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Contra: Legacy of War (PlayStation) artwork

Contra: Legacy of War (PlayStation) review

"Of course, when it came time to make the follow-up, you'd think Konami would have used the same, in-house development team. Instead, they went to an outside studio, Appaloosa Interactive. And boy, they certainly created a legacy..."

Hard Corps is the best and most badass Contra game of the 90s, there's no debate here; it was the apex of its franchise's "original run", incorporating the best of its trademark mechanics and fine-tuning them to a T. Of course, when it came time to make the follow-up, you'd think Konami would have used the same, in-house development team. Instead, they went to an outside studio, Appaloosa Interactive. And boy, they certainly created a legacy... I'll get straight to the point: This game is garbage from the moment you lay your hands on the case. Normally, you sense these kinds of things minutes within the actual game, but I realized it when I was reading the manual. After nearly exploding from reading the silly series recap that attempts to tie all the Americanized plots together, I eventually arrived at Ray Poward's profile. I almost got cancer.

"Ray enjoys sushi, long walks on the beach, and owns a fabulous collection of show tunes."

Really? Really?

The downward spiral continues when the first stage starts and you hear a remixed theme. This being the direct sequel to Hard Corps, you'd thunk it would be something from that game, right? It actually turns out to be the first stage theme from Contra III. It's also reused during the ending credits. Nice respect there, Appaloosa. Though, it's not as bad as the true terror that'll greet you mere seconds into the stage, a terror that will stay with you for the entire game. It also goes by another name, Bad Camera Angle. Set at an overhead view with an annoying forward slant, it makes for an irritating experience in a 3D title that requires dodging bullets. To make life even more difficult, the camera has this strange, continual tendency to readjust itself. 100% of the time, there's no reason for this, as there's really no huge changes in the on-screen flow to justify it; one moment you're in that terrible, default angle, and in another, you're somehow almost in an entirely different isometric point of view! What's really alarming about this is that it seems to be completely intentional, like Appaloosa thought it was a cool thing to do.

I was so appalled that I wanted to give up on LoW. But then I thought, "What would Nobuya Nakazato do?" And with that, I approached the game with a Hard Corps mindset.

It wasn't working.

There was death after death. And more death. It's not like in Hard Corps, too, where you learn from your mistakes and come back a bigger beast. You can learn where certain enemies, structures, and power-ups will appear, but this knowledge doesn't make LoW any easier. Your rival, Bad Camera Angle, will get you killed more times than should be necessary. Thanks to the abstract angle, you have a tough time determining where bullets are most times. You assume a bullet is behind you, move forward, and get hit. You think it's to the left... You think it's to the right... It's just one giant assumption game. Things get worse when you realize there's a tiny invincibility period after taking a hit. A typical situation you'll find yourself in every stage is entering with a full set of lives, only to be down to two in just under a minute. I tried to play the game as straight as possible, but the handicaps imposed on me made it insanely difficult. I finally succumbed to using the nine lives code, because I wanted to see if the rest of the game (i.e., anything beyond stage two) was as bad.

I need to stop being a masochist.

There's this mini-boss that appears towards the end of the third stage, some weird, sea creature that sticks its upper-half out of the water. You're on a narrow bridge that can easily lead to your death if you're not careful. However, you can align yourself in a strafing position where it'll seem impossible to fall off, but when you move left and right, you're somehow moving forward, as well! What kind of camera trickery have you cast upon us, Appaloosa?! Not to be outdone, there's a later stage that involves falling down a bottomless pit and fighting a stupid-looking robot that likes to air hump. You can move, but the problem is you can only move from behind this giant sexbot, which means you can't even see your characters half the time as they try to dodge homing lasers. It's beyond stupid. Shoot, there's even an instance of pure, unadulterated dickery: Appaloosa had the GALL to include a segment with small platforms floating over a bottomless pit. To rub it in, a giant brain-thing with propellers constantly tries to push you off every few seconds. It was such an unbelievable moment.

The saddest thing about this whole ordeal, though, is that, even if the Bad Camera Angle was flushed out by Appaloosa, you end up with a very ho-hum Contra title. Soldiers casually approach you, countless turrets can be bypassed without firing a single bullet, half the bosses are absurdly easy and ugly to look at (disco brain? seriously?), and you're treated to backdrops loaded with variations of grey and brown. The tacky 3D mode is even half-assed: Put on those included cardboard glasses and receive a headache in a matter of seconds. You won't even notice anything pop out unless you pay extra attention to passing objects. Which... you shouldn't even do in a shooting game.

Hard Corps may be a badass game, but it unfortunately has a sequel that's bad ass.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (November 18, 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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JoeTheDestroyer posted November 18, 2010:

Nice review, Pickhut. I, too, bought this game, and I too nearly got cancer reading the instruction manual.

After playing it and trying and trying and trying, I just wanted to throw myself out a window. I traded the game instead for something better. I don't remember what game I traded it for, but you can imagine that almost anything would be better.
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pickhut posted November 19, 2010:

Thanks, Joe.

Yeah, it was one of those games where I kept hearing was terrible, but whenever I looked at the screenshots and stuff, I kept thinking, "It can't be THAT bad." Then I played it... and couldn't believe how many things went wrong. x_X

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