BLAZING CHROME [Nintendo Switch Review]: The Contra Tribute You Didn’t Know You Needed.

Robert “The DCD” Workman

Six months ago, we needed a game like Blazing Chrome. That’s because Konami hasn’t touched Contra in what seems like ages. The last game in the series that we had seen from the publisher was a poor, microtransaction-laden effort that was laughable, to say the least. But then…boom. Konami came back with a vengeance, not only with Contra Anniversary Collection, but also with the freshly announced Contra: Rogue Corps. So the series came back with flying colors…

But still, leave it to The Arcade Crew and Joymasher to stick with its original plan anyway, and give us an homage to the classic Contra that we didn’t know we needed anyway. The end result, Blazing Chrome, is a 16-bit style masterpiece, a game that you can easily own alongside your Contra classics and enjoy just as much. It’s worth every penny, especially with the unlockables that you can get out of it.

Taking place sometime in the 21st century, the game has you taking on a group of enemy soldiers, both robotic and genetic, with the help of a pair of soldiers. One is a human that doesn’t mind chewing bubble gum and kicking ass; and the other is a robot with a punk haircut and a penchant for pulling the trigger. No matter who you choose, you’ve got some bad-ass weaponry on hand and a lot of enemies to destroy. Along the way, you can pick up secondary bots to help you out, including defensive ones that provide shielding, and an “attack bot” that can give you additional firepower. It helps to keep them safe.

We’re on the highway to hell.

Now, the weapons here can be a mixed bunch, like a grenade launcher that isn’t the most accurate. But the blue flamethrower is very cool, and quite effective against some of the bosses, like a weird, multi-limbed creature that practically surrounds you at some point. So make sure you keep it safe, because you’ll lose it if you die. Fortunately, your general weapon is pretty good in a run-and-gun sort of way.

The game does feature various difficulty settings. But even on easy, Blazing Chrome poses a challenge. You’ll go through your lives pretty quickly if you’re not too careful. Fortunately, the game supports co-op like a champ, and playing alongside a friend is highly recommended. Not only that, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, as you can save the world together.

Have gun, will shooty shooty.

The gameplay in Blazing Chrome is incredibly well balanced, right up there with Contra III in terms of solid mechanics and challenge. It really feels great, particularly with the climbing and jumping. Not once did it feel like things were slipping up. Sure, the roll could use a little work, but that’s hardly something that we consider a deal-breaker, by any means. It’s a wonderful playing game, both on the go and at-home.

What’s more, there’s a lot of unlockables here. Along with Hardcore difficulty, which will put you to bed if you’re not careful, Blazing Chrome also features a neat Mirror mode with reconfigured levels, along with two melee-style characters that pose a challenge in their own right. They’re a lot of fun, and make the hour-plus game well worth playing again.

Yeah, this spider has issues.

But the real treat with Blazing Chrome is its presentation. JoyMasher nailed the 16-bit aesthetic through and through here. The visuals are a tour-de-force in old-school action, from the rotational effects to the animations to the scrolling backgrounds. This looks like something out of the Sega Genesis/SNES era, and it shows in every pixel. It’s pretty incredible, even if the game is a little bit on the short side. What’s more, the soundtrack is outstanding, also out of the era, and the sound effects are a lot of fun, too, even if the death groans are a little tough to take. Hey, that’s just the way the game’s set up. Deal with it, soldier.

In the end, Blazing Chrome easily stands as one of 2019’s big surprises. This is a tribute to Contra that stands toe-to-toe with some of the best from Konami’s series, even with its slight hiccups. It feels wonderful, looks superb and has a lot of great stuff to offer, both on your own and with friends. And the unlockable goods will keep you coming back for more, just because you’re a sucker for punishment. Kudos, JoyMasher. So…how about a tribute to Castlevania next? 4.5/5 “Why didn’t the thirty man live code work?” Complaints.

-Robert Workman

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