Home Reviews 4/5 Review Contra: Operation Galuga Review

Contra: Operation Galuga Review


At grave risk of sounding like a stuck record, I used to play Contra III on my Super Nintendo; the takeaway memory being just how bloody hard the game was, getting past the first boss was a real achievement. 

Fast forward more years than I’d care to think about and a new entry in the series has appeared on the Xbox. Well, when I say new, I actually mean a reimagining of the very game in the series which launched on the lowly NES. So, this new(ish) game coming from WayForward and Konami themselves is called Contra: Operation Galuga, and it promises to bring the classic run n’ gun gameplay of the classic Contra titles to a modern audience. 

Contra Operation Galuga review 1
Classic Contra action

Obviously we are going to need a story to go along with all the shooting that is in store for us with Contra: Operation Galuga, as wanton violence is never fun. It appears that a group known as the Red Falcon, a nasty terrorist group, has taken over the Galuga Islands off the coast of New Zealand. Clearly this may be an issue, but more concerning is the fact that we have picked up worrying gravity readings from the main base of Red Falcon. Gravity weapons have been banned for a long time, so it is decided to send the elite Contra troops in to see what is happening. 

We are Lance Bean or Bill Rizer, let to infiltrate the islands to see what is going on. From there the story gets progressively weirder, with aliens, invasion forces and so on all playing a part in the narrative. And, of course, rather than sneaking in for a quiet look, we are going to go in all guns blazing and sort the terrorists (and aliens) out with an overdose of lead. So far, so cliche. Right?

Presentation of Contra: Operation Galuga is very much as you would expect from a Contra game – a series of left to right scrolling levels, with our heroes in the middle and all the world enemies trying to tear them a new one. The graphics look clean and shiny, with a lot of personality, whilst the action being portrayed is certainly fast and furious. The frame rate stays rock solid all the way through with no slowdown despite how busy the screen can get; something that is especially true in two player mode. 

Sound is also great, with good music, passable voice acting (if a little on the “dudebro” side) and the various guns that we get to pick up and shoot all having their own distinct sound. All in all, presentation is very good indeed. 

Contra Operation Galuga review 2
Clean and shiny

The news is equally good, if not exactly earth shattering, when we consider the gameplay. You see, in my experience, you know what you are getting from a Contra game, and this does nothing to disabuse you of that notion. We run, we gun, we jump about and that, in a nutshell, is the long and short of it.

However, there have been a few little touches added to make this a more exciting experience, and the majority of those are to do with the weapons that we pick up. As is usual in shooter games, we start out with a weedy little pea-shooter, but by shooting the pods that float across the screen, access to new, more powerful weapons emerges. My favourite has to be the ones that say “H” on them, as this is a homing missile that means that aiming is no longer necessary – this is a big help when you are leaping about trying to avoid being squished by a boss. 

There are many weapons to pick up and try out, and one of the new features comes in the form of the Overload function. With a simple press of the LT button, we overload our current weapon, gaining various special powers in return for sacrificing the power currently in place. Some are defensive, some are offensive, and in a tight spot they can really save your bacon. 

Another good feature is the way that the weapons can also be powered up. If you pick up multiple copies of the same power up, the weapon gets stronger, and obviously this can only be a good thing. If you get hit, the weapon you were using drops a power level, and so this adds a new layer of gameplay as you try to maintain the best version of your chosen weapon. Having a second player join you also helps, and this is where Contra comes alive. And in Arcade mode you can apparently have up to four players, but sadly I don’t have enough controllers – nor friends – to fully test that.  

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Get the flamethrowers out

Add in a levelling system where you can purchase “perks” that enable you to tweak how the game plays, and Contra: Operation Galuga will be able to challenge you for a while. Story mode, Arcade mode and Challenge mode are all available, and there is no shortage of challenge in the levels. In fact, the difficulty is as hard as I remember, and while you can dial it down, for the full Contra experience, leave it where it is and git gud!

In conclusion, Contra: Operation Galuga is a more than solid run and gun shooter that you should take for a spin. It comes with some great shooting action, an interesting weapon system and the chance to play with friends. Just be aware of the difficulty. 

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contra-operation-galuga-review<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Great shooting action</li> <li>Interesting weapon system</li> <li>Co-op play is always welcome</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Can be really hard in sections</li> <li>Nothing wildly new or exciting, but a solid game</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Konami</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 12 March 2024 | £34.99</li> </ul>
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