contrahardcorpsFor as long as anyone can remember, Konami was one of many companies who made video games exclusively for Nintendo systems thanks to the Big N’s heavy license restrictions. Thus, it came as a surprise when Konami finally began to develop games for other console manufacturers’ systems, most notably the Sega Genesis. Sega’s 16-bit had already seen Rocket Knight, along with console-exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and Castlevania games, so players hoped that it would be a matter of time until Konami graced the system with its flagship run-and-gun series, Contra. Sure enough, Konami delivered. Contra Hard Corps would be the first and last Contra game on the Sega Genesis. Although it wasn’t as memorable as Contra 3, it was good enough to stand among the past entries of the series. In fact, it would be the last good Contra game before the series slipped into a period of mediocrity.

Hard Corps takes place 6 years after the events of Contra III. An evil organization has stolen the remains of Red Falcon, so it’s up to our heroes to get them back and save the world. Of course, there is not much of a story here, but this is Contra. Were you expecting War and Peace? However, one thing that is different from other Contra games, is that this Contra has multiple endings, upping the replay value a bit. Also, taking a cue from the under appreciated Contra Force, this Contra features multiple selectable playable characters, each with their own sets of weapons. Expanding on Contra 3’s double hand switching, you can selectable between your current active weapon after collecting the corresponding weapon number pod. Another thing gamers will notice, is that while prior Contra games have sent wave after wave of enemies after you, Hard Corps centers more around boss battles. However, as in true Contra tradition, it’s still very difficult. Matter of fact, it’s even harder than the Japanese game, which included a life bar, a 70 lives code, and a stage select Easter egg.

As different as it was from previous Contra games, Hard Corps still contains everything that made the series popular: extreme difficulty, blazing fast action, and cool weapons. It’s a shame that Contra 4 removed this game from series continuity, and it’s a bigger shame that this game has yet to be released on the Virtual Console. Every fan of the series should check this game out and hope that Konami will implement some more of its innovations in a future Contra title.