Welcome to your own private bullet hell.
There's one thing that should be made abundantly clear about Hard Corps: Uprising right off the bat: This is a new Contra game. Don't call it a comeback or an homage; it's just new Contra. Plain and simple. You can put whatever name you want on it for legal reasons, but a spade's a spade. But, oh what a spade it is.
[image1]If you're a fan of the classic side-scrolling bullet-hell fun that the series has always provided, you'll be glad to know that it's all still prevalent in the newest installment. This is the tough-as-nails Contra reboot you've been waiting for. The only problem is, there are some points where it's not just tough, it's downright cheap. Particularly the boss on the train level. The level is beatable, though entirely frustrating. And in true action-grit form, all levels offer a unique locale along with specific challenges for each mission.
Along with the traditional gameplay of Arcade mode, the new Rising mode adds a fresh twist by introducing unlockables and upgrades, such as extra lives and the ability to deflect bullets. Trying to unlock all the upgrades adds a decent amount of replay value to the game overall as well.
Arc System Works has not only done a good job tweaking the challenge, they've also added brilliant anime-style visuals. Characters movements are fluid and the color palette is varied and vibrant. It's the same hand-drawn style that you find in their other games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue and it works superfluously with the 2D action of Hard Corps.
[image2]But not everything is perfect and lovely. There are a few flaws. Like I said earlier, sometimes stuff gets downright cheap and you've just got to deal with it. Arcade mode seems like nothing more than a moot point or overly sadistic challenge for the truly self-loathing. And while there are some cool new moves that you can pull off, the control scheme can require that your fingers be extremely dexterous, such as when you face the first level's mini-boss and find yourself having to lock your firing into the proper direction while maneuvering a motorcycle.
But even with these minor frustrations, this is a solid shooter that any fan of the Contra series would be glad to play, even if it doesn't have the Contra name on it. If you're up for an enjoyable, yet difficult, gaming session, give this one a shot.