Contra Evolution Review

Contra Evolution Review

Sep 23, 2013

Ever play the original Contra on the NES and get to a really hard part and say “If I could, I would pay real money – and a good amount, too – to get a more powerful weapon to beat this boss” or “I would sell my firstborn for more continues?” Well congratulations – the advance of technology has finally caught up to one of the most challenging run ’n gun games of all time, and Konami has made NES Contra into an IAP-laden experience, though the soul of the game definitely remains.

This is still the NES classic version of Contra, just with some new additions to the meta-game that change how players interface with it. Mostly, what Konami has added is a two-tier currency system and the ability to buy special weapons while mid-game. Think a laser would help beat that boss? Drop a couple hundred coins or a gem on it and play with power! There’s still the flying football things that drop weapons when destroyed, and the weapons system works like Contra 3, at least: if it’s not the selected weapon when killed, it doesn’t disappear.

Oh, but that’s not the only thing to cost money: continues no longer come for free, now they’re all bought with coins or gems. And they get more expensive the later on in the game gets. Devious.


The graphical update is regrettable. There’s too much detail to tell what’s going on at times. The controls fiddle around with virtual joysticks when really, there’s only the need for the virtual d-pad, which is infinitely more accurate. There’s no multiplayer. There’s at least an interesting mission mode which throws modified segments of levels at players to try and get high scores on them to earn eagle medallions, which can be used to unlock two new female characters who play differently. So at least there’s that. Overall, just adding all this IAP to one of the most pure games of all time feels dirty.

The thing is this, though: no matter how much they chop up Contra, it’s still Contra. The same soul of the game remains. The weapons have clearly been rebalanced to favor special weapons (and the people who pay to buy them) as the standard pea shooter feels even weaker than it ever did. And despite a hideous new coat of paint, the classic moments are all there. This is Contra, the NES Contra, that same game I enjoyed as a kid playing with my dad, it’s here. And it’s hard not to feel nostalgic or to have fun with it. Konami may want players to pay – and keep paying – for the pleasure of playing it, but at the very worst, they couldn’t destroy the soul of Contra.

But it’s only for those who have played and enjoyed Contra before and really want to play it legally on their phones to whom I can recommend this game. For those new to this classic? Play the classic NES version, some way, somehow. This should not be anyone’s first experience with Contra. No, Contra Evolution is only for those who know what this game is.

Contra Evolution Review Rundown

Graphics/Sound - The updated graphics are far too detailed and do not improve on the simple pixel graphics of the original. The soundtrack is still preserved, though!
Controls - Auto-firing makes things easier, make sure to also turn off the virtual joystick and go with a d-pad instead, in the settings. Makes the game infinitely more playable.
Gameplay - I don't think the new additions on the whole make this game better, but it's hard to corrupt a classic like this too much.
Replay Value - Continuing is expensive, but it's still Contra, and the missions do add some pick-up-and-play value.
Overall - This is still a classic, just not a rendition that will be remembered.

Download: App available at the Google Play Store »

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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