Contra: Shattered Soldier

Review

posted 10/26/2002 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Here’s the basic premise of Contra: Shattered Soldier, Konami’s latest revision of the 1987 classic. Player One is removed from a cryogenic chamber after learning that Player Two has decided to lead an all-out alien invasion. It turns out that Player One is the only one powerful enough to stop Player Two so it’s up to Player One to stop Player Two and his alien buddies from taking over the planet. This ain’t epic storytelling and to be honest, it doesn’t need to be. This is Contra, it’s all about up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A baby! The only thing that’s missing is the narrator in those cheesy “In a world trailers” and we’d have ourselves a classic sci-fi flick.

All right let’s be honest, there’s a bit more to the story that I haven’t told you. The main character is actually Bill, player one in the 1987 original, and the main baddie is actually Lance, player two in the original. Bill teams up with Lucia, an entirely new female teammate, to bring down Lance and his alien friends. Both Lucia and Bill are exactly identical with the only changes coming in appearance. Odd, I thought that Bill was the only one powerful enough to take down Lance, oh well, guess there goes that storyline.

What you’ll get from Contra: Shattered Solider is a game that respectfully pays homage to the classics. The game pans out in a 2D fashion and is set in a 3D world. That means that although the environments are fully 3D, you’ll be restricted to one plane just like the original. There are some quasi-3D shooting sequences that mimic those of the original and although they are impressive the first few times, they eventually get old and drawn out. The levels seem pretty inspired from the start but tend to fizzle out by the end. You’d think that with only five levels to work with, variety wouldn’t be too difficult but apparently this isn’t the case. Each of them seems like filler space leading up to an awesome boss battle. To put it into perspective, I’d say that I spent about only a third of my time actually playing the levels while the rest of the time was spent battling the bosses. Thankfully the boss battles are just awesome and live up to the legacy that Konami has built over the years.

In another nod to the original, one hit kills is the order of the day here. Every bullet, every nudge, every time an enemy breathes on you will result in immediate and painful death. This is classic Contra and I’m certain that veterans wouldn’t want it any other way. As you progress this actually turns into a thinking man’s game. You’ll become more observant of the sequences and situations as you try to find more and more ways to save lives. While this is a highly archaic way of playing games, I feel that it fits in perfectly with the structure of this game. It makes the game difficult as hell and I’m sure that Contra vets wouldn’t want it any other way.
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