After years of absence, Contra will return, but current reports that Konami is gearing up to release the title exclusively for mobile platforms in China.
The NES was notorious for amassing a library of games that were as fun as they were brutally difficult. Before refilling shields or checkpoints were a glimmer in gamers' eyes, games like Battletoads and Ghosts ‘N Goblins made players fight tooth and nail for victory.
But in the pantheon of unforgiving and difficult NES games, Contra reigns supreme. With its one hit kills and reliance on twitch reflexes, Contra quickly cemented itself as a must-play game that was as likely to make players jump with joy as it was to make them spike their controllers in frustration. However, with hard work and dedication, Contra could be conquered, and once conquered it left players wanting more.
Thus, a franchise was spawned, resulting in twelve games released across a variety of consoles, with plenty of spin-offs and remakes to bolster its ranks. Each game pushed gamers to their run-and-gun limits, requiring lightning quick reflexes and nerves of steel to beat. But despite a passionate fandom, the series eventually petered out, with the last proper release in the franchise gracing the Wii in 2009. But Konami has announced that the Contra drought is over and that the series will finally return, albeit only in China.
According to Japanese gaming publication Famitsu, Konami will revive the classic shooter series as a microtransaction-oriented iOS and Android title. The as-yet-untitled game will be developed by Konami in conjunction with Chinese mobile developer Tencent (the same studio that makes Call of Duty Online), and the team is working to craft a Contra title that will cater to Chinese gamers.
While many Contra fans will likely be left scratching their heads over this announcement, this isn’t the first time Contra has received a Chinese-exclusive launch. In 2013, Konami released Contra Evolution, a re-tooled remake of the original 1987 Contra. The game melded the run-and-gun gameplay of Contra with the mega-popular “endless runner” genre found on mobile platforms, and proved to be a smash hit in China.
While Contra Evolution eventually hit Western shores, Konami has not stated if this new title will follow suit. With titles like Cuphead looking to inject some new blood into the tried-and-true run-and-gun genre, it may be the right time for Contra to make its glorious 80’s soaked return. But with Konami's recent move away from Triple A game development, it remains to be seen if this mobile title is simply a one-off or a potential revival of the Contra franchise.