Contra ReBirth

In 2633, the Contra team receive a distress call from the Galactic President. It seems an alien force named "Neo Salamander", under the command of Chief Salamander, have begun attacking Earth. In an attempt to wipe out Contras from existence, they travel back in time to the year 1973, a time when Earth's defenses are too primitive to be a threat.

The Contras quickly follow, but are forced to make a crash landing during an attack on their ship. By the time they return to the surface, the damage is already done and Chief Salamander has claimed dictatorship over Earth. The fate of the planet now rests with Bill Rizer, his partner Jaguar Yagyu and the android "Brownie". Together they head for Neo Salamander's underground base in Central America.

Editor's review

Imagine, if you will, that Konami made another arcade game in the Contra series sometime in the early 90's. What would it be like? This game may perhaps be the answer to that question.

Contra ReBirth is part of Konami's line of "ReBirth" titles released for Nintendo Wii, joining the two other classic franchises Gradius and Castlevania. The developer behind these titles is Japan-based M2, who seem to specialize in making ports and remakes. What M2 have tried to do with these games is take inspiration from some of the older entries in the series and mix all of those elements together into a retro-rebirth, hence the name. It seems that ever since the release of Mega Man 9, retro-style sequels have become a trend within the industry as we see more companies following this concept.

You take the role as either Bill Rizer or his partner Jaguar Yagyu. The objective is as simple as always; run through a couple of intense levels, shooting everything that moves while making sure you don't die in the process. If you're looking for a revolution in Contra gameplay, you're not going to find it here. That's not the point of this game. Instead, the point is to go back to basics - just shoot and no questions asked.

Being a WiiWare title, you shouldn't expect this to be a huge game. There are 5 fairly brief stages plus a final boss "stage" if you're playing on either normal, hard or nightmare. After each level you're treated to a nice cutscene which reveals more of the plot. Now, trying to make sense of this plot is something of a challenge. Most of the time it doesn't really make much sense, or fails to deliver any explanations. Why is Bill cryogenically frozen? Why is Lance working undercover? Not to mention working undercover dressed in drag! Even more bizarre is Jaguar Yagyu's very presence in the story. Isn't Bill supposed to meet this guy two millennia later? Ok, I'm digging too deep into this. You obviously shouldn't be taking the story too seriously, just enjoy the wackyness.

The music is mostly made up of old songs from different Contra games, which may be seen as lazy by some, but I rather like it myself. In consistency with the whole "ReBirth"-idea, the music has been made to sound like it's coming out the sound chips of old Konami arcade cabinets. Think "Super Contra" or "Turtles in Time" and you might get an idea of what to expect. We get some phenomenal remakes here, like the original jungle theme and my personal favorite, stage 2 from Operation C. They even acknowledge the America-only title "Contra Force" by using its character select music!

As I mentioned earlier, this is a WiiWare title which means it's certainly not anywhere near the quality or length you'd get from a full retail title. However, if you can see this game for what it is, a quick and cheap thrill, you will no doubt enjoy it. Especially if you're someone who enjoys the occasional trip through memory lane. I only have two complaints. Firstly, the game ends too soon. Five levels and an end boss feels like a tease to me, I would've appreciated at least one more stage. The game does have a few unlockable characters and harder difficulties, though, which add to the replayability. Secondly, there's only 4 weapons in the game, including the standard machine gun. Contra is known for giving the player a wide selection of weapons to choose from, and Contra ReBirth doesn't quite live up to that reputation. Aside from the things I just mentioned, this is a fun little tribute to Contra's past that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Released Japan  May 12, 2009
Europe  September 4, 2009
North America  September 7, 2009
Platform(s) Wii (WiiWare)
Developer(s) M2
Publisher(s) Konami
Staff Hirotaka Ishikawa (producer)
Nobuya Nakazato (producer)
Manabu Namiki (composer)
Konami Kukeiha Club (composer)
Players 1-2 Cooperative

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