Jahanzeb Khan
19 Mar, 2011

Hard Corps: Uprising Review

360 Review | It's Hard Core.
The Contra series holds the reputation of being one of the most brutally challenging and unforgiving video games franchises ever conceived, but at the same time the Contra games also hold the reputation of being one of the most addictive and immensely re-playable games that feature some excellent design and breathtaking pace. These top quality run and gun shooters have had a profound presence in just about every console generation, and back in 2007 Contra made its debut on seventh generation consoles in the form of Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS and was followed by Contra Rebirth on Nintendo Wii in 2009. This year another title joins the list in the form of Hard Corps: Uprising, a prequel to 1994’s Contra: Hard Corps on the Sega Mega Drive. Hard Corps: Uprising is already available on Xbox Live Arcade for a price tag of 1200 Microsoft Points ($AU 20), and we believe the game is worth every penny and a real bargain.

Hard Corps: Uprising is best described as 'Guilty Gear meets Contra'. The game has all the aural and aesthetic feel of the Guilty Gear series and the core ‘twitch heavy’ 2D shooting gameplay of a traditional Contra title. The mix of these two elements results in a game that although builds on a very retro gaming template, but builds and expands on it enough to create a highly polished and modern gaming experience.

Hard Corps: Uprising is a prequel to Contra: Uprising . The main plot and setting revolves around a war between a megalomaniac empire and a rebel group. One of the playable characters is Bahamut, who serves as the main protagonist of Hard Corps: Uprising and is possibly the very same Bahamut who served as the final boss of Contra: Uprising. It’s quite an interesting and intriguing connection, one that adds a cool twist to the story arc. The other main playable character available at the start is the eye-patch wearing Krystal, a victim of the war who becomes a rebel. Other playable characters include the super machismo-looking Harley, the Samurai girl Sayuri and more recently Leviathan. All three are available for purchase as DLC for 200 Microsoft Points ($AU 3) each. The story and characters are actually quite interesting and are mainly conveyed using text, but perhaps most players will simply skim over it.

Hard Corp shooting galore.

Hard Corp shooting galore.
Hard Corps: Uprising plays almost exactly like a Contra title, a hardcore and run and gun shooter possessing the core and fundamental elements. The shooting mechanics and the trademark Contra ‘rolling up’ mechanic are all present. That said, the gameplay doesn’t feel very retro or restricted as you can shoot from several angles, dash mid-air, do a roadie run, hang on to pipes, scale walls, double jump and shoot from a fixed direction and angle. It’s all these little touches and features that makes Hard Corps: Uprising a very fluid and enjoyable gaming experience, one that doesn’t seem to unnecessarily handicap the player. The weapon variety in this game is good as you’ll be using weapons like flamethrowers, homing lasers and machine gun, which can also be upgraded.

Hard Corps: Uprising has five playable characters at this stage, and while they are fundamentally the same, but they still manage to offer something distinct and so require a different approach. The best example being Sayuri, because unlike the other characters she does not use a rifle gun. Instead, she uses a powerful samurai sword and requires a more ‘in your face’ strategy. The other characters differ by speed, mobility and vitality. They also differ by special abilities that need to be acquired. The character selection and variety is nice, but unfortunately only two of them are available at start and you need to fork out a total of 600 Microsoft Points ($AU 10) to get the other three characters. That said, the strong DLC support is nice and there are more characters expected to be released.

The levels are loaded with relentless and unforgiving 2D shooting action, and showcase some really precise and well thought out level design and layout. It’s not just about running and shooting everything that comes in your way; you will also be riding bikes and hoverboards at insane speeds, escorting a scientist, going on a Metal Gear Solid-style stealth mission where you hide under boxes, scaling walls, running from boulders Indiana Jones style and just face a variety of insane and challenging scenarios that require precise shooting and sweat inducing platforming. While it is a run and gun shooter, we found some stages and boss battles feel like those in a horizontal shmup game.

Levels showcase some interesting design.

Levels showcase some interesting design.
The adversaries that you will face throughout the game come in all shapes and forms, but the most intense are of course the boss enemies. Hard Corps: Uprising has some truly monstrous boss battles, with the most frightening in our experience being the last boss of Stage 4 (you won’t believe the pattern of this behemoth). The bosses require a great deal of patience, precision and memorization, and are extremely rewarding to defeat.

While of all of this sounds very ‘unfriendly’, Hard Corps: Uprising actually benefits from some good design choices. For one thing, it is very much possible to beat stages without taking a single hit as it’s just designed in such a way that you can pretty much avoid any projectile and trap if you are skilled enough, and the best part is that reaching that level of skill is quite doable and so it never feels like ‘frustratingly imposed’ difficulty. Scattered throughout the levels are health items, power ups, extra lives and even well placed checkpoints, and so the game never really feels unfair.

The two main modes of play are ‘Arcade’ and ‘Rising’. Arcade mode is a more traditional and strict Contra where you basically work with default stats and settings. The Rising mode, however, is where the real value can be found. It basically allows you to collect points as you play, points which can be used to purchase upgrades for each of the playable characters. These upgrades come in the form of extra lives, increased vitality, sub weapon upgrades and new character specific abilities. What’s great about the mode is that even if you’re struggling at a particular stage, you can still rack up some points to buy upgrades to enhance your character and make things easier. It’s a great RPG-like mode that will surely win over modern gamers who aren’t used to brutal retro conventions. While the game is a blast to play alone, the two player co-op is where the real magic happens and this can be done not just offline, but even over Xbox Live which actually works really well, and not to mention makes the game a lot easier to complete.

Phenomenal boss battles featuring an epic boss theme music.

Phenomenal boss battles featuring an epic boss theme music.
Visually and musically Hard Corps: Uprising has Guilty Gear written all over it, seeing as how Arc System Works themselves worked with Konami on this title. The art style is as awesome as BlazBlue and Guilty Gear, with some really edgy and cool character designs. Graphically, the sprites are what we’ve come to expect from Arc System Works with the animations and character models looking really nice and they mix nicely with the 3D backdrops, particle effects and the massive 3D bosses. It’s a really nice looking game that packs quite the artistic and visual splendor. Musically the game is phenomenal, with famous heavy metal rock specialist Daisuke Ishiwatari (the composer of BlazBlue and Guilty Gear soundtracks) composing an absolutely breathtaking and exhilarating score that is heavy on screaming guitars, heavy bass and aggressive drums. The tracks are so good that it becomes hard to get mad over losing over and over again in a particular stage or boss fight. The game has one of the most dramatic boss themes ever and the music of each stage is a monstrous heavy metal masterpiece with a ton of flair and aural mastery, providing the right amount of adrenaline needed for a game of this genre.

Hard Corps: Uprising really is one fantastic Xbox Live Arcade release. The game has cool visuals, an amazing soundtrack, modern game design conventions, addictive gameplay and pace, super smooth and precise mechanics, a ton of variety in its stages, several playable characters and a Rising mode that adds a ton of replay value and accessibility. It really offers a great way to enjoy one of the most celebrated retro genres in more a relevant and modern context. Hard Corps Uprising is just a freakishly awesome game, and one that is a real steal for just 1200 Microsoft Points ($AU 20).
The Score
Hard Corps: Uprising is just a freakishly awesome game and it offers a great way to enjoy one of the most celebrated retro genres in a more relevant and modern context.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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3 years ago
nice review, also I didn't realise there was a third character, cool.

I'm still only up to the jungle level but fucking loving this game. Harley is the most manly main character to exist in a game ever.
3 years ago
Was waiting for this game to be released on PSN this week. Disappointment was the only thing waiting for me. >:(

Cool review though. Hands down buying the hell out of Sayuri whenever I get this game. Looking forward to this game definitely. I actually heard the games soundtrack isn't as good as Daisuke's other works...
3 years ago
I actually heard the games soundtrack isn't as good as Daisuke's other works...
It's as good as any of his works, it resembles the style of Guilty Gear games more but definitely has it's own unique style to mix with the run and gun style gameplay. I personally love the score as it has some really awesome moments, I got most of the tracks loaded up on youtube and I keep pressing that replay button icon_biggrin.gif. Wait till you hear the boss thheme and the stage 3 music during gameplay.
3 years ago
just went and played as the new guy.

Wow haha, I was like "Oh cool a cyborg ninja chick, this'll be cool and.... holy shit that's a dude?!"

Think I'll stick with uberman Harley.

Oh and the soundtrack is just as great as his other work. check this shit out
3 years ago
He's actually one of the boss characters, you'll meet him at thhe end of the Jungle stage
and yes he is frighteningly feminine. He starts out with one life bar (you can upgrade that in no time) but has this amazing backflip and can toss grenades.
3 years ago
I hope you guys aren't talking about Sayuri...
3 years ago
ah ha ha ha worry not, Sayuri is all woman icon_wink.gif

We were talking about the latest DLC character, Leviathan.
3 years ago
So was playing some Sayuri, is there actually any point to getting the weapon upgrades (spread gun, machine gun etc) with her? They don't seem to change anything?

Harley's still the best.
I'm tough!
quote to live your life by.
3 years ago
WHERE did this come from, NEED.

Is it on PSN?
3 years ago

As far as I know weapon pick ups have no effect on Sayuri.

Also, ManeKast and David, the game is apparently available on PSN now:

3 years ago
Is there some sort of manual about what your new moves are?
I bought an action chip to give myself Ambush shot while dashing and then realized. I have no idea what ambush shot is or how to perform it?
3 years ago
Jahanzeb wrote
Also, ManeKast and David, the game is apparently available on PSN now:
Nope. I just checked the PSN store. I know its available for the US and JP PSN stores. No luck for us Aussies though.
3 years ago
hi guys, ok its probly just me, but did anyone else find this painfully tough?
i was really exited when i heard this was up for download as i completed hundreds of games of contra/probotector on s/nes over the years, but this really kicked my ass...
3 years ago
well it is contra? I'm not finding it any tougher then most contra games. Hell if anything with the uprising mode it's easier cause you can start at the different levels.
3 years ago
Ambush shot is just being able to shoot while you dash. The B button is generally used to perform skills, Sayuri can use Y to perform this cool Falcon Punch like move. Depends on character, but yea clear command list would have been nice.
3 years ago
^ Tell me about it. I was trying to figure what the hell these moves do! ...well now I know! Cheers.

The game definitely makes you earn your rewards, that's for sure. I mean... 'clear arcade mode WITHOUT DYING...' wow! Anyway, loving the game and loving Sayuri. icon_smile.gif
3 years ago
Something you guys might like to try!

When you enter the KONAMI code you unlock a remixed version of the original Contra Stage 1 song in the Xbox 360 Xbox Live Arcade game Hard Corps: Uprising. This works with both Arcade and Rising game modes using any of the playable characters and only on Stage 1, Desert.


1. In either Arcade or Rising mode select Stage 1, Desert, and while the level is loading enter the KONOMI code; Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A.

2. You will receive confirmation of successfully entering the KONAMI code from Krystal saying, "Let's Rock".

Here's the track, it's freakin sweet!

3 years ago
Very, very cool! Original Contra level 1 music by Daisuke = Head Explosion!!

As great as the desert theme is, I always end up entering the Konami code at the loading screen to hear this one instead. icon_biggrin.gif
3 years ago
man that was like the first thing I tried as soon as I got the game and got nothing.
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Australian Release Date:
  16/02/2011 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $20 AU
Year Made:

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