Contra ReBirth (WiiWare)

Game Review

Contra ReBirth Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Still separating the men from the boys.

The Contra series has always been one of gaming's greats: incredibly simple yet fun gameplay, top-notch design, and of course, what the games are most known for, a hard-as-nails difficulty level. After multiple failed attempts to create a good 3D Contra game, the DS recently got a brilliant new 2D entry that, surprisingly, wasn't developed by series creator Konami. They've now taken matters back into their own hands, but has Konami learned anything from WayForward's entry?

In Contra ReBirth, you once again take control of the original game's hero, Bill Rizer. His partner, Lance Bean, has gone missing and it's up to him and a character who will be unfamiliar to most (and who is apparently a samurai, although he looks almost identical to Bill and uses the same guns) named Genbei Yagyu. Although the story is completely unimportant and not very interesting to boot, it is told using anime-style images between each level that are pretty nice to look at.

After the short, skippable intro, you're immediately thrust into the action. With a remix of the first level theme from the original game blasting in the background, enemies will immediately come running at you, but as in all the previous games they're pretty weak — it's the bullets that some of the other types of enemies shoot you'll have to worry about dodging. As in all previous games, you'll die with a single hit from anything, so it's absolutely necessary that you dodge or kill everything you see.

Your character will start with a machine gun, but rather quickly pods will float onto the screen which drop stronger weapons when shot - You have the choice of a shotgun, laser or homing missiles, which each has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, the shotgun spreads out so you can hit a lot of enemies at once, but the laser shot doesn't disappear on contact — it'll go right through everything.

When you die, you'll lose the weapon you're holding, so that gives you even more reason to avoid getting hit. Unless, of course, you're playing on easy mode — then you'll keep your weapon no matter what! You can hold one weapon in reserve at any time, so on the higher difficulty levels, a useful tactic can be to switch to your weaker one right before you think you're going to die in order to keep the stronger one.

Some conveniences from Contra III, the game ReBirth seems most inspired by, have been omitted; there are no more smart bombs that eliminate all on-screen enemies, and it's no longer possible to hold both your weapons at the same time for double firepower. You'll just have to deal with the enemies one gun at a time!

Much like Gradius ReBirth, the game is surprisingly short. There's only five stages, but on the plus side, all of them are action-packed. Previous games sometimes broke up the action by including levels with completely different gameplay (such as the second and third game's overhead stages), which for the most part were fairly easy to beat, but none of those appear here. At the end of each stage you'll usually fight a mini-boss and stage boss in quick succession, usually together with something unexpected happening; how awesome is it to fight a giant worm in the middle of space while standing on moving debris from a spaceship that just blew up?

Thankfully, there's a bit of replay value. Beating the game on Easy and Normal will unlock two extra characters to play as (neither of them Lance Bean, strangely enough), while beating Hard actually unlocks an even more difficult Nightmare setting, in which every enemy you kill will leave behind a blue ring that instantly flies in your direction!

The levels all obviously include little nods to the previous games in the series; level two is almost a direct copy of the first stage from Contra III, while other sections of the game are bound to give you flashbacks of very similar locations from the other games. Naturally, a few of the series' final bosses also return to make your life miserable in the final stage.

Of course, Contra wouldn't be Contra without a 2-player mode. ReBirth is no exception, and it's just as chaotic as always — it can't get much more awesome than running around as two manly guys with giant guns mowing down seemingly endless amounts of aliens and robots.

Konami has once again opted for a very retro look for the game, which has worked out very nicely. There's a clear resemblance to Contra III in terms of graphics, but everything looks nice and smooth instead of pixelated, and the characters all have many more frames of animation. The music consists of remixes of old Contra tunes along with a few new songs, suiting the action perfectly.


Gradius ReBirth was a bit too short and easy compared to previous Gradius games (especially because previous games in the series already were pretty short), but with Contra ReBirth, Konami has struck the balance just right: there's only five levels, but they're all decently sized and quite challenging to get through. Once you think you've perfected your skills, you can try and see if you can make it through Nightmare mode, and of course, 2-player mode is always fun. For just 1000 Wii Points this is really a great deal and proof that Konami still has what it takes to make a good Contra game of their own.

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User Comments (83)



JonWahlgren said:

Hah, wishful thinking. I think CS is slated for October or so.

Anyway, just finished Arkham Asylum, perfect time to get a little Contra going. Can't wait for Monday.



pixelman said:

WHAT! October?! Nooooooo, I'll die of waiting if it's that long.

Actually, that gives me more time to buy some other games I should have, like PSIV, MM9, SMB, WoG, and this.



Stargazer said:

Ya know, Gradius Rebirth was pretty short, but the stages had many different variations and mixing up different ship-types and difficulty levels made it fresh for a long time.

I'll probably get bored of Contra much more quickly, but for $8 and co-op it's still a must-download for me.



Cheezy said:

Unless a good DSiWare game or an N64 VC game comes out, I shall buy this...



Slapshot said:

Nice. The one complaint I have with Contra 4 DS is that it has too many levels for the high difficulty that is always there and I love so much. But its not suppose to be a long game.



drdark said:

I like this game, but I have one major niggle.
I remember in Contra III, 2-Player Mode, if one of the players lost all their lives, there was some button to press so they could "borrow" an extra life from their partner. There doesn't seem to be a way to do this in Contra Rebirth, so the player who lost all their lives has to hang about for ages till the other player loses all their lives and "continues" before they can play again.



RurouniTeeter said:

@12. Nintendo-Naut
Have you not played much Contra? There really isn't much levels in Contra anyway, and its WiiWare, don't expect toooooo much... It's $10 for a reason.



Chrono_Cross said:

Just because its on Wiiware doesn't mean there can't be more to Contra Rebirth since Contra 3 on SNES has 6 levels and Contra 4 on DS (I believe) has 8.

And anyway Nintendo Naut 5 stags is a lot for Contra considering all the times your about to die. And it takes even longer for you to master the stages/bosses/weapons and then you have co-opp which can add more replay value and hilarious FAIL calls when your friends die like a punk lol.



Steamboat_Willie said:

I'm a huge Contra fan. Monday can't come soon enough. In the meantime, I just downloaded New Adventure Island and I'm having a blast. I forgot how great this series was.



JonWahlgren said:

@chris3116: So is NSMB and Void. Well, Void might happen this month, who knows. I heard October for CS, but that release date is so slippery it could go either way.



jbrodack said:

this looked good. I think this has more appeal than gradius rebirth since most of those games were already similar and people might have actually wanted something more different. however, people have been wanting more classic snes/nes styled contra and thats what this delivers.
is the laser actually useful in this? I never found it useful before and would use any other weapon.



Zork2 said:

I saw a speedrun on youtube and this game looks like good Contra. It's too bad they didn't add four player co-op.



KDR_11k said:

is the laser actually useful in this? I never found it useful before and would use any other weapon.

It's extremely damaging, great for bosses.



Dazza said:

I've really been enjoying this, admittedly I have been playing on easy with the lives cranked up to the max! If you liked Contra III on the SNES then you'll love this.



JamieO said:

Excellent Review Marcel, I like the idea that some levels represent a nostalgic throwback to previous Contras, particularly Contra III, and the ability to unlock new characters. It’s a shame about them leaving out the smart bombs and double firepower, but I imagine that you can still juggle between two weapons. The smart bomb decision seems a bit inexplicable, like Nintendo leaving feathers out of later Mario Karts. I’m looking forward to hearing those Contra remixes, too.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter ( Jamie_iPodTouch ), will know that I’ve been blathering on about looking forward to Contra Rebirth for a while now.
I am really pleased that it has lived up to expectations and earned a Nintendo Life 8/10 stars.
I am hyped up about playing it even more now, these are the best gaming times, reading a cracking review and waiting patiently to play the game myself.
Have lots of fun with this one, Euro Wii owning ‘Run and Gun’ fans, it is obviously a treat. I will watch this comments board for further reflections on all of your alien blasting & blobby bullet dodging, fun times.
In the meantime I will continue to be patient and cross my fingers that it receives that US Labor Day (Monday Sept 7th) release date, tomorrow.
Thank you @Drake



Gizmo said:

Why so short? =(

Because of that I think I buy the DS game instead of the WiiWare one.



KDR_11k said:

The DS game costs several times as much and the individual levels are much less fun.

I appreciate the reduction in complexity, is the dual weapon jump really useful anyway? I found that focused fire tends to have more of an effect. The smart bombs weren't in C4 either I think, they're not necessary either way.



Betagam7 said:

I wonder why they left out double firepower when the classic "pose" is included on the character select screen.
Slightly disappointed to have my fears that they've basically remade a level from Contra 3 instead of making all new content. Contra: Rehash?



JamieO said:

@KDR_11k I quite like smart bombs as a last resort , they give me a bit of power back, a clear the screen option. DS Contra 4 did have smart bombs, but they were pretty limited.
I also missed not being able to call up the ESWAT car in Streets of Rage 2. lol.



That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

@Gizmo: The games are completely different. The DS game is a bit bolder in design, and the stages are incredibly hard. Great game in my oppinion.

The Wiiware game is more traditional but fun to play. And boy, the later stages are hard to beat! The 5 stages are pretty long and as the review says,, there are minibosses and stuff to keep you from compleating the game easily.

@Betagam7: The game has clearly been designed to be played with Wiimote only.With only 2 +1 (shake) buttons dualwield and smartbomb had to go.

And it´s NOT a rehash.

All levels are original, but just like every game in the series some elements in the background remains the same. There are citylevels in both this, CIII, harcorps and Shattered Soldier. I expect to see a junglelevel and an alien lair later in the game and that´s fine as long as the stagelayout is completely new.

By the way, try pressing fire+start at the titlescreen.



Betagam7 said:

I count 3 buttons on my wiimote: A, 1 and 2. Surely A could have been used for a smartbomb.



Jockolantern said:

Absolute must-buy for me. Been waiting for this one for a while considering how long Japan has had it but I can't wait to play it here in the next couple days.

And for the five gazillionth time, people: Just because a game is short does not make it bad. I get truly tired of this nonsensical equation, especially by virtue of how "short" every Contra game has been.



Supermarioman said:

Short????? It's freaking Contra, its never short on the harder modes or even some of the easy ones! Why? Because your gonna die about a hundred time!



GN0LAUM said:


Amen. This attitude still surprises me too. Would you rather pay $60 for a disc game that lasts 14 hrs and is crappy to play (which is pretty much what 75% of all "core" games are these days), one where you play it once then put it down forever, or $10 for multi-player, old-school, highly repayable bliss?

Ask yourself this, why is it I still play Mario Bros. 3 more often than any current generation game? Sometimes the best things come in small packages. Can't wait to pick this up!



Omega said:

@aaoronfuhrer: No. But I have heard that you can press + and 1 and 2 on the title screen to enter debug mode where anything is possible. Haven't tried, though.



JamieO said:

Sorry @KDR_11k , my DS Contra 4 smart bomb comment 29 was pretty vague.
I've been playing Contra 4 today, in preparation for Contra ReBirth.
It has smart bombs in rare and limited spots, when I first played this game I thought they were useless icons (they look like empty golden eagle weapon slots). However, if you collect them, they will destroy all basic enemies on screen.
Contra developers are rarely that kind and they have placed these smart bomb collectibles in such awkward places, that I often die trying to collect them! lol



StarBoy91 said:

I enjoyed Contra III: The Alien Wars/Super Probotector: Alien Rebels to the fullest extent (though I still need to beat Easy mode). This game I'll hold into consideration, 'cause I love challenge and am willing to dish out 1000 Wii Points to try this game.
[Now if only I had a Wii Points card ]



motang said:

Definitely getting this one...and it comes out tomorrow and tomorrow being Labor Day in the US...it's going to be Contra ReBirth day in my house.



Ristar42 said:

Its actually easier than most Contra games, I managed to get through all 5 levels on easy (with 7 lifes) pretty quick. Its also therefore less frustrating though, so not a bad thing. Its very stripped down compared to Contra 4, but overall I think its a pretty great update - solid arcade action, thankfully (occasionally) they do make 'em like they used to!



calculon said:

This game is waaaaay to easy on Normal. I completed the first three missions in under 30 minutes and I've seen a speed run finish Hard in under 20 minutes with only 1 continue on the last boss.

The graphics on this game suck. Not only do they lack detail but they're also kind of blurry - almost like they've been scaled with a filter. The music is once again functional but un-exceptional and the sounds effects just about do the trick.

The gameplay is fairly fast paced and true to the series but the bosses: dear god they are some of the dullest creations I've ever seen and as far as I can tell, there's at least one re-hash. Not that any I've come across have presented much of a challenge.

I'm in two frames of mind about completing the game. Do I want to to complete the game just to justify spending an extra 200 points on an inferior game to Aliens Wars or should I leave it and have a laugh with my friends at yet another quick and dirty remake? Why Nintendo are seemingly dropping the VC in favor of subjecting us to half-arsed rehashes is beyond me. I'm surprised this doesn't have DLC at 200 points a pop to buy the extra characters instead of unlocking them in game.

Final verdict: An un-acceptably easy and short addition to the Contra series with poor production values and little replayability once you've beaten the game once. 6/10 (7/10 tops if you use the usual fanboy glasses)



PaakType said:

Minor error in the review:

"a new character . . . named Genbei Yagyu."

Actually, he's not new. He was the second playable character in the massively underrated Neo Contra (although he was called Jaguar Genbei in that game).

But yeah, the game sounds well worth checking out.



odd69 said:

After spending my afternoon with this, I must say, for me this IS my favorite contra game. I do play on easy mode though,and of course i die alot,but this is the most forgiving Contra game ever.Why do i think this is the best contra ever made? Because it's the most balanced in difficulty. I agree the graphics do stink that's why i give it 9/10



JamieO said:

I want Wario Land Shake It!, Klonoa, Muramasa on Wii and KOF XII, BlazBlue, Ghostbusters, Battle Fantasia on PS3... etc etc...&...I really want WiiWare Contra ReBirth.
"You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes... you'll get what you need".
You know the chime when NES Fire Mario headers coin blocks to download a new game. He gets more and more frantic the closer you get to completing the download. It is magic that isn't it?
Goodbye comments board, hello Contra ReBirth!
I will return to join back in on the discussion later (possibly, much, much later!).



JamieO said:

Yay, I've finished Contra Rebirth on Easy and it's everything I hoped it would be. Area 3 is cool, mode 7 enemies are presented like the opposite of Turtles in Time (i.e. they fly into the screen rather than being flung out).
Easy level is actually very fair for a Contra game, generous even, especially by letting you keep hold of your weapons after you die and providing unlimited continues. There is no 'Barrier' collectible this time though, correct me if I am wrong fellow Nintendo Lifers.
Do not be put off downloading this, if you think it will be too difficult. I think it is the most accessible Contra yet.
Those after a challenge can simply up the difficulty and limit you continues. Plus, I am happy with 5 action packed levels, even if the game is short. Late '80s arcade games often had a similar lifespan, it was all about the replayability and I already know that I'll repeatedly be going back to this one.



Stargazer said:

Seriously, I like Metal Slug a little, but the level design, enemy placement, lack of diagonal shooting, and extreme "eat my quarters" difficultly near the end annoys me.

The graphics and explosions are nice, but it lacks finesse.



Adamant said:

"Gradius ReBirth was a bit too short and easy compared to previous Gradius games (especially because previous games in the series already were pretty short), but with Contra ReBirth, Konami has struck the balance just right: there's only five levels, but they're all decently sized and quite challening to get through."

Eh, I wouldn't say that's completely correct. Contra Rebirth is much easier than earlier entires in the series, too.



Villain said:

Things that are really hot about this game:

1. The game uses Metal Slug-like graphics at times to give it a sleek, comedic look at times. And it really looks lovely!

2. The sound isn't made to sound 8-bit, which is all the rage these days. Instead, they go for a Genesis-like sound! That is, to me, REALLY hot...to have the guts to emulate the Genesis sound chip despite the Genesis sound being one of the most disliked of the 16-bit era. I love it.



Villain said:

Also, the fact that there's unlimited continues should be remembered. The game's not neccesarily easier just because of that. Remember this, folks.

But yeah, it wasn't THAT hard at all...I agree to that.



WolfRamHeart said:

As much as I enjoy a good Contra game I decided to pass on Contra: ReBirth. From what I'm reading here it sounds like the game is just way too easy and short. After playing Contra 4, I would probably just come away disappointed. I just hope that WayForward makes a Contra 5.



Adamant said:

Too easy, yeah, somewhat, but I wouldn't say it's too short. It's 5 full levels (none of that overhead sillyness from Contra 3) of Contra action for 10$. I'd say that's quite fitting.
While it definitely isn't as good as Contra 4, it's still very much worth your money.



Jockolantern said:

I had a damn good time with this game and I still have three more difficulties to go (and from the taste I had of Hard, it should be no short amount of before I actually complete all of them). Good times killing hordes upon hordes of alien scum in classic 16-bit form... with Genesis-esque music, nonetheless. Really was not expecting that. Still, they did a great job with all of it. 8 / 10 is a very well-deserved, accurate score.



That_Guy_from_Faxana said:

Eh... this game can be really easy or hard as nails, depending on what options you choose. Okay, so there´s unlimited continues, but the enemy fire of the harder levels is frantic! And if it´s too hard for you, just turn on MUTEKI mode... that´s what I did by accident =P



tkubas1 said:

Alright I've herd some people COMPLAINING! about the graphics! They're great! there supposed to look like an SNES game because its a Rebirth. But its a tad better than a SNES game because it has no slowdown and the edges are smoother. 10/10 Just like contra III.



Adamant said:

Hard mode is about as hard as it should be, actually (though level 4 is still oddly easy). So yeah.



Vertigo said:

I've tried + 1 and 2 together on the title screen and the 1P/2P/Options menu screen and it doesn't work for me. US version. Anyone?



Vertigo said:

Played it for a little while, credit fed up to level 3.
The game itself is ok although levels feel short and it doesn't have the inventiveness of Contra 3.
The popcorn enemy design is so very bland and everything looks quite chunky, even though there's double the resolution to play with.
All a bit odd really, but it's still Contra and it's not broken by having 3D bits that may or may not be deadly depending on the angle.
From what I've played so far, Contra 3 plays and looks better, even with half the resolution



Bass_X0 said:

2/5 in NGamer. Their main complaints of the game is that you get hit by things you don't see in the mass destruction, no online leaderboards, no saves and only a two-player mode for replayability. They recommend Gunstar Heroes over it.



letsplay said:

So far Contra is very exciting. Can't wait to try 2 play mode. Love the graphics. Some spots remind me of Contra 3.



vampirelich said:

I have played contra 3 on the snes before, but have yet to download it on the wii, im debating on rebirth or alien wars?



Adamant said:

Ow, NGamer lost some credibility there. Online leaderboards? People play Contra for points? Saves? The game takes like 15 minutes to beat. And "only two players"? Come on. As for the "getting hit by things you can't see" complaint, all it takes is to pay attention to enemies that can fire projectiles when they are on-screen.



Vertigo said:

I haven't yet been killed by anything I couldn't see. The bullets are brightly-coloured and glowy. Idiots. Conveniently, I have recently cancelled my subscription to NGamer anyway, it wasn't doing much for me.



Ricardo91 said:

So with all these "complaints" about the easier difficulty, would this be a good entry point into the series then? Cuz I played a demo of Contra 4 a while back and barely lasted 10 seconds.



Vertigo said:

Ricardo91: I would definitely advise you to try out Contra 3 on the SNES. It's the high point of the series for me, followed closely by the first one. I didn't enjoy Contra 4 due to the cramped controls and DS screen gap. Were it on a big screen system I would probably have liked it more. Contra Rebirth is definitely worth $10 though and if you have $8 more, download Contra 3 as well.



Rabspat said:

Maybe it's just me, but on the whole, I thought Gradius ReBirth was a better game. There's just more variation and content. 5 playable ships rather than 4 characters that are completely identical, save for one. Multiple loops where the levels actually change... and better music and graphics. Also, the score attack mode was brilliant.

Contra ReBirth isn't bad... but as far as Contra games go, it's really not that great. One thing that confuses me is how the game is a "tribute" to previous Contra games... when Contra 4 already did that, and did it better,

Once again, Contra Rebirth isn't BAD, but in my opinion, there are much better games that you can spend your Wii points on. Hell, you could save those points for Cave Story, Night Game, or La Mulana... 3 games that are guaranteed to be awesome.



jwl said:

Looks great, but should one buy this or the Contra III first?



WaveGhoul said:

LostWinds, Mega Man 9, World of Goo! and now THIS, hell ya!
Personally i totaly love the look and enemy/boss designs in this game. They're more creative, colorful and more surreal than they were in Contra III for the Snes, which of course was a solid game no doubt...But there was just something about it I didn't like...I prefer the Nes Original.

Anyways! I'll definitly be getting this soon, can't wait to play it! Hopefully we'll be seing more Retro WiiWare titles in the future. I'm dieing for another 8-bit Mega Man game...After all, Mega Man 9 was my most anticipated game for the Wii, and man was it great! I was so excited and felt like a kid again back in the glorious days of the 80's with my Nes hehe.

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