GENESIS Review – Contra: Hard Corps


The Contra series is hard – REALLY hard! I’ve never beaten a Contra game in my life! When I got back into retro gaming, I came across a Contra game that I didn’t even know existed – it was Contra: Hard Corps and it was the first game in the series for a Sega system!  I was surprised by how many unique concepts were introduced in this game that never made it anywhere else in the series!

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The story is set in a futuristic world. A large metropolitan city is being attacked by by unmanned weapon, and it is up to Hard Corps – an elite group of commandos – to figure out and stop the attacks! The story unfolds in a unique way as players can select branching pathways at the end of stages which guide who players encounter and what levels they can go play. While the story is not the core component of the game, it does a good job setting up a nice world for the game to take place in.

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In terms of gameplay, this game is a 2D shooter – just like every other Contra game. You take control of your character, and can run and jump through stages, shooting enemies in all directions! While the game remains 2D, many stages incorporate variety that change up the experience like riding vehicles, or incorporating unique viewpoints like running from enemies (see the last panel of photos below for examples)! Many levels also have mid and end-stage bosses. If found many of these bosses really challenging, but over time as you learn their pattern, they become more easy to defeat.

Overall, the difficulty is VERY challenging. Initially when I started playing, I couldn’t even get past the first mini-boss. Over time though, you learn the stages and feel like you really are getting better! The game is one-hit deaths, and you only have 5 continues, so completing this game is a real accomplishment (I haven’t beat it yet)! To help with the difficulty though, you can take a friend for 2-player co-op! While still hard, I found it a lot more fun with another player to suffer through the game with!

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One of the really unique factors in the game is the introduction of multiple different characters. These characters aren’t just aesthetically different as well. This game introduces 4 unique characters with different sizes and weapon types. I found that some of these characters were easier than others – especially the little robot who is super small an has a cool jump! Each character – man, woman, humanoid dog, and robot – are all fun to play and really add a lot of replay value for the game!

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In terms of graphics, the game looks phenomenal and has aged extremely well. The colours are bright, the game runs smoothly, and the levels have a great post-apocalyptic look that cover a ton of different environments. The sprites are also quite detailed, and the bosses look huge and intimidating! The music and sound-effects are fine and get the job done, but they don’t jump out as much as some of the music from other games in the series.

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In summary, Contra: Hard Corps is an awesome coopertive 2D shooter with great graphics and a steep difficulty curve. The difficulty may put some off, but if you stick with it, the game becomes more accessible and feels rewarding when you finally gain access to other levels! The addition of multiple playable characters and branching storyline really adds to the overall package. Overall, I give this game a final score of 8/10.

Final Score: 8/10

One thought on “GENESIS Review – Contra: Hard Corps

  1. This was one of my fav games on Sega during the old days. Yep, It sure is difficult. I played Contra with my bro and it took us many tries.. (I can’t count) before completing this game.


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