Contra: Operation Galuga

  • Couch Co-Op: 4 Players
  • + Co-Op Campaign
  • + Co-Op Modes

Contra: Operation Galuga Co-op Review - Page 2

Contra Operation Galuga Xbox Series X

Operation Galuga’s gameplay deftly marries classic and new elements, and the same applies to the levels and bosses as well. Most of the 8 stages take place in environments from the original game such as the jungle, a Red Falcon base, and an alien hive. The levels here are much longer, though, with completely different layouts. Some players might feel that the levels are a bit too long, in fact. Still, a single playthrough can be completed in under an hour, so the game’s far from bloated. While the base invasion stages of the original Contra are absent, they’ve been replaced with a pair of exciting hoverbike stages. The bosses primarily consist of fresh interpretations of classic bosses from the original game, and even one from Contra III. Fighting them is a blast, and most of them telegraph their attacks quite fairly. The last stage and final boss are truly intense and thrilling, a fitting climax to an epic adventure.

Difficulty has sometimes been an issue in the Contra series. The NES game started out being quite manageable thanks to the Konami code, but some otherwise great entries like Hard Corps Uprising and Contra 4 have been too tough for their own good. As the director explained in our developer interview, however, Operation Galuga is designed to accommodate beginner and expert players alike. Not only are there three selectable difficulty levels with NO difficulty-specific Achievements, but players can choose between having a life meter (like some of the Japanese Contras) or 1-hit kills. Three hits and the stock number of lives might not be sufficient for weaker players, but that’s where the perks system comes in.

Contra Operation Galuga Perks Shop Xbox Series X

At the start of a Story or Arcade mode game, each player can choose two perks from the ones they’ve unlocked. These allow for customizing the experience in numerous ways such as adding extra health or lives, making weapons retain their level when the player gets hit, and many more. Unlocking perks is the metagame that will keep players coming back for countless playthroughs. Playing levels and completing challenges rewards you with credits, and those credits can then be spent to unlock perks, new characters, and alternate soundtracks from the Perks Shop. Some perks are super expensive, so grinding will be required to unlock the full assortment.

Contra games typically shine in co-op, and Operation Galuga is no different. Whether playing Story or Arcade, each player gets to select their own character and perks, instilling a sense of freedom from the outset. While a fresh save file will offer few if any perks for difficulty management, the primary player can certainly spend a little time unlocking perks solo in order to ease in a weaker co-op partner. Co-op partners who have run out of lives can steal lives from surviving players, just like in the good old days. Managing who gets weapons when they appear can take some fast acting because said weapons will disappear after a few seconds, but the team should develop a rhythm before too long. The game gets chaotic when more than two players come along, but WayForward has done an excellent job with the visibility of enemy projectiles. The only co-op feature we could really wish for would be online co-op, a feature that shoot ‘em up developers typically resist.

Contra Operation Galuga Xbox Series X

Another thing that extends replay value here is the single-player Challenge mode. By completing the game and unlocking all characters, a total of 30 challenges will become available. Challenges take place in specific parts of levels, assigning a character and weapon with no perks or aids. Goals consist of things like killing specific enemies, clearing an area within a set time, and even defeating bosses with a fixed quantity of ammo. Clearing a challenge at all gets you a credits reward, and clearing it within the par time bestows a gold trophy and larger reward. Challenges require a lot of trial and error, and some of them might be beyond a player’s abilities, but I love the bite-sized experiences they add to the game.

Updating a classic game for the modern era is tough to get right, as evidenced by nearly all of the 3D games in the Contra series. Contra: Operation Galuga really knocks it out of the park, thankfully. WayForward really understands how these games should feel and what makes them fun. This one has been given the time and budget to really tighten the gameplay and deliver an impressive presentation (ending aside). Operation Galuga might not be the technical marvel that the Super NES and Genesis games were for their time, but it’s still the best Contra since those days and one of the finest games in the run-and-gun shooter genre.

Contra Operation Galuga Xbox Series X

Contra: Operation Galuga sells for $39.99 on XboxPlayStationSwitch, and Steam. The Steam version is fully Steam Deck compatible. Preorders are open for physical editions from Limited Run Games through April 14.

Xbox and Steam download codes were provided by the publisher for this review.


Co-Op Score

The Co-Op Experience: Play with a friend through the story mode while up to four players can tackle the arcade mode.

Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.