contra review

Contra: Operation Galuga Review – Runnin’ And Gunnin’

Classic Contra for the modern era

The newest entry in a series with a spotty past, WayForward is once again taking the lead with the latest Contra game – Contra: Operation Galuga. A thorough re-imagining of the original NES and Arcade Contra game, Galuga keeps the core gameplay and setting of its namesake while modernising the presentation and gameplay systems, adding new characters and throwing in a storyline to tie it all together.

contra review

There are a few modes to play with in Galuga, but in all you’ll be running, jumping and shooting your way through eight levels, each with legions of bad dudes and boss encounters to deal with. Story Mode is pretty standard fare, allowing you to run through the game’s levels and continuing from checkpoints when you get a Game Over, eventually seeing through the whole story. Arcade mode is similar, but challenges you to complete as much of the game as possible without hitting a game over. You can still continue, however your score will be higher if you complete more levels without failing.

There’s also a challenge mode which sets you specific parameters to meet in levels as a fun way to eke some more gameplay from the core experience. The action is chaotic with shots from enemies and from your own weaponry routinely all over the screen. Being able to track your own position and move your character around the chaos is a skill you’ll absolutely need to develop for success here.

contra review

Thankfully as chaotic as things get, the game controls with fantastic responsiveness so once you have the hang of things you can mostly command your character precisely where you want them to be. You’ve got a fairly straightforward repertoire of jumps, double jumps and a character specific move like Bill’s dash, but keeping it relatively uncomplicated means controls rarely get overwhelming. Given how much else you need to keep track of, it’s good that controls are simple and reliable.


There’s a small but focused supply of special weapons you can collect during missions, all classics from Contra heritage. There’s of course the well-loved Spread Shot which fires multiple projectiles in an arc in front of your character. There’s a flamethrower which has limited range but does high damage, a Homing weapon which launches volleys of missiles around the screen which all home in on whatever target is closest and a few others. Each weapon can be upgraded by picking up a second icon of the same kind, boosting firepower or changing its behaviour slightly. In this Contra you can pick up two special weapons at a time and switch between them at will, a welcome addition compared to the one-weapon-at-a-time limitation in the original game. It adds a welcome layer of strategy and choice without overcomplicating things.

contra review

One of the other gameplay additions in this new entry is the addition of special weapon overloads. At any point while you have a special weapon equipped, you can choose to destroy it in exchange for a special attack. The spread shot fills the screen with shots which are fantastic for clearing a busy area, the homing weapon creates a couple of little flying drones that help out with firing at enemies for a while, others give you temporary shields, and so on. The game reminds you regularly to use these, which is good because I often forgot they existed. When I did remember though they came in super handy. You never have to worry too much about losing a special weapon either as they’re generally in regular supply during stages and bosses.

Contra is well known as a series with a high level of challenge, however this new entry has made some changes so that more players might have a good time. You can choose to have multiple hit points per life rather than the old one hit kill, and if you do this you can purchase perks as you play which give you more hits per life. You can play with a boosted amount of lives, purchase other perks to selectively boost characters or weapons according to your preferences, and adjust the overall difficulty. There are also characters you can unlock as you play who will have their own unique moves and even adjusted weapon behaviour. There is still an immense challenge to be found here, but if you’d rather a more casual, fun experience you’ll find something to like here too.

contra review

I found I had mixed reactions when considering the game’s presentation. The characters read to me almost like moving action figures, which looks decent enough but I didn’t find them particularly inspired personally. I loved the level designs though. It was always exciting to get to a new level to see the fresh environments I’d be barreling through. Particular highlights for me were later stages, a full bio-mechanical H.R. Giger-style Alien homage full of off-brand face huggers, xenomorphs and other horrifying creatures that look right at home in an alien invasion.

The bosses too are a highlight. It’s awesome to see designs from various Contra classics re-imagined for this new visual style, and they were great fun to learn and overcome. Music to my ears takes a bit of a back seat, given my attention while playing was focused on the chaos of what was going on, but if you find a chance to listen you’ll find some fun renditions of classic tunes. The electric guitar menu intro for example sets the tone brilliantly.

contra review

Multiplayer is a massive pull in Contra games, and the same is true here. Up to two players can play the game locally and co-operatively in Story mode, while Arcade mode allows for up to four people to join the fray. Enemy layouts change depending on the amount of players, and it seemed like boss endurance scaled up as well to keep the challenge reasonable against increased firepower. If you’ve got a mate and an afternoon to spare, Operation Galuga would make for an awesome way to spend it.

contra review
Contra: Operation Galuga brings the essential Contra experience into the modern era. It retains the classic’s white knuckle challenge, awesome level designs, boss creativity and firepower while adding some modern touches to make the game palatable and enjoyable by more people. It’s not particularly long, but playing through once has never been the draw of a Contra game. It’s a game that begs to be re-played and perfected. If you’ve ever been curious to try Contra, this is a great way to get into the franchise.
Satisfying and adjustable challenge
Responsive controls
Cool boss encounters
Interesting environments
Chaos on screen can be hard to follow sometimes
Visual style a little plain