Hard Corps: Uprising (2011, 360)

By numberrrr / May 17, 2017

Having played all the Contra games, it was tough deciding which was the best. After the smoke cleared, the ones left standing were Contra: The Hard Corps and Hard Corps: Uprising. While Hard Corps is still ahead of its time for the genre with branching story-driven stages, crazier bosses, crazy multiple endings and unique set of four characters, Uprising has so many good points that, when it comes down to it, it's overall more fun and better than the rest of them.
   Now it would have taken a dream team to create Uprising, a prequel to Hard Corps. Somehow Konami and Arc System Works created an experience that rekindles a ray of light that reminds us that even in these modern times, a new top quality Contra can be made without betraying or diminishing the foundation of the series' legacy. Working from scratch, Arc System Works has proven they can be more than skilled fighting game developers, making a masterpiece that screams Contra even without needing the name on the title screen.
   Uprising has an Arcade mode that is just as hard and hardcore like any of the toughest Contra games out there. Just trying to clear all eight stages without getting hit once won't be easy, no matter if the player is a Contra master. All stages are expertly crafted and longer than your average Contra stage. The level design is over the top and extremely high quality, to the point where you'd think they could only have been designed during the 16-bit era of quality side-scrolling shooter layouts.
   Every single stage has its own personality and atmosphere. Every inch of the environment is expertly crafted. And remember this is all created from the ground up. All the graphics, backgrounds, everything. The enemies, turrets, projectiles, explosions, characters, bosses, everything is brand new to the series. You won't see any visuals recycled from another Contra. And these visuals are high quality, as if Guilty Gear or Blazblue had been turned into a Contra. The animation quality is superb and a Contra game has never looked better. There are so many details, airships in the background, splashes of projectiles, dust clouds, moving tree branches/bushes, breakable crates, metallic platforms, electrical parts, neon signs, etc., with the stages featuring plenty to jump on, hang on, and multiple ways to get around.

   It's also badass how Uprising combines quality 2D anime art with 3D art. You see it in the environments and most of the bosses have very detailed 3D models that are well animated and often transform into new monstrosities! The characters themselves and the weapon special effects are a sight to behold, and the stages often have parts where the camera will zoom in closer or farther out to deliver a more effective level of presentation and action.
   The sound is high quality. Every shot, explosion, machine, can be heard with badass feelings. The voices are cool too but if you don't want voices they can be turned off in the options. It's cool to play through at least once with them on because they help give you a better feel for the characters' and villains' personalities. The soundtrack is one of the best in the series. Eventually you will hum to the main boss theme and explode after hearing the badass themes that play even in the early stages! And the climactic themes played during the final locations evolve the moments into an experience unlike anything else!
   When the action goes over the top, it goes even further, crazier and more badass than past Contras and other types of shooters out there. There is no shortage of enemies to kill and stuff to explode and things to dodge. You have badass snipers aiming for you, badass metal crocodiles that will eat anyone including enemies, badass cars that don't care about wrecking themselves or anyone else, a badass big ass sword-wielding warmech that goes all out and will not warn you ahead of time, a badass eyeball with freaking lasers and lethal determination, badass bats with bone-slicing sonar attacks, and tons more badassness that you shouldn't know about until you meet them yourself!
   Hard Corps: Uprising blows you away with a fully high quality anime opening that is filled with badass moments and badass music. The title screen contains the most nostalgic redone version of the original Contra's title theme! You can press circle at the menu screen if you want to hear it again and again!!!!! Hard Corps: Uprising is filled with tons of easter eggs related to other Contra games and some Konami games (like Metal Gear Solid). It reminds hardcore players of the times Konami liked to have fun with itself and bring back fond memories. There is a nice How to Play section with good tips included. Heck it even encourages players to get better and try to aim for clearing all the stages without getting hit. And it has a characters story background section. And plenty of options to customize the buttons how you want.
   Hard Corps: Uprising is a Contra that KEEPS ON GIVING. Rising mode not only makes things a little easier, it makes things more fun for a wider audience in a GOOD WAY and SMART WAY, unlike those games that dumb down the entire mechanics to cater to a certain audience. Uprising offers the best of both worlds: Arcade and Rising. The stages in Rising will still kick your ass until you learn them better. But as you keep playing, more Corps Points will allow you to unlock more health bars, lives, weapon upgrade shortcuts, more abilities, and much more. Each character has their own shop to unlock, so if you just have the two characters included, that's still over 200,000,000 worth of upgrades to unlock. And an innovative badass feature is you can toggle off any of the upgrades, so you can challenge yourself to play better if you want and it opens up a GREATER DEGREE of personal mechanical customization, which has never been done before in a Contra.

   Yeah there is stage select, and the loading screens come with chronological details of your character's story and thoughts. So from Stage 1 through Stage 8, each loading screen gives more dimension to each character's story. Yeah this ain't a CRPG but it still is a good thing to add without interfering with the mechanics to the point of sitting through long cutscenes before jumping back into the action. It's better this way cause Contra is about the action and hardcore mechanics.
   The Konami code works, it unlocks a super badass remix of OG Contra's first stage theme for Stage 1, and another version of the code I heard unlocks 30 lives earlier in the Rising shop. Yep the Konami code is back and useful once more. Be sure to enjoy the default Stage 1 music cause that is just as badass in its own way. The original Stage 1 theme feels like the dawn of a new legend! Yeah Bahamut is super badass and Krystal is super badass. The DLC characters, Sayuri, Harley and Leviathan, have their differences (Sayuri turns the game into Strider, which is badass. This is like the only time Contra and Strider mechanics would cross paths).
   Everyone has multiple costume colors to choose from, some of the colors making them look like a different person! Yeah this is badass and what's even more badass is you can choose the SAME character, which is great because no one likes someone else hogging their favorite.
   Alright so you are starting to learn some of the basics and want to know how badass it plays. Hard Corps: Uprising evolves Contra mechanics, hanging on to the good stuff and adding really inspirational features and abilities. Additions like running, air dashing, double jumps, and bullet deflection blow the roof away! And you'll need those skills to survive, cause the baddies are more badass and dangerous than ever before. All of this and more adds more depth to the game, not only in terms of player movement but also from the enemy and boss design perspective. It creates more intense fights and extreme badassness!
   The weapons are hardcore as well, of course the spread, laser, crush/crash, and new version of ripple, and a modified version of a chargeable flame shot are included. Each has three levels of upgrades, and they visually and effectively get better as they are upgraded either by combining the same weapon with the same weapon drop, or upgrading in the Rising shop for a more immediate shortcut to their stronger versions. There are strategic uses to the more challenging weapons to master, but they all kick ass one way or another. The basic default shot has some great uses that's better than using harsh language! Hard Corps: Uprising uses the Dual Slot system that's well known. If you get hit, your equipped weapon disappears. A good strategy is to switch out the weapon you want to keep if you have a feeling you might get hit soon, then swap it back in when it's safe to unload the damage on the suckas!
   The characters, moves, music, weapons, stages and enemies are badass. The bosses and villains are extremely badass too! Leviathan is probably the greatest nemesis in Contra history. He is freaking hardcore and if you survive the first encounter, you've seen nothing yet! Tiberius is just as badass as Bahamut was in Hard Corps, if not more so. Tiberius stands as one of the most badass villains of all time! Players will be blown away by his performance!!!!!!!!!
   It's a war and adventure unlike anything else. Contra is channeled through every particle of Hard Corps: Uprising. You will feel like somersaulting out the window and air dashing back inside! You will have an over the top badass experience that makes the other Contras look like a tour in a meat factory (except Hard Corps; that's one big sister that can't be joked about). And yep, Uprising hasn't forgotten about the aliens. From Stage 1 all the way through Stage 8, it keeps getting better and more badass, but are you hardcore enough to get that far? Hard Corps: Uprising truly tests skills, but don't worry if Arcade mode is too hot for you to handle, Rising mode has your back.

   Hard Corps: Uprising also marks online co-op for the first time in the series, and of course local co-op returns. Co-op doubles the fun, but of course with something badass like this, your co-op friend has to be able to keep up. But if they run out of lives, they can borrow yours with a press of a single button anytime! These stages are long, epic and extremely BADASS, so toughen up and sharpen your skills! As you get better you will have more fun. Don't cry and try to learn to be badass and accept the challenge, and Hard Corps: Uprising will reward this with more badassness!!!!!! Success in Hard Corps: Uprising really makes you feel like you achieved something super badass!
   Yeah Hard Corps: Uprising is one of the largest and longest Contras of all time, the early stages included are long, epic and incredibly detailed with lots of enemies, optional and required platforming, minibosses, and much more! And every single stage is side-view, not overhead, so Uprising makes the most out of making every single stage superb and hardcore over-the-top fun! You will be shocked at where Uprising takes you, and the challenges ahead, and conquering it all is totally worth it. This is so badass that it's worth replaying! There is more replay value packed in this than a lot of campaigns out there. Also Uprising is loaded with ups, downs, lefts and rights. The stages are not a simple matter of moving left to right, there is so much to it and more badass moments, there is so much quality to it and for eight stages and given the length of each one, that's a whole lot considering most Contra games are six-seven stages tops and usually in some like Shin and Neo the last stage are boss fights. But even the eighth stage of Uprising is a complete epic and badass stage with unique layout and shocking moments, with boss fights on top of that, one of the most badass stages of all time! And you can see how each stage naturally connects to each other! So much badass detail and attention to design!
   Uprising also includes high quality anime endings just like the kickass opening video! These are the best looking and longest Contra endings of all time, and they look and are animated just as good as a proper anime! Each character has their own unique badass anime video during the credits, which is totally badass and you wonder when they will make a direct sequel! So much presentation and quality packed in a hardcore experience for a very low price tag! Quality action, quality online netcode, quality controls and presentation with badass Contra innovation that unites the classic badass style with it! Hard Corps: Uprising has set a new standard for hardcore!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hard Corps: Uprising is Insomnia's 2011 Game of the Year.