I’ve got some great memories of my favorite Contra game. Hard Corps takes everything that made the Contra series amazing and perfects it. This game also hits home with me quite a bit because I played it while at my family’s vacation house. So playing with my brothers and cousins was always a lot of fun.
The story, which doesn’t really matter in Contra games anyway, is that Colonel Bahamut and Dr. Mandrake are trying to use the alien cell from Contra III for their own evil intents. There’s also a guy named Deadeye Joe that tries to hinder your progress, too. What is important is that you can take one of four main paths in this game, all with different endings, depending on the choices you make. This leads to more replayability and challenge, and there’s even one bad ending and secret ending. There are also four different characters to choose from right at the beginning- Ray, Sheena, Fang, and Brownie- all of which have different weapon sets.
Speaking of weapons, if you don’t like one character’s weapon set, you can easily choose another one. All start with the default machine gun, which can be upgraded by collecting an “A” weapon capsule. There are also slots for weapons B, C, and D. These are all totally different for each character, and this makes for an interesting dynamic, especially in two player mode. All characters can slide, switch between fixed shot and free shot, and even hover with Brownie the robot. It makes for a very interesting experience indeed. If the situation gets a little too intense, then there’s a screen clearing bomb, similar to Contra III, which helps out a lot.
The difficulty, as the name implies, is quite high. I’ve only ever beaten the game using Game Genie just to see all the different endings, but I have not ever tried all that hard to seriously beat the game legitimately. I enjoy using Fang the most, as I like his upgraded A weapon, and his D blaster can be charged up to do serious damage. You’ll need more than just your basic machine gun to take down most of the bosses without much difficulty. Of course, since you suffer one hit kills and lose whatever weapon you had equipped, that just makes this game that much harder. The intense challenge helps make the game truly awesome, and the multiple pathways and multiple character choices add that much more excellence to it.There’s also a really cool and unique boss that is set in a virtual world, in which you must fight various constellations and other such contructs. Additionally, the soundtrack has that edgy 16-bit Genesis vibe, and there are tons of explosions and screams to keep things fresh and fun. Hard Corps is certainly not for the casual fan, but if it were, then it wouldn’t be an awesome Contra game.
So, if you want the best Contra experience, definitely give Hard Corps a try. It’s insanely difficult, and has frustrating parts that must be memorized in order to get past, but that’s the way it should be, quite honestly. So fire up your Sega Genesis, grab a friend and two controllers, and enjoy the greatest Contra experience to be had.