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Analysis | Contra: Operation Galuga modernizes the classic without losing its essence
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The biggest challenge when recreating a classic is being able to combine modernity and nostalgia, in other words, an almost impossible mission to make the title palatable to new audiences without losing what made it a landmark of its time. With Contra: Operation Galuga, WayForward got the job done and delivered a product that will please fans, but that perhaps needed a little more time in the oven to have a greater impact on newcomers.

Visuals are weak point

Although Operation Galuga is a recreation with certain freedoms and takes elements from several games in the series, the first impression comes from the visuals and, unfortunately, it was the part that I liked least.

The original sought the most realistic look possible for the very few pixels available at the time, even as it was inspired by fans of 80s action films and tried to reach their fans. WayForward took this into consideration and used a mix of stylization with more detailed 3D models, but the result is very generic and does not bring a cool, authorial brand to the game.

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In some stages there are action sequences in the story that are more elaborate, such as the crash of a helicopter in the first stage, but apart from these sporadic moments, the visuals as a whole have little appeal and do not achieve either nostalgia or modernity in good doses.

Modernized gameplay

The first big new thing here is to start with the double jump and a small boost, which makes the movement, now omnidirectional instead of just eight directions, much more frantic and full of layers when defending yourself from enemy shots. Some veterans may turn up their noses and think that the difficulty, one of the hallmarks of the original games, has become much more generous in this version because of this. However, there is the possibility of playing with all the classic mechanics, including the original aiming in eight directions.

There are several other new features in various systems. There is now a life bar, for example, that allows you to take more shots before dying. Collected weapons go straight to the empty inventory. All of this made the game much more modern and, I think, didn't hurt the essence of Contra by letting everyone customize the challenge as they see fit.

Weapons also received some new features. Now there is a system to improve them by collecting one of the same type. The Laser ricochets, the missiles gain more number and power, the flamethrower gains a much greater distance. When receiving damage, however, the character loses this improvement and upon death he loses the weapon completely. The weapons are all useful, fun and very powerful, with more or less effectiveness depending on the stage and type of enemy. Those looking for higher scores will choose and swap weapons in order to maximize this potential.

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Operation Galuga's biggest addition is still missing, which was the perk store. With the points that are earned in each phase, more or less depending on the difficulty chosen, it is possible to buy various advantages for your characters. Among the options are some that change the game little, such as a specific character ability that increases jump height, or some monstrous ones in terms of power, such as new weapons already coming at their advanced level or no longer losing the level acquired after suffering damage.

Thinking about each person's experience and preserving a certain level of difficulty, it is only possible to equip two of these advantages in each raid. Combining them intelligently with the character of your choice is the challenge before the stages and what dictates the variation of combat in replays, which is far from enough to keep players engaged.

Content could be better

As it is very fun and challenging, it is a sin that Contra: Operation Galuga has so little content. The story is very short and lasts a few hours, being silly and acting more as a backdrop to shoot and explode enemies, not being anything remarkable.

When finishing the campaign, the player will have some new characters to play with, but they are all very similar in terms of gameplay and do little to change the experience. Each one has an ability to be released in the advantage store, but it's nothing that changes much, especially since it has to be in one of the two advantage spaces.

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Apart from that, that leaves Arcade mode and challenges. In Arcade, it's basically playing the levels without story mode in an attempt to go as far as possible, to earn even more points to spend. The challenges set a maximum time limit and other smaller objectives for the phases, also in exchange for points.

There is that feeling of lack of something more robust to mark this return as something greater and justify the players' full-price purchase.

Conclusion

The highlight of Contra: Operation Galuga is its gameplay, which has been modernized and has not lost the essence of the original. Everything added is positive and can be completely ignored by veterans looking for the most raw and original experience. The package as a whole lacks content and could be better seen by newcomers if it were more careful with the visuals.

Pros

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  • Weapon system is robust and fun
  • Challenge level can be customized for different types of players
  • Modernization did not lose the essence

Cons

  • Visuals leave a lot to be desired and fall into the generic
  • Scarce content and few hours of replay

Rating: 7.0/10.0

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A copy of the game for PC (Steam) was made available by Konami for the preparation of this analysis

Analysis | Contra: Operation Galuga modernizes the classic without losing its essence

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Analysis | Contra: Operation Galuga modernizes the classic without losing its essence

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