Contra: Operation Galuga Review | PC

The classic game we loved and hated just got a massive overhaul.

By R3GR3T, Posted 11 Mar 2024

Just when you think it’s all been done, life throws another curve ball at us. We’ve had some great releases so far, a few terrible ones and a not-so-nice remaster… But a good remake is a rare sight to see. This is where WayForward comes into the picture, a veteran studio that’s been around since 1990 in sunny California. Although they might not have the most shining reputation, and they have a trend of focusing on pixel art games, they definitely have a great track record with all their releases having positive ratings. So, what if the script was flipped, and they took an old pixel art game and gave it a massive overhaul into a more 3D design?


Contra: Operation Galuga, Review, Screenshots, Side-Scroller, Action, Shooter, NoobFeed
 

That’s right, this studio went for the mother of all ambitious moves and undertook a remake of Contra: Operation Galuga. The original Contra was released in the 1980s in coin-operated arcades, and soon after for other consoles of the time; right off the bat, it was a fan favorite and beloved by many. However, it was only a matter of time before someone picked up the old game and brought it forward to the present with a major visual upgrade, even if it was almost four decades later. WayForward picked up the project and went above and beyond with this one, moving outside of their comfort zone to bring us a remake of Contra: Operation Galuga on 12 March.

The world of Contra: Operation Galuga might not have changed much in terms of the story, but everything else is definitely vastly different from what we remember. Starting off, you’ll be greeted with a brand-new cinematic showing the Galuga Archipelago getting hit by a meteor shower and a mysterious artifact springing to life. Now, even with the vague plot to start with, we’re taken to a chopper where Doyle briefs Bill Rizer and Lance Bean on their current mission. Their mission starts with uncovering what the terrorist group known as Red Falcon is up to in Galuga and apprehending the Lieutenant. However, this whole plan goes very far South, very quickly, as things are not quite as they seem, but the mission still stands and is now the fate of the world.

Even though their mission changed, Bill and Lance will have to dig deeper into what could be a world-ending event involving more than just Red Falcon and will instead start moving towards an alien threat with a few fun twists. So, buckle up, grab a gun and a friend, and get ready for a hell of a ride in this reimagined classic as you explore just how deep the threat goes in while reliving the old days. Sadly, for those who were wondering… The Konami Code (Or Contra Code) does not work on the Contra Remake. It’s a pity it was removed, but it is technically cheating, and it’s also apparently frowned upon in this day and age.


Contra: Operation Galuga, Review, Screenshots, Side-Scroller, Action, Shooter, NoobFeed
 

So, with the briefing and the world out of the way, you’ll be happy to know that our favorite Contra members are still part of the original duo. However, Contra: Operation Galuga does come with a few interesting twists, the first and most notable one being that there are more playable characters that you can unlock as you progress through the story. Aside from Bill and Lance, there are three other characters you can unlock. Now, all these characters have the standard loadout, but there is an interesting difference with the other 3; Bill and Lance have the typical Dash movement, but the remainder each have their own unique form of a ‘Dash’ such as a grapple to give an example.

Contra: Operation Galuga still follows the side-scroller motif we know and love alongside a massive visual upgrade; this means movement is still the same. Aside from the normal back-and-forth running, jumping, and platforming, and even the all too infamous double jump, the game still retains that same smooth gameplay from the original. However, there is one particularly nice change that was added… Being able to stop and shoot instead of being forced to run and the gun makes life so much easier since you won’t have to run and aim, and you now have the ability to stop for a little spray and pray action.

Now, it wouldn’t be Contra: Operation Galuga without weapons. Much the same as before, you’ll start with the typical machine gun that will do the bare minimum of damage. Luckily, special weapons, such as Weapon Pods, are always available in abundance that you can shoot down. However, for those who don’t know, weapons from these pods will be marked with a single letter – ‘M’ for Machine gun, ‘S’ for Spread, ‘H’ for Homing Missile, etc. Sadly, these drops can seem completely random at first, but this is far from the case, as it looks like the pods are planned for every part of every stage. This makes things a bit more predictable, but far from boring in this Metroidvania bullet-hell-like release; you’ll need every advantage if you want to make it through the many stages that lie ahead.


Contra: Operation Galuga, Review, Screenshots, Side-Scroller, Action, Shooter, NoobFeed
 

The many weapons you pick up are great, but you’ll also be happy to know that you’re not limited to just one weapon; you’ll be able to carry two at a time. To sweeten the deal, picking up a weapon pod with a matching weapon you’re already carrying will upgrade it to level 2 for a nice boost. However, Contra: Operation Galuga balances that out by downgrading your weapon if you get hit, along with taking a bite out of your health. It’s an annoying trade-off, but it’s also a good motivator to make sure you try to avoid damage simply to keep your overpowered weapons.

This brings us to the slippery slope that involves your health bar. You’ll have 3 bars, meaning you can take three hits, and then you lose a life along with the weapon you were carrying. You’ll also start with only three lives carrying on with the trend. Once those run out, the game is over, and you can then choose to continue at the last checkpoint or restart the stage. Ok, so maybe it’s not that bad, but it can still be a pain when it hits your overall score and your chance at getting more credits to spend in the Perk Shop. That’s right, there’s a brand-new Perk Shop where you can get some much-needed boosts for individual characters or global buffs such as extra lives, starting weapons, and much more.

The Perk Shop is most likely the biggest addition to Contra: Operation Galuga. These might give you an unfair advantage in an intentionally unbalanced game, but it was never implied that getting credits to spend on those perks would be easy. How well you do in either Story Mode or Arcade Mode is the biggest deciding factor regarding how many credits you’ll get at the end of your run; maintaining a higher score will net you more credits.


Contra: Operation Galuga, Review, Screenshots, Side-Scroller, Action, Shooter, NoobFeed
 

This goes without saying, but Contra: Operation Galuga is definitely akin to several major themes in the sense that you’re not just gunning down endless hordes of enemies and bizarre aliens or biomutants. You’ll have to pay attention to patterns in some cases and just push through endlessly spawning numbers to get to the next part in others. However, there is always a pattern of sorts, though this is far from easy to figure out when you have limited health and even more limited lives to work with. Sometimes, there is a little randomness from your end as the player is the answer to make it through to the next stage.

As mentioned before, Contra: Operation Galuga got a massive visual overhaul and was brought to the modern era since its heyday on the NES with low-resolution pixel art. The newly added cinematics and texturing are a brilliant change while maintaining the original appeal it had, but there is just one tiny downside that becomes somewhat obvious if you pay attention: enemy projectiles can look a little dated and don’t quite fit the rest of the visuals. This doesn’t mean they’re an eyesore, as everything else still looks great, but it’s a little hard to ignore.

One of the biggest upgrades Contra: Operation Galuga sees is with its soundtrack and the newly added voice acting during cinematics and even in certain sections. Starting with the soundtrack: A lot of the level music is still the same but heavily modernized and redone. However, you’ll also have the option to use the retro soundtrack if you feel nostalgic. On the other hand, the voice acting is what really brings this remake to life now that we finally have voices to tie to the characters, and we can, without a doubt, say the voice actors more than match the characters, but you’ll need to hear for yourself.



 

Overall, Contra: Operation Galuga might have been an unexpected remake of an ancient classic, but it’s definitely a remake we needed. For those who want to relive their childhood or want a little blast from the past without being there, this release might be the best remake we’ve had in years. Between the upgraded visuals, new cinematics, and voice acting, Contra: Operation Galuga will most likely take a spot next to its predecessor in the Hall of Fame for years to come for both new and old gamers.
 

Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Senior Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Konami
Developer(s): WayForward
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Side-Scroller, Shooter
Release Date: 2024-03-12

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