Remember the old days of action games? They were the days of jumping and shooting, and one of the undisputed kings of the arcade was Contra. With an insane level of difficulty meant to facilitate you pumping the cabinet full of quarters. It was a classic game that bored its way into the hearts of gamers everywhere. Contra Evolution is the first official release of a Contra game for the iOS. Can it live up to its legacy and provide an action packed challenge that is out of this world? Lets find out.

Mad Dog and Scorpion are back again to blast the hell out of some aliens. This duo of manly men with big guns have travelled to South America to save the world from aliens. It sounds like a fairly mundane afternoon for a pair of guys with macho names. Contra Evolution brings along the ethos of the original while giving the classic game a more updated feel.

The look and design of Contra Evolution is quite spectacular. It looks and feels like a modern game. That is quite a feat considering it is the rebirth of a classic. It dances the fine line between paying homage to the original without being mired in nostalgia. You have the normal side scrolling levels paired with a more three dimensional shooting gallery type levels. It keeps the action varied and enjoyable.

The controls are as simple as could be and that is a great thing. In a time when ambitious control schemes often clutter the screen, Contra Evolution keeps things basic. You have the option of three movement virtual control pads, but I would choose the classic one that looks like a D-pad. Also, you have an autofire feature. From the moment the level loads, your character keeps firing until you beat the boss or die trying. You can also select to turn this feature off, but you’d be well advised to keep it on. It makes it so you don’t have to worry about the trigger and focus on avoiding incoming fire. The controls are responsive, if a bit finicky when firing in different directions, and they take a bit of getting used to. Occasionally it becomes a bit of a fight with them while you're trying to negotiate the insane level of difficulty, but for the most part they work alright.

As it was in the original, one brush with anything death dealing and your character is losing a life. It makes for an insane difficulty challenge. While the controls are good, they aren’t quite as a good as a joystick and sometimes the virtual controls can get in the way of the gameplay. With ordinance flying in every direction, you need as much screen real estate as you can get in order to dodge anything incoming.

Like the original arcade game though, you're given a set amount of lives and continues before you have to pony up a bit more cash. It is like pumping quarters into the cabinet, just through an in app purchase. Thankfully though, the title gives you a decent amount of continues right from the start and you'll have to really try to die before you have to drop some more quarters to continue.

Contra Evolution is exactly that. It is an evolution of the classic with some updated graphics and some tweaks to the controls. Contra Evolution is a solid retread of a classic that adds a couple new features to keep the things interesting. But the somewhat tricky controls hold it back from being absolutely perfect. If you're a fan of action and the original Contra, then this is about as perfect as you're gonna get. I mean, who doesn't love jumping and shooting at some aliens even if the lightest brush with plasma energy will turn you to dust?


Store Link: Contra: Evolution for iPhone & iPad | By Punchbox Studios | Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.1.0 | 47.9 MB | Rating 9+

7.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating