Take cover, NES troops! Neo City's under assault once again, and Konami sends a new soldier squadron into battle -- the Contra Force. Hold your fire and don't radio in those battle plans just yet. If you're thinking this game delivers the same fast-paced, Contra-cool action as the previous games in the series, think again. You just overestimated the power of the Force.
Ditching the straight-up, two-player warfare from Contra and Super C, Contra Force leans towards both strategy and cooperative action. You and a control- pad partner pick from four C-Force handgunners - Burn, Smith, Iron, and Beans. Each compatriot has a different foot speed, jumping ability, and weapons arsenal. The advantage is that you can switch between them anytime.
ProTip: Use Burn's grenades at close range for quick mass destruction.
Another new Contra feature enables you to direct a "resting" enForcer to cover your back! At the player select menu, you pick one of six screen positions for him to guard for five seconds. Much like an Option in Gradius, the extra player acts as a second gun who follows in your footsteps. It's nothing radical, but it helps you pass tricky spots.
Don't rely on backup during boss encounters.
If you like to run and gun on the fly, prepare to attach super glue to your combat boots. Despite a great sounding, four-soldier setup, C-Force is the slowest-moving action game for the NES in a loooooong time. The unfrantic pace is designed to enable you to think before you shoot, but who wants to do that? Moreover, multi-character screen clutter spells big trouble for the NES system's processor.
Stand still behind the barrels and shell the Level 2 missile boss. His shots will skim by your ear, but won't inflict damage.
Weak action combines with equally unmuscular level layouts. Three standard side-view stages and two top-view levels form the shorter-than-usual mission. You get unlimited continues, but slowdown plus overflowing enemies equal a rough challenge. The wild and creative alien goobers from previous Contra episodes are gone, replaced by a nondescript band of soldier strongmen.
The control is clean, but often hampered by a too-slow-to-scroll screen. Additionally, this Contra's only solid blast is the weapon power-up system, which enables you to swap between Machine Guns, Homing Missiles, and Hand Grenades by collecting toolbox icons.
Blast this Level 3 lever mechanism to release a giant crate. The chain reaction will propel you up the skyscraper.
Contra's formerly robust graphics suffer some downgrading in this chapter. Ricker, sparse sprite detail, and occasionally washed-out colors detract from the almost good-looking backgrounds. The music and sounds are unobtrusively average.
Unnecessary Use of Force
Konami had an awesome video game formula that worked in Contra and Super C. For whatever reason, Contra Force strays from the path and pays the price. The visuals and audios are passable, but the slow-moving, uninspired game play is the worst casualty of war. The four-character command feature is a great idea whose time should come someday. May the Force be without you.
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