I don’t know about you, but I love me a good “Man” movie, and I’m meaning this in the most un-gay sense of the term “‘Man’ Movie” I possibly can, though I’m pretty sure it’s not a real term. But it should be! “Man” movies help to satiate the unquenchable needs of every man: gratuitous violence, guns, and explosions! You know what else makes for a good “Man” movie? Cliched and unnecessary plots, cheesy/awful/awkward dialogue, and over-the-top action sequences that make no sense. The Expendables 2 has all this (mostly thanks to the incredible Dolph Lundgren), but it also brings to the table something all men can appreciate: camaraderie. There ain’t nothing in the world like getting together with old (very old) friends and shooting and blowing shit up. Togetherness is for badasses!
Now there’s a couple guys that know what I’m talking about!
In celebration of the terrible return of Lundgren et al., I’m taking a look at Contra: Hard Corps, a co-op Genesis classic that helped shape me into the sweet-bastard of a man I am today. It’s quite possibly the manliest game in existence, and I’m pretty sure if not for it I’d still be a virgin living in my mom’s basement whose testicles would be as useless as this dangling modifier. So, put away your weights, tuck the wife and kids in, turn up Austrian Death Machine, and grab yourself a ham (a whole ham, pussies!) because it’s time to sack up and play Contra: Hard Corps!
Game: Contra: Hard Corps
Console: Sega Genesis/Mega Drive
Release Year: 1994
Created and developed by the company that made “Run-‘n-Gun” games a thing, Konami decided to take logic, kick its nerdy ass, dunk its head in a toilet, and then leave it hanging precariously from a flagpole by the tidy-whities wedged forcibly between its ass cheeks before they sat down to make Contra: Hard Corps. This ended up being the greatest decision they’d ever make in their career. Hard Corps is fucking crazy and intensely difficult with its one-hit kills and constant over-stimulation, and it doesn’t give a shit if you don’t like it or if it even makes sense! But damn if they didn’t at least try to pen a prose between all the explosions.
I really don’t need a well-made plot to put across to me that I must run from the fire.
Apparently, Hard Corps takes place 5 years after the not-quite-as-manly-but-still-pretty-damn-manly Contra 3: The Alien Wars. This information comes straight from Wikipedia because, despite beating the game and getting all 7 endings, I never would’ve known that. And that’s fine by me. All I needed to know is that I’m a member of the Hard Corps, and I can be a dude, a chick for some reason (just in case a filthy bathroom impedes the way, I guess), a tiny robot, and a half-wolf, half-human badass named Fang. There’s a plot involving an alien cell, a back-stabbing scientist, a usurping war hero, and a bunch of weird shit in between, but it’s all inconsequential and unnecessary. Just give me a bunch of shit to shoot and explode and I’m good.
The controls for the game are simple: one button shoots, another jumps, and the other switches weapons. There are four weapons for each character, and a place to hold your bombs. You know, the kind of stuff you’ll find in a real man’s lunch box. Beyond that, you have a slide move that makes you impervious to all attacks because you’re a badass so shut up, and there’s a double jump if your period is particularly strong this month and you picked the tiny robot.
So, after picking Ray (the dude) or Fang, you start the game. With controller in hand, you…
The game immediately punches you in the face with an entrance worthy of Asgardians and GWAR! Barreling through the street, your vehicle smashes through every out-of-control robot and centipede monster in its path, culminating in you being flung through the windshield and landing perfectly on your feet with gun and trigger finger at the ready. This is how everything should start!
After blasting through some more robots and bullshit and knocking over a building so you can climb up a bigger building, you come across one of my favorite scenes in video game history:
Holy sweet mother of crap…
This huge, lumbering giant Godzillas his way through a burning city in the background before turning, spotting you, and then leaping miles through the air to murder you. It’s a scene that has always stuck with me since my childhood. The only thing that could ruin such a memorably outstanding entrance would be if he looked like a humungous boob and danced a jig as you fought.
What’s worse is that he’s a total vagina. Stay right under his nipple/pupil and unload on him, and he’ll go down faster than THE Dustin Thomas’s mom after a few PBRs. The only thing that saves this guy is that his name is Maximum Jumbo. I know, right!?
After he explodes all to Hell, you run to the right and are forced to jump off the building and grab on to a… thing. I have no idea what these things are or what their purpose is, but grabbing the third one makes it go haywire and sends you spinning and skidding to your death, taking out half a dozen cars along the way.
Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother Fucker!
Being the hard ass you are, spinning and skidding to your death only pisses you off, especially when the trip is cut short by some asshole in a robot. One building being cut down and a robot-ass kicking later, a mercenary named Dead-Eye Joe reveals himself and runs off, presumably because he has a headache and isn’t in the mood to do anything tonight.
Then, some white-haired scientist starts talking to you somehow (magic, probably) and tells you his research facility is under attack. You then get your first choice in the game: Save the lab or chase Dead-Eye Joe.
There are many cut-scenes with choices that will branch into new story bits and levels, ultimately affecting your ending. It’s a pretty cool mechanic, but I could’ve lived without it. I mean, I don’t really care about the story, so why would I want to change the ending? Just let me shoot shit! I honestly think the game would’ve been better being linear because I hated having to replay levels in order to pick another path so I could play new levels. It’s a small gripe, though. The levels are pretty short, and it’s not so bad if you replay a level with another character. Plus, the sights and enemies you’ll see and meet along the way are well worth it. Like the time you’re in the jungle and get swarmed by a gaggle of tiny Blankas:
THE JUNGLE NEEDS MORE WOMEN!
Or the time when your hover bike grows legs and starts running for no reason:
But you can hover…
Or how about the time you fight a mutated baby’s head that cries blood and pukes maggots while atop a nuclear missile:
Really, Japan!? Really!?
Remember when I said Hard Corps is fucking crazy? ‘Cause it is. And it’s not just mutated whatsits and futuristic whosits that make it bonkers. Take the human soldiers you fight in one of the final levels, for instance. They all just suddenly grab each other and roll at you like they’re some kind of human wheel of death.
I always thought Human Centipede would be better when combined with Contra.
Why do they do this? Who cares! It’s this kind of bat-shit crazy I miss in video games! In the early nineties this was commonplace, especially when it came to Konami-developed or -published Genesis games. And I think I know why. Does the name Treasure ring a bell? It should because they’re freaking awesome. And do you know what they made less than a year prior to Hard Corps’s release? The supremely manly Gunstar Heroes!
I bring it up because I suspect the guys of Treasure may have helped in creating the foundation of Hard Corps before they split from Konami. I don’t have any sources for that; it’s just a gut feeling. I only say it because Gunstar Heroes and Hard Corps have a lot of similarities, most notable is the fact that both games keep the player in an almost perpetual state of boss fight! Because fighting bosses is what men do!
For example, there’s a train level that has two sections of regular enemies: one with crappy foot soldiers and the other with motorcycle dickheads. These sections are very brief on an already short level, and they’re separated by boss fights against twin cock-robots, a retarded gun that flails about and shoots itself, and a huge mech that runs in front of the train and stops it so it can hop aboard and kick your ass (which is replicated in Shattered Soldier, FYI).
Personally, I believe video games can do with less twin cock-robots.
That’s what’s great about Hard Corps. There are so many bosses in it that they just stopped making sense after awhile. There’s one boss that just stacks boxes and knocks them over to kill you. There’s another made completely out of garbage. But I’d have to say that the “Most Pointless Boss” award goes to the Grey Sphere with Legs! It just rambles and dances about and throws its legs at you sometimes until it’s murdered from explosion by continuous gunshots.
Your existence amuses me and warrants death.
Speaking of explosions, did I mention that everything explodes in this game? Seriously. It’s amazing. Everything erupts into flaming brilliance upon contact with something else. Shot with a bullet? BOOM! Run over by a car? KABLOOEY! Punched in the face by a wolf-man? WA-COW! Regardless of what hit it, it’s blowing up, even if it’s human. Because that’s the manly way to go!
Especially when you’re hanging from the ceiling.
But if exploding death isn’t manly enough for you, then might I suggest one of these other manly endeavors in which you can partake, such as Nuclear Warhead Hopping:
This was cool until it got commercial.
Anything involving dangling is masculine.
Promptly followed by Exploding-Jet Surfing:
This is how I get to work every day.
Whatever you consider to be manly is viewed as feminine and wrong by Hard Corps. I freaking love this game, and every beef jerky-eating, lady-killing, man cave-dwelling sum bitch worth his weight in Schwarzenegger DVDs should let this game smack them around for a little bit. Hard Corps is
one manly blast to the face after another an unforgiving, tough-as-nails game that is guaranteed to unscrew your head off and SHIT DOWN YOUR NECK! If this game doesn’t get your balls to drop and motivate you to move your fat ass out of your grandma’s apartment, then I don’t know what will.
Play this game! Then, lower your inhibitions, and go see The Expendables 2!
And Thanks for your Reading!