Co-Op is a staple of the Contra series, and you’re given options for playing with a friend locally or online via Xbox Live or PSN. Running and gunning with a friend is still great fun, and there’s nothing quite like both players spotting a potential weapon upgrade and risking a death to try and beat their partner to it. It’s also prone to letting players show off their bullet-reflecting skills to each other, though this can cause unintentionally hilarious moments. (See our recent This Week in Co-Op Article for more).
The difficulty of the game can also mean that your co-op experience might be incredibly lonely - once a player has lost all their lives, they can steal a life from the remaining player, so long as they have one in reserve, which is a great throwback to ye olden days, but a player who has the levels memorized, or at least has powered themselves up enough to be able to take a bit of a beating might not die for quite a while, leaving the other player as a spectator. Completing a mission doesn’t even give the second player a courtesy life on the next level, you’re simply stuck until an extra life is earned by the other player or they get a game over screen. This may not seem like a huge deal to some, but it’s quite frustrating when it crops up.
Adding to the potential frustration is the fact that whoever isn’t hosting the game cannot receive achievements. Luckily, a significant portion of them are next-to-impossible to earn (Beat the game without getting hit? Beat the game without killing a single “regular” enemy?), so it’s not quite as bad as it could be.
There’s a nagging feeling I got while playing that the game wasn’t directly given the Contra name because it doesn’t always feel like Contra. The enemies are kind of goofy looking, and the levels seem designed closer to something like Gunstar Heroes than what you’d expect from Contra. The art style can also be extremely uneven. While the sprite art and foreground details are often gorgeous, they stand in stark contrast to the background detail’s lack of personality and at times, clashes pretty badly with the polygonal elements.
I couldn’t help but be fairly disappointed with the game, as it never really seems to meet its full potential. However, if your have a partner who is a Vatican warlock assassin with tiger blood and can handle the its difficulty, there’s decent amount to enjoy here.
Protip: You can use the Konami Code in this game, but it doesn’t do what you might expect it to.
The Co-Op Experience: Run and gun with a buddy either online or off.
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.