So Hard Corps Uprising is your prequel to Contra: Hard Corps and was brought to you by Arc System Works. The game is, just as all Contra before it, a side-scrolling platformer/shooter, and is really freaking hard. Keep in mind, I’ve never played a Contra game before, so the jump to hardcore was not easy for me.

The gameplay is pretty standard. You run, you shoot, and you kill dudes. The game reminds me a bit of Metroid, from the side-scrolling shooter aspect of it, and a bullet-hell shmup, in how crazy it is. Every time you kill an enemy, you get .05 added to your score multiplier, which you keep running by shooting and killing enemies. Now you can take the game at a slow pace, play carefully, and try not to die, but I found the game much more rewarding if you move quickly, seeing as there are always enemies constantly spawning whether you’re standing in place, or running as fast as you can. Just keep in mind, the game is vicious, and if you don’t pay attention, you’ll be out of lives before you know it.

Now there are two game modes to choose from: Arcade Mode and Rising Mode. In Rising Mode, the crazy points you collect all get saved as your currency, which you can then use in the store to upgrade your character. The upgrades include more health in your health bar, more lives per continue, and stronger weapons when you pick up a weapon upgrade. When you start up Arcade Mode, it is just a straight-forward, harder Contra game. No store and no upgrades to purchase.

If you really care about story, you are looking in the wrong place. You have two characters, and the majority of what they are feeling is expressed in long textualHard Corps Uprising descriptions of the upcoming mission on the loading screen. The basic gist of it is the Common Wealth, led by a man named Tiberius, who is clearly a badass because of both his name, and the fact that he walks with a cane.

Also, don’t forget there is both local, and online co-op, both of which work great. You will just have to learn to share weapon-drops, but at least the framerate stays good. Speaking of how the game looks, it definitely has an anime feel to it. All of the characters are sprites, while the environment and bosses are polygonal. The two play together well, and overall the game looks good, and runs in a silky smooth 1080p.

Hard Corps Now lets talk about the bad. Voice acting is pretty god awful, especially from the female character, Krystal, and pretty much all of the enemy characters. Also, the music is very forgettable. The song that plays in the opening movie is pretty good, but again, that is the only time you will ever hear it. As well, there is a terrible exploit to the game. Simple enemy foot soldiers come from each side of the screen every couple of seconds or so, so if you are patient, you can wait and shoot left, then right, over and over again until you have a 100x multiplier. This way, you can easily get infinite points to use in the game at any time you like. Big design flaw that should have been left out.

Overall, the package is pretty great. The game is 1200 Space Bucks, so it’ll run you some money, but if you are a Contra fan, this has been built from the ground-up for you. The game is maybe 4-5 hours long, with tons of replay value for you and your friends, as well as unlockable characters to try out. The best way to put it is this is a Contra game for Contra fans, simple as that.

Title : Hard Corps: Uprising
Format : XBLA
Developer : Arc System Works
Publisher : Konami
Release Date : 02/16/11

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*Konami provided SlimGamer.com with a promo code for a review copy.