Contra: Operation Galuga Review (PS5)


It’s weird that Konami has taken this long to ship Contra: Operation Galuga, which is the classic Contra game fans have been asking for. After the damp turd that was 2019’s Contra: Rogue Corps, the publisher handed the reins back to WayForward, the team behind 2008’s Contra 4. Turns out that’s all that was needed to get a great Contra game, since this latest effort nails what made the original run-‘n’-gun experience so infectious in the first place.

While positioned as a reimagining of the original game, you’d be forgiven for thinking Contra: Operation Galuga was wholly original. There are some obvious throwbacks with some of the level designs and the bosses, and of course, a lot of inspiration gameplay-wise is taken from the NES original and the Mega Drive’s Contra: Hard Corps; the movement and floaty jumps in particular are nailed down and feel exactly as you would expect.

Poster boys Bill and Lance return, of course, but new characters Ariana and Lucia fill out the roster. Barring Bill and Lance, each character has their own unique mechanics too (Ariana trades the dash for a slide, and Lucia can use a grappling hook), plus, bosses and side-characters have unique dialogue depending on who you pick (which is a nice touch). Not to mention, there’s some bonus characters available for the side modes after you complete the story.

However, we’re sure many of you hear the word Contra and immediately associate it with getting your arse beat into a pulp; luckily, there are ways around it this time. You have standard difficulty options, of course, and a brand new perk system that lets you purchase buffs for each character – like adding extra hit-points or more i-frames on your dash. The game can be played in the classic “one hit and you’re dead” style, or in a mode that gives you four hit points before losing a life. However, in our personal experience, we found the former punishingly difficult, while the latter made some sections a breeze due to the extra hit points.

The game’s story mode is short overall, but thankfully there’s an Arcade and Challenge mode that offer great replayability. The challenge mode in particular is a highlight as it doles out mini-challenges for you to blast through, like tricky platforming or a pacifist run of a level. So, all in all, this is undoubtedly the best game the series has had in a long time, and one fans of the classic games won’t want to miss out on.

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