[Review] CONTRA ROGUE CORPS – Nintendo Switch

Written by Lewis Petch
  • Developer: Konami
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Release Date: 26/09/2019
  • Price: £39.99 / $39.99
  • Review code provided by Konami

Intro

The first game code I recieved here at Nintendad was for Blazing Chrome, a game made by and for fans of Contra and Metal Slug. As a casual fan of the Contra franchise myself, it was a real treat; now here we are reviewing an official new Contra game – the first real entry since Hard Corps: Uprising in 2011. Did Contra: Rogue Corps live up to its expectations and legacy? If you’ve seen this review score you already know the answer to that, but read on regardless.

A return to Contra

Set after the events of Contra III: The Alien Wars (a game released back in 1992), Contra: Rogue Corps is a run-and-gun shooter as you would expect from the series, however a different approach was taken here; Contra: Rogue Corps sports a top-down isometric view resembling that of the old Infinity Engine games, à la Baldur’s Gate. An interesting change and a brave step for Konami, but one that was ultimately a mistake.

Picking from a number of different characters, in this game you work your way through a series of levels that are accessible via a hub (access to the hub is granted upon completing the tutorial) and work your way up the ranks. In each level you essentially shoot and bomb your way though hordes of enemy swarms, opting for enemy quantity over quality. Not a corner that the developers should have cut. The levels also sadly play out in much the same way, with dull and repetitive objectives leading to an unsatisfying stale feeling.

Shoot the Maggots Down.

Unfortunately, the perspective transition has not faired this game well. The movement is clunky and cumbersome, jumping being the worst offender – a slight jump causes your character to do a barely controllable Sonic the Hedgehog-like multi-somersault spin jump. Other movement methods include standard runing and dashing which allows for breaking through enemy defenses.

The top-down view accompanied by the unfortunately awkward and clumsy twin-stick shooting makes this game more about fighting with the gameplay than with the enemies, at least towards the start. Getting used to the controls takes some getting used to, and, at least to me, never feels quite right even after becoming more familiar with it. Contra: Rogue Corps also has some moments scattered throughout wherein the gameplay makes a switch to an even more awkward shooting gallery mode which adds Y-axis aiming.

This guy is huge. As is my disappointment.

Contra: Rogue Corps does however have some good ideas when it comes to certain enemies and bosses. They clearly put in extra effort when it came to some of the boss designs and attack patterns, but not all enemies are created equal. Many of the enemies were just repetitive spam that left the battles feeling more tedius than anything. But a select few where highly enjoyable challenges.

Outside of the levels there are systems in place to improve your character and weapons with the surgery room and the workshop. The surgery room allows you to improve your stats through organ, and apparently skeleton, transplants. Grim right? These parts can be purchased from a black market at the same location, or gathered as you play. The workshop is where you can purchase, develop, and customize your weapons. The customization options are wide, but don’t do enough to differentiate things in actual gameplay.

Let’s Call For Backup.

If playing with others is more your style, Contra: Rogue Corps has you covered, you can search for online rooms to play with strangers, create your own public or private rooms, or play up to 4-player couch co-op. From what I played, I had no issues with any of the online modes, quite the opposite. Playing with others made the experience a little more enjoyable.

When playing with others online, the full campaign is available alongside various exploration missions. An up to 4-player couch co-op mode can also be unlocked, if you have some friends over, have it it. Differentiating players is made easy by the coloured circles surrounding th feet of the character models, so you wont need to worry about who is who.

Did He Really Just Say That?

The dialogue in Contra: Rogue Corps is cuss-riddled and cheesy, sometimes to an uncomfortable extent. Konami clearly intended to go for a ‘badass’ feeling with the voice lines, but it frankly just doesn’t feel natural, nor is it necessary. I have no aversion to bad language, but this game’s handling of it was frequently jarring. The same can be said for the audio in other areas, nothing stood out to me as being all that impressive. Everything is very mediocre.

Visually is when things go from bad, to worse. I have not played this game on any other platform other than the Switch, but on the latter, the game is hideous. Dreadful resolution and washed out visuals make for one of the worst-looking Switch games i’ve played thus far. This goes for both docked and handheld i’m afraid to say. The only positive I can find here is the cutscenes, which employ a rather aesthetically pleasing comicbook-esque style, but this is in stark contrast to the rest of the game.

Conclusion

No matter what Konami calls this game, it feels like anything but the beloved Contra franchise. Clunky and awkward controls, bizzare design decisions, and shockingly poor visuals make this game a very hard recommendation – especially for the asking price. Small bursts of fun are admittedly present, and the multiplayer does add some enjoyment and replayability. But all in all, this game is a tough sell. I only hope that Konami considers a return to the classic style of Contra game in the future.

Pros

  • A variety of game modes.
  • Multiplayer, allows for both online and co-op gameplay.
  • Decent customization options.

Cons

  • Clunky, awkward combat and movement.
  • Cheesy dialogue and jarring overuse of profanity.
  • Repetitive and bland levels and goals.
  • Dreadful visuals, low resolution and washed out.
  • Characters are all similar enough that it hardly matters which you choose to play.

Verdict

Contra: Rogue Corps is a messy and unsatisfying game, plagued by a variety of problems with controls and visuals with some small bursts of fun.

1.5/5

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