Actual Game Buried Deep Underneath
Konami has had a pretty rough go of it for several years now. Profits are up, but player satisfaction is down. Contra: Rogue Corps is Konami’s return to an old franchise, though with some important changes made. Gone is the run-and-gun madness of before, replaced by twin-stick mechanics and brief cooldowns. While the old games had a smattering of immature lunacy, Rogue Corps embraces this aspect with open arms and foaming jaws. After some time with the game, I’m unclear whether this latest entry is either properly Contra or just parallel to the franchise’s philosophy.
I can’t stress enough how goofy and crude this game is. The word ‘stupid’ was thrown around several times at the start of the demo, possibly to get ahead of the game’s aggressive, immature tone. The playable characters include a panda, a ‘roided out cyborg, a woman with an alien stomach, and a bug monster. The intro video hammers you with their backstories and just, so much profanity. All in all, Rogue Corps starts out feeling like what I would have dreamed up for the game as a kid. It’s over the top, crude, and utterly divorced from nuance. Then I got to the gameplay.
Actual combat in Rogue Corps is a much more measured affair than the promotional material would have you believe. Between the cool-downs, the controls, and the enemy AI, the demo’s pace was positively languid. Again, this isn’t automatically indicative of the whole game’s pacing or tone. It’s possible that the demo represents the low point of a very frantic peak, gameplay-wise. On the other hand, given the reliance on upgrades, that ascent might also be a gradual one.
During the demo, I overheard another media person loudly complaining about the cool-down system. Having guns that overheat after a short period is against everything Contra stands for, they argued. The rep present assured them, and by extension all of us, that a gradual ascent into frantic gameplay gives the players more time to adjust to the controls and learn their moves. With Contra players being such a skill-focused hardcore crowd, they likely won’t need much time at all. As for the game’s excessive, immature tone, maybe people will end up loving it? I don’t care how crude the dialogue is, so long as the gameplay is good. Unfortunately, what I saw of Contra: Rogue Corps at this year’s E3 had a bit too much clunk for my tastes. You’ll have the chance to find out for yourself when it’s released this September.