ReGurgitated? ReCycled? ReHashed?
There isn't much to begin with in terms of a story in the Contra universe. The heroes are just buff dudes with big guns and a whole lot of enemies to shoot. So when we get a game like Contra ReBirth, which tries to string together a story involving an outer-space warmonger trying to take over Japanese ruins in the Mexican desert, we should just let it slide and analyze what's important: Is it a Contra game, and does it play like the old "good" ones?
[image1]The answer to both those questions is yes, but unfortunately, it's too much like the old ones. The nomenclature "ReBirth" is completely misleading here - it would have worked much better if it was called Contra 5. Now that's assuming that the Contra franchise isn't dead to begin with and that this game plays exactly like Contra III: The Alien Wars on the Super Nintendo and last year's Contra 4 on the DS. Simply put, it's a side-scrolling action shooter with the occasional vertical section - you get a host of weapons to pick up, and just like any good Contra, you'll stick with the spreader gun.
As far as visuals go, ReBirth is schizophrenic. In the "story" panels between levels, it shows very detailed and crisp quasi-anime-inspired comic passages, while in the level themselves, the graphics are at a first generation Super Nintendo level of quality. Sure, it matches the visual quality of Contra III: Alien Wars, but it also leaves a lot to be desired when compared to that of Contra 4.
This visual slump is really disconcerting considering this is supposed to be a "ReBirth". Unfortunately, it doesn't feel anything like a rebirth, mainly because we just had a Contra sequel last year and this new game doesn't look, play, or feel different, and even worse so in some spots. The nostalgia factor worked very well for last year's Megaman 9 release, because Capcom knew exactly when to revive the main Megaman series with a retro-styled title. Contra ReBirth, however, just feels sloppily rushed at times, and not at all as well-timed as other retro revivals.
[image2]On the other hand, if you feel like you need more of the classic-styled Contra, ReBirth will hit that spot. It isn't a particularly long game by any stretch of imagination. It does feel a tad more user-friendly, due to the generous addition of infinite continues, so you will be able to complete this game if you simply persevere. If you're looking for bragging rights, you won't find them here. Like Contra 4, you get to choose which hero to play as, including a few unlockable characters along the way, but the differences don't go beyond a cosmetic swap.
All in all, it's easy to get carried away by this 1000 Wii Point Wiiware game. Contra ReBirth is a competent Contra game, but if you look at the 'ReBirth' in the title expecting to find updated visuals and new features as the name suggests, you are better off looking elsewhere.