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Contra: Evolution Review

By , on July 12, 2013
Last modified 4 years, 11 months ago

Download on the AppStore
4 out of 5


  • Autofire is a sensible inclusion.
  • Platforming thrills remain largely intact.
  • That soundtrack.
  • Contra on your mobile.


  • Unnecessary in-app purchases.
  • Odd rebalancing choices.


While not perfect, Contra: Evolution is a very solid and shiny port of the NES classic.

  • Full Review
  • App Store Info

Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start. Most gamers who owned a NES are familiar with the Konami code. This familiarity is most likely due to Contra, in which the code would grant you thirty lives. While you could certainly become good enough at the game not to need this boost, it was always appreciated, and made this platforming classic a little more accessible.

Now we have Contra: Evolution. Punchbox Studios has taken this seminal side scroller and not only given it a fresh coat of paint, but adapted it to iOS devices.

Adapting a run and gun platformer that relies on dodging and firing in all directions is a tricky prospect. Luckily, it seems the developers have realised this. For starters, shooting is automatic. Your weapon will unleash a constant barrage of bullets, leaving only movement contros and the direction of fire in your hands.

You can either use an analogue stick or the traditional d-pad. While the controls are pretty responsive, we found it tricky shooting upwards, ducking, and shooting at an angle (as your finger can easily press more than one direction). Also, since your thumb is covering a section of the screen, it can obscure incoming fire and lead to unneccesary deaths.

To counteract these hinderances, there are some additional perks. New weapon types are available, and IAPs can give you access to a random weapon at any time, or a screen-obliterating nuke. A couple of levels into the game you get access to the shop, where you can directly purchase your weapons. Unfortunately, coins and diamonds are fairly scarce outside your initial supply.

You can tackle the game is arcade mode or play stages individually in Mission Mode for practise. There's also the option to unlock other playable characters.

While the presentation has been upgraded and for the most part is great, the sound design is a mixed bag. The remixes of Contra's amazing music are worthy of praise, but design changes like removing the sound effects for shooting turret guns sheild damage are questionable. The classic enemy attack patterns - and the hits required to destroy your foes - have been altered as well. It's these little things that can make the experience feel a little off to Contra verterans.

But despite all these little issues, Contra: Evolution is easy to recommend. While some adjustment is necessary to long time fans, there is still a fluidity to the experience as the stages themselves have not been altered. The only thing we need now is an iPhone- friendly version of the code. Your move, Konami.


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jeffyg3 4 years, 11 months ago

The problem with this game is you're more than likely going to need the IAP to continue...I don't know anyone who was able to beat the game without that cheat code. So they've pretty much replaced the cheat code with crappy IAP which makes this an even more expensive pay wall. It's a shame to have what fans loved about the game on the NES with a game you need to continuously feed money into. Yeah, no thanks.

Merry 4 years, 11 months ago

unfortunately you're right… but there's still few old games, where micropayments aren't involved - amiga lovers should check Atomic Puzzle on iTunes, the remake of Atomix for iOS, it's one of the best games ever