Contra: Hard Corps looks and feels exactly like a Treasure game, before Treasure was born. A great solo or two player co-operative experience, hyperquick pace, relentless action, boss fights galore, kaleidoscopic visuals, wacky and inventive designs – these are the hallmarks of Treasure game design. These qualities shine so brightly in Treasure games like Gunstar Heroes and Alien Soldier, and it turns out these are all are present in the Megadrive/Genesis’s sole entry in the Contra series, Contra: Hard Corps. Continue reading
Cuphead has inspired me to reflect on my personal history with this wonderful genre. We’ll be covering heavyhitters like Contra, Gunstar Heroes, Metal Slug, as well as some more obscure entries. Introducing the classic sidescrolling run ‘n’ gun:
I grew up in the 32-bit era with only limited exposure to the 16- and 8-bit systems. As a result my first encounters with traditional run ‘n’ gun games were via the Wii’s Virtual Console. Here, I played two of the most iconic run ‘n’ guns ever made – Contra III and Gunstar Heroes. Let’s kick off this trip down memory lane with a by now classic debate, a mainstay of 16-bit console warring. Contra III vs Gunstar Heroes: which is better? Continue reading
This is one I’ve been waiting for, for many years it turns out. Not specifically for Cuphead per se, but for a follow up to my beloved Gunstar Heroes. Continue reading
While writing my recent post about the music of Gradius, I felt the need to experience the music in context. I’ve spent at least some time with each game in the series, but Gradius III has my favourite soundtrack and was the one I really wanted to sink my teeth into. Who could have known that such easy listening would accompany such a difficult game?! Gradius III is one of the hardest, most gruelling games out there, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Beyond a staggering difficulty, Gradius III sports some utterly baffling game design. But there’s a solid core of enjoyable gameplay in all the Gradius games and, thanks to that steady foundation, I was eventually able to “complete” it. Continue reading
For the past several weeks I’ve been in thrall to the Gradius series. The strategic power-up selection, the challenging levels, and the reward of downing a powerful boss – it’s a joy to play these games. Alongside Gradius there are also spin-offs that share the same DNA, most notably Salamander/Life Force and Parodius.
This post is dedicated to these games’ amazing tunes, all courtesy of Konami’s esteemed composers. Konami are perhaps best known music-wise for the Castlevania series. but Gradius is a neglected well of wonderful melodies and beautiful tunes. It’s unfortunate that Konami neglected the series after the mid-2000s, and that Gradius never had a talent like Michiru Yamane attached to the series to expand and extend its unique musical identity into the present era.
What makes the music of Konami’s shooters so special? TV Tropes has a great phrase that explains:
The bulk of Gradius’s most crowning songs accurately convey some sort of cosmic wonder.
This is a great way to kick us off, so I suggest we see how this bears out in practice! Continue? Continue reading