|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Arc System Works|
|Release: February 16, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
Don't think these changes make the game anything approaching "accessible," though. The new abilities to double jump and dash are merely an excuse for the developers to make the stages tougher, and the levels are long and hard enough that it takes tons of practice to get through them, even one at a time and with a health bar. We wouldn't have minded an infinite continues option. Even the comparatively easy first stage took us several tries (and many, many curse words directed at the too-infrequent checkpoints) to conquer; the eight total stages can easily average more than an hour of work apiece, all considered. We frankly can't even imagine how someone could get through the game in Arcade mode, with one hit per life, starting all the way from the beginning whenever their continues ran out.
The graphics are a departure for the series, shunning the somewhat gritty look of the older games in favor of a colorful 2.5-D world, which isn't surprising given that Arc is the developer that brought us BlazBlue. The visual style is certainly interesting, but we found it a little too light and cartoonish for an action title. We'd have preferred something truer to the series' history.
The sound, unfortunately, is a low point for the game. For music, there are rock versions of classic Contra tunes, but the recordings sound overly hyper and synthetic, as though they were recorded for a corporate-training video or Saturday-morning cartoon in the 1990s. The voice acting is annoying, with repetitive groans whenever an enemy dies and overused dialogue clips.
All in all, because of the difficulty, we suggest that those uninitiated to Contra stay away from Uprising unless they're really up for a challenge. Despite the improvements, many aspects of the gameplay are still antiquated, and without a soft spot for Contra in your heart to keep you going, there's little chance you'll see this tough-as-nails title through to the end. Try Weapon of Choice instead for a far more bearable, if also shorter, side-scrolling action experience.
However, Hard Corps: Uprising is a love letter to Contra fans, a distillation of everything they love about the series augmented by some control and visual updates. If you have a history with the franchise, a hankering for explosive 2D action, and a whole lot of patience, it's a great buy for your $15.
CCC Freelance Writer