Take a quick path down memory lane back to the good old days of the NES. TECMO SUPER BOWL, STARTROPICS, MIKE TYSON'S PUNCH-OUT, and of course, who could ever forget one of the most fondly remembered video games of all time, CONTRA.
In CONTRA, gamers faced an elaborate set of enemies, eventually culminating in larger and larger bosses. The game itself was incredibly difficult, and mastering it was more than a challenge. The beauty and replayability of the game was solely in the two-player co-op mode. With it, you and a buddy could work together to clear the levels. It was a lot of fun, and one of my most memorable NES games.
It's been a long while since there has been a decent CONTRA game on the market, and Konami is looking to remedy that with SHATTERED SOLDIER. The side-scrolling gameplay has remained intact, and the graphics of the game are basically the same, just prettier.
The biggest difference between this game and other CONTRA titles is that you have all of the weapons to start with. You can switch, and you can charge them up for a charged shot. Other than that, the same rules apply. One hit, one kill. Big bosses with set patterns. Lots and lots of enemies for you to kill (and to kill you).
Besides the straight up running around sequences, you'll also get the chance to do some fighting while on a snowboard, as well other vehicles. Each level features lots of big bosses that will infuriate you.
That's what has been brought to the PS2. All of the insanely difficult gameplay that you remember from the old days is here in full force. It took a friend and me nearly two hours to figure out how to beat one level and we're both pretty good gamers. This means the game has plenty of value for the money, if you can keep your controllers intact long enough to finish it that is.
Really, this is a two-player only game. You could enjoy it alone, but it's much more fun to work together with someone and figure out how to get past the plethora of enemies and bosses. Playing alone just isn't nearly as satisfactory.
The game perfectly conveys the look of CONTRA but with beautiful style. Explosions are done very nicely and the game has a nice set of lighting effects that add a shine to the game. Everything is well polished and looks very nice for a side-scroller.
I'm not a giant fan of the music though. It's just this repetitive hard rock beat. The sound effects aren't bad, but it seems that there was no inspiration to any of the sound. It's just there, and it's not good. Play some music, or talk to your buddy about how to beat that giant boss.
While CONTRA SHATTERED SOLDIER is a short game, fans of the original will eat it up. It's also a game for anyone looking for a challenge. While the music sucks, it's worth at least a rental.