Blazing Chrome (PS4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)

Back when I was a kid and teen in the 8- and 16-bit days, Contra was huge.  It was a run and gun 2-D action game from Konami, and I remember playing it with my friends many times, whether we rented the ones on the NES or later Contra 3 on the SNES.  Now an indie developer has recreated the feel of a 16-bit Contra style game with Blazing Chrome, downloadable on nearly all current game consoles and PC, but reviewed on PS4 here.

It’s the future and alien robots have taken over, but a few straggling human resistance fighters remain.  You can play as Mayra, a tough as nails female fighter, or Doyle, a hulking robot on the good side.  There are secret characters to unlock and play as, too.  You can play alone or go at it with another local player in co-op.  Controls are easy to pick up for any run and gun veteran.  You can run left and right, jump, fire in all directions, and do a dodge roll.  Along the way you may find power-ups like new weapons you can switch to at any time, floating assistant robot shooters, shields, and extra lives.

The game does a great job of keeping that 16-bit feel.  The title screen even has “Mode 7” like scaling effects and all voices are muffled like a Genesis game.  Only thing that doesn’t feel authentic is there is no slowdown.  And if I didn’t know, I’d think this was a long lost Contra game, as even the first stage is very similar to the initial level in Super C.  It really feels like something I would’ve rented back in the day.

After the first stage you can tackle most of the other levels in any order, and you’ll fight all matter of alien bosses and robot soldiers.  Really the only problem I had with this game is that it was way too hard, even on the Easy setting.  I guess that’s the nature of these kinds of games, but I do wish they’d throw us folks with ‘old man reflexes’ a bone every once in a while.  Especially since this is one of those ‘one hit and you die’ games.  You do have unlimited continues, but you may start way early in the stage.  But if you want a challenging game to scratch that Contra itch, this will definitely do the job.

Kid Factor:

Blazing Chrome is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Blood, Fantasy Violence, and Use of Tobacco.  You’ll shoot all manner of alien robots and monsters with futuristic lasers and weapons and even climb in robot suits.  Some enemies explode into pixelly red and green goo when defeated.  I didn’t really see any tobacco use, but there are a scant few curse words in the story text at the beginning of the game.  I played games like this all the time when I was a kid and I turned out OK.  Younger gamers may find it a bit too difficult, though.

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