Gameboy Review – Operation Contra

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Contra became a classic after being released on the NES back in the lat 80s. In response to the hit, Konamia decided to release a Game Boy version – action on the run! I recently took a trip and brought my faithful Gameboy Advanced alongside a couple games – one of which was Operation C for Game Boy – so I thought I would give it a review! In terms of story, you take control of Bill River, who is tasked with destroying a hidden alien cell who is attempting to develop weapons to destroy the human race! There is not much of a story besides that – but that’s is okay – this game is more about action and explosion than explosition and story!

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In terms of gameplay, this is a 2D action game where you run and gun through levels blowing up any enemies you see! There are five stages total – three of which are 2D side scrolling levels and two of which are top-down shooting levels. The 2D levels are fun and have a lot of variety including both vertical and horizontal segments. The top-down levels were a lot different with similarly looking environments and constantly repspawning enemies. The enemies themselves were quite simple and dumb but did a good job acting as fodder to destroy!

Players can pick up a variety of weapons to help them through the levels, including many favorites like spread shot, fire shot, and homing attack! The variety of weapons really spiced up the gameplay, but if you powered them up (by collecting two weapon upgrades of the same type), the game almost became too easy. I blasted through the first couple of levels no problem once I had the powered-up spread shot. The one thing that I was felt missing from this game was the lack of multiplayer! While I understand that this is a Game Boy game, and that it would be awkward to get cables together to play the game 2-player, I really felt like multiplayer is what makes Contra more than just another shooter game. 

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In terms of bosses, there is one at the end of each stage, and are pretty-well designed ranging from a submarines, tanks, and giant bugs! I was particularly impressed that they took up large portion sizes of the screen given the Game Boy’s limited hardware power. Each one took a bit of strategy to defeat unless you had the upgraded spread shot – in which case they became pushovers. The bosses did become more challenging as the game progressed, but they were never to the point of frustration. 

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In terms of graphics, the game looks like a faithful Game Boy version of Contra. There are usually a couple enemies on screen and tons of bullets flying everywhere. I was initially struck with how big bullets were on-screen, but later realized if they were any smaller, you wouldn’t be able to see them! I also enjoyed the different locales of the levels ranging from urban city, mountains, and forests! The music is awesome and does a great job setting the tone for an action game. The sound effects also effectively capture the 8-bit sounds of powerful machine guns!

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In summary, this is a pocket-sized action game that while fun, is made too easy with powered-up weapons and lacks a real multiplayer option. Despite this, the game is still a blast to play and exudes awesome music that really captures a lot of what makes a game part of the Contra series. Overall, I give this game a 7/10!

Final Score: 7/10

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