2019 will be the year of walking and guns! Previously, Konami’s Contra Anniversary collection brought together some great 2D games in one package. We get a brand new sequel called Contra Rogue Corps in September, but it looked difficult at E3 and nothing in that trailer tickled my bones with nostalgia like JoyMasher and The Arcade Crew’s new game, Blazing Chrome. If you’re not tired of action races and 2D shooters, this game will definitely help you to fill the void.
Everything about the Blazing Chrome video game screams the ’90s. From the pixellated title screen with zooming effects to the story of the Terminator scam (robots standing up to mankind) and its graphics and gameplay. The developers clearly researched what brought the games back to the era of the Super NES and Genesis, and did a great job to create a whole new experience that seemed to distort time in the future. There are so many similarities with Contra III: Alien Wars that you would be forgiven for thinking is what is on TV when you catch your friend playing this game. Still, it contains a lot of original content and it looks like it could be the official sequel to this classic, developed by Konami right after that.
Once the game starts, you can select one or two players and then choose the difficulty settings from simple to normal (Hardcore opens after you have played the game in normal mode). Easy Mode gives you 7 lives instead of 5 and supports pods that can help with repairs, but you can’t compete in the rankings, a feature promised for a later date. When you play the game for the first time, you can choose between two characters: De Moor: a soldier with a big gun, or Doyle: a spear-throwing robot with a red mohawk who joined the human revolution. Two more characters will be unlocked. From there we get a short tutorial which we can go through and which shows a number of different movements. The game is done with the usual tricks like running and shooting, but you can also dodge, roll, and if you hold down the R-shoulder button, you can hit the ground and shoot in any direction. There are places on the stages where you can hang from metal rods, and there are special robot-mechanics where you can jump in, giving you even more firepower.
Speaking of guns: You’ve got your main machine gun firing automatically, and three others you can get hold of by blowing up small boxes. There is a laser beam that lasts longer and is more powerful if you hold down the ignition button and then release it. There’s a purple energy cannon that fires a series of eleven bullets in a row, which you can then rotate 360 degrees like a whip to hit enemies coming at you from all directions. You can switch from one button to the other at any time, but if you die with the gun in your hand, it disappears. There are also defensive (shields and boosters) and offensive (think of Gradius’ options that add firepower) options that help you by providing you with boosters such as shields or boosters. It’s funny to see that the characters on the one hand are fighting machines and on the other hand are very comfortable with the use of other robotic technologies in battle. I’m not sure I feel safe!
A big difference with Blazing Chrome is that you can choose from four levels from the start. Every time you completely destroy or reach a scene, you come back to the scene selection screen, which is really amazing in a game like this where sometimes you just can’t get past a scene completely. That way you can take a break and continue trying to deal with the situation. Everyone has a different level of difficulty, but sometimes I think the higher ones were easier for me than the easier ones, and that can be the case for you too, so if you get stuck, don’t be afraid to go to another level. You won’t have access to level 5 until you’ve gone through everything else.
Certain modern sensibilities have been implemented in Blazing Chrome, which I appreciate. Perhaps the most important thing is that the game automatically records the progress of your level. So, if you have already completed a level and leave the game when you return, you will be asked if you want to continue. It’s especially fun when we play in Portable mode, like I did, and people came and we wanted to play a different game. I immediately thought I had to start over, but when I reloaded the game, I was able to continue where I left off. Other options, such as disabling the automatic weapon exchange when picking up a new weapon and disabling the rumble, are also very useful.
As I mentioned earlier, this game seems to belong to the Super Nintendo, with beautifully detailed and animated sprites. I think it’s great that some enemies on the screen are zoomed in using the 16-bit scale technology that was common at the time. The game runs much faster and easier than it could at the time, and there are no signs of flicker or delay. The color scheme seems a little more discreet than some SNES games at the time, and that’s why I often opted for Contra: The vibrations of the case (Genesis). There are tons of parallax scrolling and other graphic tricks that really seal the deal. The explosions blink harder, there is more blood and the action is smooth as butter. They have huge patterns and memorable settings. In other words, I wouldn’t change anything except maybe add a little more color in a few places.
Even the sound is from that time, with distorted voices and synthesized music. The game has some short memorable movies, like when you go on stage, which reminded me of Contra, and the actual background music is pretty good. It sounds more like something you may have heard in the arcades at the time, not necessarily something from the Super Nintendo. There’s good music here, but it’s not something you keep in your head for weeks.
Like many games, Blazing Chrome is not easy to beat. Without a code of 30 (at least none that I know of), it may take some time to go through all the steps. The levels are pretty long and fortunately you have some challenges in the beginning. Saving the game after each step certainly helps, and adding a second player makes the game much more accessible. Look, I know there’s a lot of independent tossups coming out every week that look good, but can never play on base. It is rare for a new game to match and even surpass the original, which is not easy! I had a great time playing Blazing Chrome and those of you who have a soft spot for the Contra games of the past should have fun too!
Transparent Chrome Overview
- Graphs – 9/10
- Sound – 9/10
- Gameplay – 9.5/10
- Late call – 7.5/10
Final thoughts: EXAMPLES
It is rare that a contemporary independent game rivals or even surpasses the inspiration of intellectual property, but Blazing Chrome somehow manages to capture the essence of Contra III perfectly, with a touch of modernity. If you like a cooperative race and two-player shooting, this game should now be on your Switch.
Craig has covered the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published in various media. He is currently editor and employee of Age of Games.
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