Contra: Operation Galuga Preview

Contra: Operation Galuga Preview

Contra: Rogue Corps was a bizarre and experimental overhead, twin-stick shooter that nobody wanted from 2019. It seemingly spelled doom for the franchise thanks to its alienating premise, low-quality visuals, and 30 FPS parity across all platforms. Thankfully, this enduring run-and-gun series is getting another shot at redemption with Contra: Operation Galuga, and it seems like it will play things much safer.

Contra doesn’t need to be complex to be enjoyable. All you need is big guys with huge machine guns doing flips and shooting up some H.R. Giger-esque monsters on a 2D plane. While there is room for some levels to be overhead or behind Bill Rizer and Lance Bean on occasion, the core module of the game should be a straightforward run-and-gun action game with some bullet-hell elements.

Konami has re-enlisted Warforward to develop the next Contra. They developed the very solid Contra 4 on Nintendo DS back in 2007. This was a long time ago and Wayforward has changed since then. Contra: Operation Galuga has a good chance of being great. Does Wayforward still have it in them? I previewed the Contra: Operation Galuga to find out!

Contra: Operation Galuga’s preview build on Nintendo Switch does not make a good first impression. Starting the game initiates a surprisingly long load time, only to be treated with a very crudely made cutscene. The characters are shown in close-up, which is very unusual since the point of view for these kinds of games is traditionally very distant.

Seeing character models that were not meant to be viewed so closely emphasizes the shortcomings of impressionistic textures. There is also some heinous-looking pixelation that is prominently featured on Bill’s deltoid. It is front and center, making it impossible to not see. Bill and Lance resemble Contra action figures more than anything else.

After a tedious load screen and getting over the plastic-like graphics, it’s time to go stick it to the Red Falco… only to be horrified by the unbelievably delayed inputs. Contra: Operation Galuga feels very sticky to play. There is very noticeable latency in the controls when jumping and crouching.

This is a very fast-paced shooter so having responsive controls is a must for enjoyable playability. On other platforms, Contra: Operation Galuga probably plays fine, but on Switch, it feels terrible. Hopefully, the final release will smooth out the rocky frame rate and the laggy gameplay.

It isn’t clear what engine Operation Galuga uses, but it seems like it is probably Unity. It has all the hallmarks of a Unity game running on Switch specs: the muddy bump mapping, garish post-processing effects, and flat lighting. Getting past the lackluster visuals and spotty controls, I was able to see some potential in this game.

The core is true to Contra and Wayforward even manages to introduce a few twists on the conventions that fans would know. Fighting the big alien monster at the end is a familiar sight for Contra veterans, but now there are threatening elements in the foreground to account for, as well as some new attack patterns.

The demo only features Bill and Lance, but the final game boasts many more. There is a perk system that allows players to customize their playstyle and this compounds the fact that there are characters with their bespoke traits unique to them. This will undoubtedly foster replays like a good Contra game would.

The power-ups like the spread gun or homing missiles can now get upgraded. The heroes no longer die in one hit to make up for the increased difficulty and there is a feature to overclock your gun for a devastating attack that consumes the weapon.

All of these additions are welcomed and imply that the final game may end up having a pretty high skill ceiling when players master the mechanics.

Everything you’d want from an ultimate Contra game seems like it’s going to be in Contra: Operation Galuga. Unless the Switch version gets improved upon release, this could be the best Contra game if you play it on any other platform.

Contra: Operation Galuga is set to launch on Windows PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch on March 12, 2024, in North America.

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A youth destined for damnation.

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