Co-Optimus: The new game offers both Story and Arcade modes. Can you tell us about the features of these modes and their differences?
Tomm Hulett: Story Mode is probably the best place to start, as you meet all the characters and get the rundown on what's happening on Galuga. It has a world map, and you can replay stages and really learn the game. Arcade is where you're gonna replay it for gamer cred, as you can focus on the game itself without story scenes, and boss fights may be a little spicier [too].
Co-Optimus: What kind of difficulty options does Operation Galuga have, and how would you compare the difficulty to Contra 4 and Spidersaurs?
Tomm Hulett: The game has three difficulty levels which govern not just enemy layouts, but also player lives and checkpoints. As hinted above, Story and Arcade modes have some subtle differences. Players can also choose between a life meter or one-hit death, and there are features we've not yet revealed that mitigate difficulty further. All these factors are independent of one another, so you can really find the settings that match your desired experience.
Compared to Contra 4 and Spidersaurs, the easiest settings in Operation Galuga are probably significantly easier, while the hardest are significantly harder. My hope is the game can be an entry point for players new to the genre, but also a path to expert mastery if they want to put in the time.
Optimus: Let’s talk co-op! Are there any multiplayer-specific mechanics, and does player count affect the difficulty in any way)?
Tomm Hulett: Enemy count and boss HP both increase as the number of players does. Also, as a little bonus feature, if your buddy is hanging from a rail, you can grab onto their leg if your jump comes up short.
Co-Optimus: What happens when a co-op player runs out of lives? Can downed players to be brought back to life?
Tomm Hulett: Players can recover from Game Over the old fashioned way — by stealing lives from the living!
Co-Optimus: One co-op gameplay issue that has been around since the original Contra is that when one player moves up too quickly in vertically-scrolling levels, the other player usually gets killed as a result. In my experience, this can be especially frustrating for casual co-op partners. Is the issue a solvable one, or do you see it as a feature of the genre?
Tomm Hulett: The genre maybe not, but Contra for sure! However, we have mitigated it a little bit this time; getting scrolled offscreen decreases your HP but doesn't necessarily kill you outright. This gives you a bit more room to turn the tables on your partner.
Co-Optimus: Speaking of features, the classic Contra games have iconic soundtracks, and Operation Galuga‘s trailer music is certainly snazzy as well. What can you tell us about the soundtrack?
Tomm Hulett: I'm immensely proud of the soundtrack. It's something players will be talking about, for sure! I can't say too much yet, but WayForward fans know we are fond of incredible soundtracks, and KONAMI really indulged us with Operation Galuga. It's all slap, no cap — guaranteed! I'm sure it will be available via usual means; there's a physical edition confirmed, and while the contents of a limited edition are still secret, I don't think an OST is out of the question…
Co-Optimus: Finally, is there anything you’re proud of about Contra: Operation Galuga that we haven’t already touched on?
Tomm Hulett: Having worked on Contra 4, Operation Galuga is a big project for me personally. Contra 4 was obviously a career highlight, thanks to the fine creative WayForward folks. But now that I'm in the director's chair, this felt a bit like my final exam. Like, you're on this side of the fence now, Tomm, can you match up to that high bar? The team and I are leaving everything on the field, so I hope it meets the players' expectations.
Screenshots: Copyright Konami Digital Entertainment