Contra: Operation Galuga Review — Returning Retro

With Konami hoarding a wealth of classic titles in its treasure trove, fans have been calling for either a return to these titles with sequels or modern alternatives to play these games. Konami came out guns blazing last year with the announcement of the Metal Gear Solid Collection Vol 1 and let the world know of its intentions for more games such as Silent Hill. But another series that has been hit and miss with its modernisation of titles since its original hits that started way back in the 80s is Contra, which has returned in the form of Contra: Operation Galuga with the help of WayForward.

Never having a Nintendo console back in the day, I never really got into the Contra series. While I technically own them, I’ve never overly been interested in the run-and-gun bullet hell style of games that these are, but I was more than happy to give this a go and see if a modern coat of paint could win me over with Contra: Operation Galuga. Set on a remote island where a meteor shower had recently hit, a terrorist group has been carrying out limited strikes across the globe named Red Falcon. We are then shipped by helicopter to find missing soldiers and a doomsday weapon.

A remaster of a retro classic has returned

While Contra: Operation Galuga does its best to pull players in with a story, there isn’t much here in terms of engaging story content. Each part of the game’s storytelling is fully voiced over with a throwback to Muscle Head 80s movies which I must admit to having a guilty pleasure in watching, but the main attraction here is the Run’n’Gun shooting gameplay the series is best known for. 

This game is vibrant and beautiful in the first stage, which is set in a jungle; it’s what a Contra game should be: big dudes running and gunning. Well, I don’t suggest full-on running. You still have to dodge bombs and bullets. It took me a very long time to learn this and complete the first stage. The constant barrage of enemies attacking you can be overwhelming at the start, and I wish I could say it got easier, but that would be a lie. That is if you intend on playing this as a single-player experience. Throughout the main campaign of Contra: Operation Galuga, there is an option to play with a friend as the main protagonists, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean. 

Throughout the campaign, you will fight off against huge robot enemies as well as creatures beyond the stars (aliens), proving that the island isn’t as simple as a terrorist hideout. In addition, you will find extra characters, such as locals and backup forces, to assist you through the campaign, who will join forces with the Contra team and be selectable characters in the campaign and arcade modes. 

Bosses come in many shapes and sizes. Normally as big as the screen.

You start each level with 3 lives. Each life entitles you to get hit 3 times. If you run out of lives without completing the mission/level, it’s right back to the start. That is unless you activate a ‘Bonus Pod’. These are achieved by killing a certain amount of enemies with the weapons you pick up throughout your time in Contra: Operation Galuga, which acts as a save state near where you activate it. However, on many of the missions, it felt like it had a set spot where it would restart you from.

Every time you play through a level, you are rewarded with perk points. These can be spent in the perk store to purchase items such as starting the level with a certain gun, weapons collected during the stage are automatically level 2 or other health meter-related items. Level 2 weapons are upgraded versions of a weapon you are already using, so if you pick up a second gun that is the same as you are holding through the stage, it will level up and do way more damage or add an extra area of damage.

Apart from the story mode, Contra: Operation Galuga offers an additional two modes: Arcade and Challenge mode. Arcade mode is just the ability to play through the main campaign without all the story to drag the gameplay down with up to four players as opposed to the two available in the story missions, while Challenge mode lets you add modifiers and challenges to these (again) main mission levels such as completing the level in a certain amount of time or completion without shooting a single bullet. Hardcore fans will either love or hate this mode.

Optional challenges are here for the hardcore fans

Speaking of hardcore fans, this game is no joke. It’s old-school arcade difficulty that I’m sure old-school fans will love and welcome. Maybe even those sadistic Soulsborne fans will get a kick out of this one, especially if playing it single-player. 

I enjoyed my time with Contra: Operation Galuga but felt like the small number of story missions was not enough, coupled with the same additional modes packaged in with the game. If you and your friends are looking for a night of good old retro shooting fun, this will have you all enjoying your night. Unfortunately, for the long term of this game, I worry that the new players to the series will get over it quickly.



Contra: Operation Galuga brings the Contra series back to its former glory. This run-and-gun shooter is best enjoyed with friends; however, newcomers to the series may struggle to be drawn in.


  • Konami are releasing more of their classics

  • It has a “one more try” appeal to it

  • The new coat of paint is a delight


  • Repetitive modes

  • Better played with friends

  • Not much to do once you finish the story unless you want to play the challenge mode

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