Contra: Operation Galuga Review — A Blast To The Past

Terrorists, Aliens, World-ending threats? Just another day for Bill and Lance, once again.

Contra: Operation Galuga Review
Overall
3.5
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

Contra: Operation Galuga, though nothing new and has some story issues, is still a love letter to Contra fans just wanting to shoot stuff.

Pros

  • Engaging Gameplay
  • Improved Mobility Options
  • Authentic Throwback To The Original Contra
  • Local Co-op Support

Cons

  • Over-Emphasis On The Story
  • Visual Flaws
  • Lack Of Originality

Years have passed, but I still have a special connection with arcade games. They were with me when I started my gaming journey. Everything from beat ’em ups to run-and-guns is forever close to my heart. And there was one particular game that both frustrated me to hell and was one of my favorite games growing up: Contra.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: WayForward
  • Publisher: Konami
  • Release Date: March 12, 2024
  • Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Nintendo Switch
  • Game Length: 2-5 Hours
  • Time Played: 10+ Hours
  • Editors Note: Our reviewer played the game on PC trying out its various characters and mechanics extensively.

The original Contra was hard, man. At least, the 6-year-old me found it a nightmare. Those Red Falcon silhouettes and missile-filled screens haunted my dreams. But, it was an adrenaline-fueled action-fest nonetheless, one you couldn’t help but get addicted to. Imagine my excitement when I saw it return with a new look, Contra: Operation Galuga, which happens to be the target of my review today.

Story And Setting

Do I remember the original Contra? Of course, I do, vividly. But do I remember what it was about, you ask? What do you mean, it had a story? I clearly thought it was all about shooting down terrorists and aliens. Do I look like I care if those aliens had any feelings or plans? No, I just wanna shoot.

Lemris, the artifact critical to the story (image by eXputer)
Lemris, the artifact critical to the story (image by eXputer)

Thus, Contra was a game primarily about the gameplay. At least, that’s how it should’ve been. Contra: Operation Galuga on the other hand, goes a little too hard on the story’s importance. 

Operation Galuga puts a little too much focus on the lengthy monologues of villains and allies.

Operation Galuga is essentially a recreation of the original Contra. A terrorist group has reigned control of this island and is supposedly hiding gravity weapons in there. A world-ending threat? You know who to call. That’s right, it’s a job for the EMC’s Contra boys, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. As you go through a nostalgic and familiar journey, you’ll notice some very distinct changes.

Although the story’s unchanged, its execution isn’t. Operation Galuga puts a little too much focus on the lengthy monologues of villains and allies. It’s still iconic, but kind of being shoved in your face whether you like it or not. Just let me kill these aliens in peace; I do not want to hear this rambling souring my “shooting stuff in the face” experience.

The origin of Contra (image credit: eXputer)
The origin of Contra (image credit: eXputer)

Gameplay

Now, for the nitty and gritty part, Contra was so beloved for. The basic gameplay loop is the same as you know and love, albeit with some mechanical changes. You’re given the option to stick to the 8-directional inputs of the classic adventure or opt for the modern 360° control scheme.

The iconic arsenal is back, including the M-type (Machine Gun), S-type (Spread gun), L-type (Laser gun), F-type (Flame thrower), H-type (Homing gun), and C-type (Crush gun) weaponry. All these are given a new look and are as satisfying as I remember.

Upgraded C-type weapon (image by Us)
Upgraded C-type weapon (image by Us)

For example, upgraded M and L weapons are my go-to for single-target situations, S, F, and H are great for crowd-controlling mobs, and the upgraded C straight-up creates a black hole. I always enjoy some gravitational incineration once in a while. 

Other than this weaponry, you also have another important but rather risky feature. This is the Overload mechanic. Overload destroys your weapon for a specific buff. M grants momentary invulnerability, F creates a flame barrier, L slows down time, you get the idea. However, I’ll be honest, I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing your weapons for the very limited effect.

Overload of F-type weapon (Screenshot Grab eXputer)
Overload of F-type weapon (Screenshot Grab eXputer)

Operation Galuga Blends Past Contra With New Mechanics

Operation Galuga not only brings new mechanics but also features from other Contra games. First up are the highly diverse characters you can play. These include the iconic Bill and Lance, the recurring Probotector bots, and certain others you might recognize, each with their own mechanics I loved experimenting with.

Varied playable characters (image by eXputer)
Varied playable characters (image by eXputer)

Some can perform dodges and better jumps, while others come equipped with the two movement systems you must be familiar with if you’re a series veteran: grappling hook and hover. All this character variety gave me ample incentive to try someone other than Bill and Lance for a change.

Another returning feature is found in the returning weaponry. You still lose the weapon if you get hit. But Operation Galuga brings the Contra 4-style dual weaponry you can switch between and keep as a reserve.

Plus, the new upgrade system allows you to level up a weapon with a second copy, and getting hit reverts you to level one; you only lose it upon dying. That brings us to the next feature, the Perk system.

Perks, the auxiliary abilities (image credit: eXputer)
Perks, the auxiliary abilities (image credit: eXputer)

All this character variety gave me ample incentive to try someone other than Bill and Lance for a change.

These are auxiliary upgrades like extra lives, starting with a specific or already upgraded weapon, not losing them, defensive options like improved mobility, or character-specific boosts. You can only equip two of these, so be playful and creative with your approach.

The New Contra More Or Less Feels The Same, And That’s Okay

In addition to the story mode, the original feature, Contra: Operation Galuga, also comes with the Contra 4-like Arcade and Challenge modes. Arcade allows you to play with four local co-op partners as you struggle to finish it with limited lives. Challenge spices things up with unique handicaps I still find hellish to clear.

Sometimes, it lifts stuff verbatim from the original. At other points, it overhauls the mechanics, like replacing the 2.5D “towards the screen” levels from the original with a 2D approach. However, whether it’s paying homage to the past games or dabbling in new stuff, Contra: Operation Galuga always carries the Contra soul unchanged.

Level design (Image by Us)
Level design (Image by Us)

As you go through the Red Falcon-infested abandoned village to the creepy laboratory and the head-crushing ruins, battle hordes of enemies and bizarre yet familiar alien bosses with similar moves but a new look, you can’t help but feel that this is all stuff you’ve already experienced.

Whether it’s paying homage to the past games or dabbling in new stuff, Contra: Operation Galuga always carries the Contra soul unchanged.

Some people call this a flaw; the game did nothing new or innovative and is still the same old, same old. However, for me, there couldn’t be a more desirable plus point. Going through this familiar level design, bosses, and the reworked but true to the original environments, I was once again reminded of what made the original Contra great.

Boss fights (image by eXputer)
Boss fights (image by eXputer)

It’s been more than three decades since then, yet the Contra experience remains unchanged; I call this an achievement. No change is better than getting worse. Something that takes me back to the glory days is always welcome.

Visuals And Performance

Now for the visuals, and though I genuinely appreciate the overhauled look of this brilliant classic, there are some points I’m going to nitpick, so bear with me. The visuals mostly retain the the atmosphere and feel of the original while making things more crisp, but doing so becomes counterintuitive sometimes.

Visuals and environments (image credit: eXputer)
Visuals and environments (image credit: eXputer)

The overhauled visuals make enemy attacks and your own a lot more prominent; the screen becomes too messy too quickly. I’ve praised the C-type black holes before, but when you continuously fire these visually enhanced portals all over the screen, seeing what’s coming is very hard; I pretty much operated on instinct here.

As for the performance, I don’t think there is anything remotely to worry about here. Contra: Operation Galuga is not at all taxing for your hardware and runs at a crisp and stable framerate even on low-end systems. I’ve played the game on an RX 580, and it’s all smooth sailing, so you can rest easy.

Verdict

Verdict (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)
Verdict (Screenshot Grab: eXputer)

All in all, Contra: Operation Galuga is although the same old and has underlying story issues, it’s still a love letter to Contra fans who wish to relive the glory days of just shooting stuff. The fact that it is nothing new or improved works in its favor; it presents the original, unaltered experience.

It’s been more than three decades since then, yet the Contra experience remains unchanged, I call this an achievement. No change is better than getting worse.

That was all about my Contra: Operation Galuga review. If you enjoyed reading that, might I suggest looking at some more of our reviews?

This is box title
Get This Game
If you’re a fan of the Contra series or arcade run-and-gun games in general.
Dont Get This Game
In case old-school games with dated visuals are not your cup of tea.
Do I Need To Get This Game
Yes, it’s a nostalgic throwback to the series’ origin, and a must-play for every Contra fan.
Alternative Games
  • Contra (1987)
  • Contra 4
  • Metal Slug series
  • Super Cyborg
  • Cuphead
Did you find this helpful? Leave feedback below.

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.


Hanzala is a dedicated writer who expresses his views as opinion pieces at eXputer. He's always been fascinated by gaming and has been an avid consumer of many different genres for over a decade. His passion for games has him eager to encounter the latest RPGs and actively look for new Soulslike to challenge. He puts forth his experience and knowledge of gaming into captivating opinion pieces.

Experience: 8+ months || Education: Bachelors in Chemistry.

Related Articles

Join Our Community

Enjoyed this article? Discuss the latest gaming news, get expert help with guides and errors, and chat about all things gaming on eXputer Forums and Discord Server. Connect with fellow gamers who share your passion by becoming a part of eXputer's community.