Contra Anniversary Collection
Let's attack aggressively
The line-up for the Contra Anniversary Collection has been released and it's just about everything from Hard Corps backwards. Arcade, NES, SNES, Game Boy and Genesis Contras are included, along with their Japanese and European variants; yes, the Probotector robots are back! That line-up in full:
Super Contra (Arcade)
Super C (NES)
Operation C (Game Boy)
Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)
Contra: Hard Corps (Genesis)
It's difficult to find anything to reasonably complain about, but it's worth noting a few omissions. I'd like to have seen the following:
Contra: Shattered Soldier
The inaugural PS2 Contra stuck to the series' traditional side-scrolling roots, though it expanded heavily on the boss-rush feel of Contra Hard Corps with even more pitched, multi-phase battles against truly grotesque monstrosities. It ditches the weapon power-ups for an unusual system wherein all your weapons are available to you at all times, with certain armaments more useful against certain foes. Like rock-paper-scissors, but with HOT LEAD.
WayForward's polarising Nintendo DS entry - inaccurately referred to as the fourth Contra - offers a surprisingly measured experience, with even more formidable difficulty than the series has already presented. Utilising the handheld's dual screens to create a sense of verticality, Contra 4 was polished and demanding. It also packed copious bonus content, such as extra playable characters from across the series. Naturally, being a WayForward game, they gave all the female characters pneumatic breasts. Despite this (or, if you are 14 years old, because of this), it's rather good.
The saddest loss is the literally-impossible-to-buy Contra Rebirth, a WiiWare exclusive from M2 (alongside similarly excellent Gradius and Castlevania titles). Even by Contra's outrageous standards, Rebirth is utterly bonkers. The story is utterly nonsensical and the setpieces are pure madness - watch out for a fleet of high-speed robot camels! It's short and not particularly difficult, but it's such an aesthetic treat and so goshdarn fun that it's the Contra I find myself replaying the most. I just wish it was, y'know, available.
None of this is meant to reflect that the Contra Anniversary Collection is in any way incomplete, or disappointing. It's a great little set. I suppose one could complain about there being, ultimately, only seven games to the Arcade/Castlevania Anniversary Collection's sets of eight, but this is the most definitive Contra collection yet to become available! I'm hoping that a second collection (as has been mooted for the other two) is on the cards and will include some of the games I've talked up above. We'll just have to wait and see, I suppose.
Contra Force is also missing. Nobody cares.