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Contra: Hard Corps (Genesis) artwork

Contra: Hard Corps (Genesis) review

""Restore order!" "

"Restore order!"

With those words and a fist pump from your commander, you smash into the world of Contra: Hard Corps. No, seriously, the game starts as you crash through robots and a giant, mechanical spider in your dump truck, and instead of slowing to a stop, you jump through the windshield, destroying the vehicle with the force of your body. From there, you're constantly in a fight to see just how far you can get into the game. If this was Contra III, you'd probably make it to the 4th level before losing all your (adjusted) lives. Well, this isn't Contra III! That game comes off as a practice run in comparison to the pure badassery of Hard Corps. Here, you'll likely lose everything going into the second level, hell, maybe even during the first level for quite a few tries. Acting more as a boss gauntlet, this game will put you through the ringer with its rogues gallery. Other titles' bosses will normally have a one-two punch when taking on the player, however, this beast of a game usually has one-two-three-four-five punches.

For example, if you choose to go after Deadeye Joe, an enemy you meet in an early level, you'll spend nearly most of the following level chasing him on your hover bike, through the streets. After gunning down some idiotic robots with poor combat skills, not to mention watching one of them accidentally crash into a skyscraper with their airship, you'll confront a crab-like vehicle in a tunnel. This contraption has several attack patterns, ranging from "cleansing" the tunnel with its claw, to weaving around the screen and shooting bouncy projectiles at you, and if you're not careful, you'll be sent to the continue screen in a heartbeat.

Oh, and don't even think about resting once you get back and destroy the machine; one thing you'll quickly learn from Hard Corps is to never lower your guard until the level actually ends. You'll finally catch up to Deadeye Joe, who temporarily retreats into a ship, and you, well, you drive off a cliff... at which point your bike transforms into a roadrunner! Then Deadeye returns with his ship to attack! It eventually explodes, along with your bird, and you'll be left running down the highway with a giant mecha that's somehow having difficulty keeping up with you! This paragraph needs more exclamation points!

That was just the second level, too, and gives a very good indication on what the rest of the game is going to be like. Hard Corps lives up to its name by being a brutal Contra title, pitting your crew of soldiers against an unrelenting army that refuses to go out with a whimper. Every time you destroy a boss, they either come back stronger, or another one is waiting around the corner ready to shoot down both your avatar and moral. To rub it in, a lot of the bosses seem like jokes, like the towering, T-800 skeletal boss that loves to play with its balls, or the humongous bird that poops out projectiles, but they get the last laugh when they exhaust your life count in a matter of seconds. There's no forgiveness.

To further drive the point home that this is a cartridge not to take lightly, people are forced to play the game as is; you can't switch the difficulty in the Options menu, and when you try to change your life count of three, you can only reduce them. Why even bother adding a life count option, then? Well, if you can't believe in yourself, believe in the director that believes you can be a bigger badass with fewer lives! Not stopping there, if you think you can slide through some of the levels by abusing bombs with every life, then you're in for a surprise... you don't get free bombs. You gotta catch 'em like the weapons! Though, since the game discourages the use of bombs by putting in so few, it actually teaches players a valuable lesson: Bombs don't kill people. Manly men and women with awesome skills and reflexes kill people.

In fact, the game can be so rough and epic, that many players will experience
the Five Stages of Contra: Hard Corps when playing for the first time:

1. Shock: "Wow! Can this game really be this awesome?!"

2. Rage: "This is crazy hard! How do people get through this without cheating?"

3. Doubt: "Man, this is really getting on my nerves. I'm starting to think all the praise was BS..."

4. Determination: "I don't care what I think of this Contra title this very moment, I will see it to the end!"

5. Realization: "Hard Corps is still hard as hell, but it's great! These boss fights are awesome! Whoa, did that guy just blow open a steel door by sliding through it?!"

It is hard to believe the same director, Nobuya Nakazato, did both Contra III and this game, because the differences are night and day. It's as if he woke up one morning and said, out loud, "I'm going to make the best and hardest Contra game ever! And it's going to include a hot chick, Metal Gear Mk. II, and the Wolfman with shades as playable characters!" Contra: Hard Corps is not for those with weak skills or just plain lazy, for those who want to complete a game on the weekend. It's going to take multiple playthroughs to even get anywhere near the final levels, let alone the actual ending(s). This title demands that you take it seriously, or you'll die over, and over, and over. Well, you'll do that regardless, but more if you don't improve! If you want a fun, yet casual Contra experience, play Contra III. If you want a challenging, yet somewhat annoying Contra experience, play Shattered Soldier.

But if you want the real thing, Contra: Hard Corps will be waiting for you.


pickhut's avatar
Featured community review by pickhut (October 17, 2010)

Even after reviewing all these Double Dragon games, it's crazy to think there's still a ton of games left to review due to varying interpretations.

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If you enjoyed this Contra: Hard Corps review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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zigfried posted October 17, 2010:

Sweet review. I feel more alive just by reading it!

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pickhut posted October 17, 2010:

Glad you liked it! I got tired of reviewing meh games, because it felt like they were sucking the life out of me, so I wanted to go after a really good game and picked this one.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 18, 2010:

This review delivers like a punch in the face. I'm still picking my teeth up off the carpet. Great review!
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pickhut posted October 18, 2010:

Wow, I wasn't expecting such enthusiastic comments when I wrote this review. Thanks!

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