Contra: Hard Corps

The year is now 2641, five years after the events that came to be known as the "alien wars". Around the world, civilization is slowly recovering as new cities rise. However, crime rates are higher than ever and a special task force known as the "Hard Corps" is created to ensure order among this chaos.

Colonel Bahamut, a hero from the alien wars, makes his return after several years of mysterious absence and announces his plans to rule the world with the help of alien DNA that has been preserved by the government. The Hard Corps must find Bahamut before he can breed an entire army of twisted biological weapons.

Editor's review

Following the success of Contra III for Super Nintendo, Konami released a new game two years later for the Sega Megadrive system. It's obvious they planned something special, something grand. But Hard Corps was sadly overlooked by the fact that people thought it was just too damn hard, which one can agree with to a certain degree. But beyond this incredibly challenging difficulty lies a lost masterpiece.

As usual, they've nailed the control perfectly and you'll have little trouble steering your daredevil soldiers. The use of a new slide move, much like the one used in the classic Megaman games, becomes crucial if you wish to survive this multi-path roller coaster of a game. Did I say multi-path? That's right, you can access different levels and endings depending on what decisions you make. This gives Hard Corps a nice replay value because you'll want to explore all the other possibilites and challenges that await. You may also select among 4 unique characters who kind of represent difficulty levels because of how they are used. There's Ray, your typical Bill Rizer clone, Sheena, the series first female soldier, Fang, an eccentric humanoid wolf with a gun implanted in his arm, and Browny, a short but deadly robot.

Due to the Megadrive's limited palette, Hard Corps could not be able to have the same color depth as it's predecessor, but Konami did the best they could and managed to make the graphics deep enough to satisfy. Unfortunately some of the sprites and backgrounds ended up looking rather awkward, but you'll live with it, and you'll still be amazed by what the Megadrive can pull off. We're talking giant bosses rotating around in a familar mode-7 fashion, and a 3D-ish boss battle where the character is running on a road towards the camera, with a dangerous robot chasing it from behind.

Contra III had dramatic and pompous music fitting quite nicely into it's cinematic approach, here the team chose to do things a little different, using a strange fast-paced metal/techno hybrid which achieves it's purpose well. The distorted synths and banging drums gives the game the raw attitude it deserves.

This game was striving for perfection, and to give Contra gamers something a little more extreme. In way the creators succeeded in this, but sometimes you do feel like it's all too much. I can see why the game has been overlooked, but once you learn how it works you'll have a much better understanding of it. What the game lacks is situations where the gamer needs to use creative solutions to get out of certain situations, the battles are far too dependent on memorization. However, if you're looking for some good training in precision then look no further. This is game you'll want to try, because despite the flaws in Hard Corps, you simply can't deny that it's a spectacular game worth your time.

Released North America  September 14, 1994
Japan  September 15, 1994
Europe  October 14, 1994
Other titles Contra: The Hard Corps (Japan)
Probotector (Europe)
Platform Mega Drive/Genesis
Developer(s) Konami
Publisher(s) Konami
Staff Nobuya Nakazato (director)
Michiru Yamane (composer)
Aki Hata (composer)
Hiroshi Kobayashi (composer)
Players 1-2 players

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