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Contra: Evolution review: A faithful remake of the classic run-and-gun hit

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The Good Contra: Evolution stays faithful to its predecessor from the '80s, with its familiar side-scrolling action and variety of weapons power-ups. Graphics have been updated and new characters introduced. The auto-fire option is a godsend.

The Bad Disappointingly, there is no multiplayer mode. Also, touch-screen controls take some getting used to.

The Bottom Line Great for fans of the original and anyone looking for side-scrolling run-and-gun action, Contra: Evolution is well worth its relatively cheap 99-cent price tag.


8.2 Overall
  • Setup 8
  • Features 8
  • Interface 8
  • Performance 9

Arguably one of the most important titles in the entire platform-shooter genre, Contra has finally made its way onto mobile devices. The renamed Contra: Evolution gives you the same side-scrolling run-and-gun action of the original, but with updated graphics, three different touch-based control options, and a handful of new game elements. With a price tag of only 99 cents, this remake of the popular classic is well worth the download.

To start, Contra: Evolution offers two different game modes, which is already a departure from the simple start-and-shoot mode of the original. In Evolution's Mission Mode, you can perfect your strategy on single levels (most of which must be unlocked), while Arcade Mode gives you the classic game as we all remember it.

Once you jump into a game mode, you'll notice that you now get to select a character -- something you couldn't do in the original. The two original characters are there, plus there are two additional, unlockable female characters with different capabilities.

Just like the original game, Evolution is light on story and heavy on action. Your goal is to simply make your way to the end of each stage and avoid or shoot enemies on your way there. The tough part is that if you get hit once (by either an enemy or a bullet), you're dead. Fortunately, though, there are weapons upgrades scattered throughout the levels, which can make things significantly easier. Of the upgrades available, my personal favorites are the spread gun, which can mow down several enemies at once, and the heat-seeking missile launcher, which is actually a new weapon that never appeared in the original.

Graphics have been updated, but game play and stage layouts remain just as they were in the classic Contra game. Screenshot by Jaymar Cabebe/CNET

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