Contra: Shattered Soldier

-Konami (2002)





The tough-as-nails man with a tough-as-nails name, Bill Rizer, has been called back to duty to eliminate a tough-as-nails alien threat, this time with the help of a sexy, yet just as tough cyborg chick named Lucia.

My Thoughts

Contra: Shattered Soldier brings back the old-school, run-n-gun shooter. Like the all the good Contra games before it, itís in 2-D, harder than hell, and a blast to play.

This time youíll have three main guns each with a secondary charge shot. Strangely, there is no spread gun. No spread gun?! Thatís been a staple of the Contra series since day one. The weapons you do get add a bit of strategy to the old formula, and certain weapons work better against certain bosses. Once you figure out what weapons to use when, and the patterns of the enemies and bosses youíll be doing some ass-kicking. Patterns are what this game is all about; Learn the patterns and youíll get better, but master the patterns and youíll beat it.  Maybe.

The bosses themselves are some of the best bosses you have ever been slaughtered by and they have some outstanding sequences. The transforming robots are just awesome and Seamanís mutant brother is one of the freakiest bosses Iíve ever seen. You also get to fight the giant mutant turtle from Contra III, except this time it has a big childís face with the sniffles on its back. Man, nothing creeps me out more than mutated children that are trying to kill me.  

The graphics really show what a great 2-D game can look like on the PS2. Well, actually its 2-D placed in 3-D, but its still one of the best looking 2-D action games ever. Everything is hyper-detailed, which makes all the robots and monsters seem somehow real. (Konami really needs to do a 2-D Castlevania on the PS2. They've just proven how good 2-D can look with the PS2ís power.)      

The levels are varied and work in some new things such as speeder bikes and ďXtremeĒ snowboarding into the good old Contra formula. There are a few throwbacks to the various other Contras. You also get to blast your way through the levels to some really good, hard-rockiní shooter music, which changes with the action. All the levels are excellent except for the one where you go inside your buddy Lance to battle the alien parasites in his body, thatís just silly. It reminds me of the most horrendous storyline and worst series of episodes of Dragon Ball Z. The weak story here isnít anything special and voice acting is noticeably absent. The lack of voice acting feels strange in today's world of voice-acted games, although it could be for the best as many games feature such horrid and wooden actors. But the story doesnít matter too much; this game is just too awesome for the old-school gamer. 

If you are good enough, youíll unlock a few different bonus endings. If you are good enough. See, to unlock everything, you need to score 100% for your kills in all levels and never die. Ever. There is a little percentage meter at the top of the screen that increases as you blast away the alien menace and if you die, you get knocked down 2%. Getting 100% in a level is a great feeling too, because then you know just how much of a man you are.   

Konami also included a nice history of Contra. Summaries of the previous stories are there and Konami smartly pretends that the horrible 3-D Contras never existed. Another cool thing (well, I think itís pretty sweet) is that the box art, instruction book, and some pics from the game are done by one of my favorite artists, Ashley Wood. If you are a regular reader of the comic Hellspawn, you know how dark, evil, eerie, and plain cool his art can be.

So there you go. Contra is back in all its alien blasting, 2-D, kick you when youíre down glory.

Score: 9.0        


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