The game does boast a few superficial upgrades that you will probably not even notice. Microsoft advertises this product as featuring "enhanced graphics", but the only thing that is really different is the smoke and bullet effects. Otherwise the game looks exactly like it did twenty years ago in the arcade. The music also received an upgrade, but unlike the graphics you will probably notice the different music. There's nothing technically wrong with the music, but when the upgraded tunes are the best part of your game you know that you're in for a rough time.
And then there are the achievement points. All Xbox Live Arcade games are supposed to offer 200 points, and Contra does not disappoint. Some of the achievements are for doing basic things, like beating the first level or killing a boss. But other achievements are a bit tougher, like trying to beat the game on one continue or finishing the game in less than 12 minutes. There are a couple of online achievement points too, but beating the game with an online friend will drive you insane if you continue to be disconnected. Most Contra fans will be able to get most of these points in only a few times through the game. Once you've picked up all 200 points it's hard to justify playing the game again, even if you're the biggest Contra fan on the planet.
The good news is that Contra is only 400 Microsoft points (which is $5), so it's not like you're going to break the bank when it comes to buying this game. But then, if you're going to spend the money to buy an Xbox Live Arcade game you might as well spend a little extra and buy something that isn't fundamentally broken. Perhaps it's time to give Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 a try, or maybe see why everybody loves Geometry Wars. Whatever you do, don't make the mistake that this is the NES Contra you remember from your childhood. This is not the classic everybody loves; this is a broken arcade port that is only fun for a few minutes.
This Xbox Live Arcade port of Contra is the perfect example of how you can screw up a classic arcade game. You may still have a good time going through this action game, but if you're the type of person that fell in love with the NES version you will be sorely disappointed.
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