In conjunction with Konami, CocoaChina has released the next installment in the Contra series, Contra: Evolution for iOS devices. After playing through the majority of the game’s mission and arcade modes, I believe that Contra fans will be very pleased with Evolution, and let me tell you why.
Evolution stays very true to its predecessors as it follows the 2-D scrolling shooter format. At the starting menu, the player has the option to chose between the Arcade and Mission mode. Characters and levels can be unlocked by getting achievements within certain game modes and by earning experience. As the player progresses further and further in the game, obstacles become harder to avoid and enemies become harder to defeat.
Gameplay for Evolution is nearly identical to its NES predecessors, the player must navigate the character linearly through the map and destroy the enemy artillery at the finale of each level, called stages. At the end of each stage, points are awarded for the amount of enemies and obstacles that are destroyed and how quickly the stage was beaten. Based on how many points the player received, they will be awarded gold and experience, along with eagle medals (3 per stage). Gold is a necessary component to the game, as it allows the player to purchase weapon upgrades and revives. Experience is also necessary because it allows the player to unlock other stages and characters.
Overall, Evolution is quite an entertaining play. From racing against time, destroying the enemy artillery, to shooting power ups from the sky, the amount of content that CocoaChina provides for a $.99 price tag is quite impressive. Initially, I had concerns that CocoaChina would have difficulties converting controls to a touch-screen format, but they’ve succeeded for the most part. I was most impressed with the amount of upgrades available, which really expanded possibilities within the game as well as increasing the game entertainment value. Player customization is an important aspect in a video game, and CocoaChina really nailed it.
However, gameplay for Evolution is not flawless, and not nearly. There are certain issues within the game that are hard to ignore. While navigating each stage, it’s very difficult to control the trajectory of the rapid fire of bullets, especially downward. I spent minutes at a time simply trying to destroy enemy artillery that was beneath me. I also found it quite difficult to jump from platform to platform without losing a life. This was very annoying at times, and can affect your final point tally significantly. The last issue I have with the gameplay are the amount of in-app purchases. It really takes away the suspense and difficulty of the game, and can essentially be beaten by a mere purchase. I understand that the in-app purchases give CocoaChina a quick buck, but it seriously takes away the very important aspect of playability. Evolution does provide a game difficulty option, which fixes this issue somewhat.
Graphically, Evolution is very much a modernized version of its NES predecessors. Textures and landscapes are very much enhanced, which is easily noticeable on every stage of the game, but it still follows the 2-D linear format. The game looked rather clear on the iPhone 5’s retina display, and the frame-rate was rather impressive. I cannot speak on behalf of previous iPhone generations, but I can imagine Evolution to be a little choppy, because a lot happens on every frame. Overall, graphics are as good as any, but it is hard to praise it because of its 2D format.
Unfortunately, the sounds and music of Evolution really crippled my enjoyment of the game. I suppose it is very similar to the previous Contra games, but I really found it to be quite annoying, and I muted it after about 5 minutes of gameplay. I find this is typical in iOS games, and usually toggle my noise setting to iPod if that option is present. It would be a wonderful idea if CocoaChina provided that setting in the next update. But for now, I guess must deal with the loud and rather obnoxious music and sound effects of Evolution.
Overall, Contra: Evolution stays true to the Contra franchise and I would recommend this game to any Contra fans out there. Many of the game’s mechanics remain the same as its predecessors, following the 2D scrolling shooters format. Evolution provides a large amount of content for a rather cheap price, and its entertainment value is rather high (if muted).