The enemy occasionally drops new power-ups for the player's weapon. This ranges from lasers to spread shots to flamethrowers. Each weapon is different from the other and may provide better use than others depending on the battle.



New Tools For The Trade


New to this iteration are what can be described as quality-of-life improvements. Players can carry two weapons and even upgrade them. Getting several of the same weapon strengthens the shot to become far more powerful. There is a health bar that allows players to take a few hits before actually dying. This is a welcome change as the original required perfect and unerring movement as one shot would kill the player. Additionally, players can supercharge their weapons. This sacrifice creates a temporary ability. For example, supercharging the machine gun creates a temporary invincibility shield that blocks all shots.


Players accumulate credits to be used for perks. One of the big parts of completing the game is to grab every perk. This requires repeat gameplay through the stages. The perks can mean more than more lives, however. This also includes choosing a preferred starter weapon than the basic shot. The goal is to collect all the perks for each character which pads out the game's content and replay value.


Visually, the game is vibrant and colorful. It's clear the team was abundantly passionate about the original game and went through every painstaking task to recreate the classic in the best way possible. The original levels have never looked better. Even the newer levels have such movement and imagination that make the game filled with surprises. Wayforward even made a few twists with the boss fight. The Super Wall in level one truly feels like a Super Wall, with multiple stages to contend with. The alien that appears after the waterfall uses the foreground and background to crush the player. Shooting, moving, and fighting in Contra has never felt any better. it's tremendous what the team has done here!


Perhaps the best part is the soundtrack. The arrangements of familiar works well for each of the infamous levels. The snowfields, waterfalls, and fighting the alien core all work well. However, my heart swelled when I heard the arrangement for the Jungle theme, I was amped up with excitement and heartwarming memories. Contra was one of my earliest video game experiences. Me and my sister always fought together to beat the game. I wasn't very good but she managed to win every time. If the goal of Contra: Operation Galuga was to provide a sensation like that, It succeeds with flying colors.



Alien Wars with Your Best Friends


Contra: Operation Galuga features an 8-stage story mode. The story mode only allows one other player to participate. In arcade mode, four players can participate in the run-and-gun adventure four players. Playing single-player is a barrel of fun but having four players all frantically try to stay alive is even better! It's a remarkably good time if one can get at least one other player over. There is also a challenge mode for players to test their mettle.


While there is a story to Contra: Operation Galuga, it's more of a means to go from level to level. The voice cast, however, is excellent, with Toonami's leader Steve Blum leading the pack. The game, as expected, plays like a giant 80s action film extravaganza. Aliens, shooting, explosions, you name it!



Lite Cargo


Outside of these modes, however, this is where Contra: Operation Galuga hits its biggest flaw: There just isn't enough content. Granted, there is plenty of replay value for the completionists who wish to master absolutely everything. There is even a 10,000 enemies killed trophy to achieve. However, the aforementioned modes are the only modes available. This places Contra: Operation Galuga in a tough spot for the asking price.


On one hand, the game could have used an additional set of levels. If it made it to 24, that would have been more acceptable. Eight levels for a story mode is on the short side. However, the original game could be beaten in 14 minutes. The key is to keep playing, mastering every moment and every level to attain the highest score possible. To that end, Contra: Operation Galuga is worth it.



Verdict


Whether single-player or with four players, Contra: Operation Galuga is about good, lean euphoric fun. It's great by yourself but even better with friends. Wayforward should be commended for crafting a true love letter and appreciation for one of the most recognizable games in video game history. The visuals pop off the screen. The gameplay is as good as ever. While light on content, it's still a heck of a good time to have.

Finally, I couldn't finish this review without letting you know the answer to a big question. That answer is Yes. The Konami code still works. Attack Aggressively. Contra: Operation Galuga is a good time!


Contra: Operation Galuga is RECOMMENDED


Reviewed on the PlayStation 5 thanks to a key generously supplied to Stack Up through Keymailer.


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