Forget Contra, because Contra: Rogue Corps pretty much has as far as I can tell. Sure, there’s some attempt to slot this game into the timeline, I think, but it’s essentially a co-op-focused action game that has very little to do with the main Contra series. Is Rogue Corps any good in and of itself? Not really. Does this matter? Not really. Rogue Corps is one of those not-brilliant games that can still be a fair amount of fun to play in lazy bursts – largely because of the central idea.
Listen: Rogue Corps is a twin-stick shooter. You choose one of four playable characters and then you race around a bunch of dingy levels sticking it to hideous bad guys. The playable characters feel like they’ve been pulled in from Borderlands rather than Contra. One is a panda, one has an alien living in their stomach, one has a drill for an arm and another is a very well-to-do custard-slug-mutant thing – and they all have two basic weapons and their own specials (drill guy Kaiser can shoot firey things out in a bit of an arc, for example). The hideous bad guys are plentiful, but the camera is so far back and the visuals so muddy it’s hard to make out much about them. Early on there are lots of red beef-jerky zombies and wibbling pink things that may have a propellor attachment. These are soon joined by skittering things, some huge meat-umbrellas, a sort of S&M elephant, turrets and huge exploding brains and all of that sort of stuff.
It’s not a top-tier twin-stick. Movement feels like you are maneuvering an industrial floor-buffer over a generous expanse of peanut brittle and aiming is skittery. The weapons lack punch and collision can seem iffy, particularly with a dash move that is used to stun as well as get out of trouble. Level design relies on a handful of samey objectives, and longer missions can really chug. You can’t pause the game, even if you’re playing on your own.