[Nintendo Switch] Contra: Operation Galuga Review

by EdEN, Owner

Contra: Operation Galuga from KONAMI and WayForward brings us a 2.5D reimagined take on the 1980s run ‘n’ gun classic. Check out our Contra: Operation Galuga review!

Contra: Operation Galuga from KONAMI and WayForward brings us a 2.5D reimagined take on the 1980s run ‘n’ gun classic. It’s a reimagining of the game we all know and love from back when arcades were a very big thing and the Nintendo Entertainment System – a.k.a. the NES – ruled supreme in the home console arena. You’ll be taking on the evil Red Falcon terrorist group, which has taken over the titular Galuga Islands right off the coast of New Zealand. It’s up to elite commandos Bill Rizer and Lance Bean to save the day

WayForward previously gave us the very fun run ‘n’ gun genre homage Spidersaurs, which was originally released exclusively on Apple Arcade before making the jump to consoles. I got a chance to review the game on Nintendo Switch in 2022. As a fan of both the Contra franchise and the work of indie studio WayForward, I was looking forward to seeing what the studio did with this remake/reimagining of the one that started it all decades ago. Oh, and, you know, WayForward also developed Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS back in 2007.

Contra: Operation Galuga Review - 1

There are three different game options: Story Mode, Arcade Mode, and Challenge Mode. Story Mode is the main one, since it has you taking on the Red Falcon with up to two players, with some cutscenes here and there to drive the story forward. Arcade Mode dials up the challenge while allowing up to four players to jump into action, which makes for a hectic but fun experience. As for Challenge Mode, as its name suggests, you’ll be presented with a series of challenges to complete. You might need to speedrun through a level without receiving damage, making it to the end before time runs out, or take on a tricky obstacle course in one piece.

Contra: Operation Galuga can be played in one of three difficulty settings: Easy, Normal, and Hard. For Easy, you’ll be able to take on a less taxing experience with enemies that aren’t as aggressive so that you can learn the basics of the run ‘n’ run genre. Normal offers the standard Contra challenge, so fans of the series will know what they’re getting themselves into. As for Hard, you’ll always need to be on high alert since any mistake you make along the way will cost you dearly. You can also decide to play either with a health meter based on what character you play as or can go with the 1-hit kill of classic entries in the franchise.

Once you pick your poison and choose your character, you’ll control it with the left stick or the D-Pad, jumping with the B button and attacking with the Y button. You can swap weapons with the L and R buttons as needed so that you can make the most of your arsenal. Pressing and holding down the ZR button will make your character stand its ground so you can better aim at enemies. Abilities are mapped to the X and A buttons. These include things such as a double jump or being able to dash through the ground or while up in the air. Other characters will have different abilities – more on these bonus characters in a bit.

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By default, instead of dying after a single hit, your character will now have a health bar, which means you can make a mistake or two as you reevaluate your strategy and adjust as needed. Another option you have is to activate an Overload for your currently active special weapon. What this will do when you press the ZL button is destroy that special weapon in exchange for a support effect or an all-out powerful attack. Some examples include creating a barrier around your character to protect it from damage, launching a storm of ricocheting bullets, or making your character move insanely fast. As you defeat enemies, an emblem will eventually appear below your character’s health. This is the Bonus Pad activation signal. Press the – button to make a special weapon pod pop up, which might be just what you need to defeat a boss during an emergency.

As was the case for the original Contra, you must destroy pods to collect weapons to help you with your mission. There’s the Machine Gun, which fires bullets at a solid rate; the Spread Shot, which fires 3 bullets that fan out in a wide range; the Flame Weapon, a powerful flamethrower with a short range; the Homing Missile, a handy rocket launcher that fires missiles that will track enemies; the Crush Bombs, which unleash mighty close-range explosives that deal splash damage; and the Laser Beam, a fast light-based weapon that shoots a beam that can go through multiple enemies. You can also level up weapons, which increases their effectiveness by, for example, adding more bullets or making attacks ricochet between targets.

As you progress through Story Mode, you’ll get to unlock additional characters for you to play as. They include new characters Ariana and Stanley Ironside, as well as Lucia, who has previously appeared in Contra: Shattered Soldier, and Neo Contra. There are also a pair of Probotector characters for Arcade Mode. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because the Contra series had to be renamed to Probotector in Europe while also switching out Bill and Lance for robots. In Contra: Operation Galuga, the robots are M4D- OG and SCORP1.

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If you have save data on your console for Contra Anniversary Collection, Castlevania Anniversary Collection, or Arcade Classics Collection – or, as was my case, for all three – you will get to unlock some nice bonuses! Each of the aforementioned saves will allow you to obtain what is being called an Alternative Sound bonus with additional songs to use in Arcade Mode or Challenge Mode. Contra Anniversary Collection unlocks Retro Remix (Contra and Super Contra), Castlevania Anniversary Collection unlocks Vania Mix (Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, and Arcade Classics Collection adding the Konamix (music from previous KONAMI titles. You can also unlock these on the Perks Shop after finishing the game.

The Perks Shop is a special section of the game featuring stuff you can buy in exchange for the Credits you obtain based on your performance during each stage of Contra: Operation Galuga played in Story Mode. Completing stages with additional characters will allow you to get bonus Credits. What can you buy from the Perk Shop? You could trade 500 Credits to get Bill’s Spirit, which adds limited invulnerability during a dash. Buying Lance’s Spirit for 500 credits will increase the height of his double jump. You could also unlock Auto-Levelup with 1,000 Credits, which makes all weapons you collect start on level 2.

Contra: Operation Galuga Review - 4

Contra: Operation Galuga brings us a 2.5D reimagined take on the 1980s run ‘n’ gun classic. We’re getting a tight action game with three different gameplay options – Story Mode, Arcade More, and Challenge Mode – completely revamped graphics, sounds, and a solid soundtrack, as well as additional characters to play as, making this a great way for both newcomers and longtime fans of the series to dive in for a new go with a true genre-defining classic. Contra: Operation Galuga is out on Nintendo Switch with a $39.99 price tag.

This Contra: Operation Galuga review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by KONAMI.

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