|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: M2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Konami||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 7, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Though gaming has continued to change throughout the decades, with many tweaks geared toward opening up the medium to mainstream audiences, there are still many gamers who like it rough. Titles such as Battle Toads and Ninja Gaiden will be long remembered for offering up incredible challenge, but Contra is certainly one of the most prolific and well-loved series in the pantheon of player-crushing games. Along with developers M2, Konami now brings Wii owners a "ReBirth" of the franchise. Are you man enough to take on the challenge?
If you're not already familiar with the Contra series, it's a run-and-gun shooter with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. The games are famous for being incredibly difficult, and ReBirth lives up to that legacy on WiiWare.
The game starts off with a short exposition, wherein your character is awoken from a sort of cryogenic sleep. You're a Contra (special-ops type of guy), and Earth is in need of your help against the alien invasion of Chief Salamander and the Neo-Salamander army. The story is told by way of still images and text, and though the presentation offers little pizzazz, it gets the job done, maybe even eliciting a chuckle here and there.
Contra ReBirth harkens back to arcade games of the past, and it's meant to be played in a single sitting. There are five "Areas" to play through, each with its own distinct feel, but unfortunately, there aren't any areas that offer the type of behind-the-back combat seen in past games. Still, the levels are fast, furious, and a ton of fun. The controls are incredibly tight and easy to get into, and the mix of platforming and shooting is pretty much spot-on.
The Contra and Metal Slug series have always had a lot in common, and one of the highlights of both is the selection of weapons you pick up throughout levels. The variety in ReBirth is a tad sparse, but the weapons that are included definitely differ significantly, making each one particularly valuable in certain situations.
ReBirth actually doesn't deviate much at all from past games in the franchise. You can still only aim in eight directions - no true analog control - and enemies act in set patterns and behaviors. It's hard to knock it, though, since the formula still holds up quite well. Running and gunning through Contra ReBirth is as fun as any game should be in this day and age, but it doesn't bring anything new to the table, either.
One particular issue we do have to point out is that your character can't move while shooting. This is both a good thing and a not-so-good thing. On the one hand, some parts of a level might present you with very narrow outcroppings you'll need to navigate whilst blasting your way through hordes of enemies and automated turrets. Locking your position into place while shooting in these areas really helps in terms of keeping you from constantly falling to your demise. However, considering the difficulty of bosses and certain other enemies, having to stop in order to fire can mean instant death. For those who enjoyed Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS, this might be a bit of a sore spot.
Oh yeah, one hit, one kill - not for the enemies but for you. Old-time fans are well familiar with how Contra works, but newcomers will likely be in for a rude awakening when they find themselves looking at the "Game Over" screen before making it halfway through the first level. If you get hit once, you're dead. ReBirth, however, is undoubtedly more forgiving than Contra 4, allowing you to set up to seven lives for your character and offering endless continues. The checkpoints are also a lot easier to swallow, and even if your game ends, you won't have to start completely from scratch. By choosing "Continue" at the menu screen, you'll simply start from the beginning of the last checkpoint.