In a world overtaken by
aliens robots, mankind’s only hope is one-or-two trigger happy rebels who can run, jump, and blast everything in sight. Even with the “obvious” difference in enemy types, I wouldn’t blame you for mixing up Blazing Chrome as a successor in the Contra series. Though it doesn’t bear the name, it certainly packs the same punch while making a number of meaningful improvements to the formula.
Before you set off on this journey, you get to choose between one of two heroes. They’re identical in their play style, but it’s nice to have the choice between playing as a male or female character. If you beat the game on Normal difficulty, you unlock two new characters who play more like Strider Hiryu. Beating the game and unlocking those characters, Boss Rush mode, and mirror mode are all great rewards. However, that victory won’t come easy.
Taking heavy cues from its source material, it is a bombastic romp through six levels of white knuckle action. One moment, you’re riding a speeder bike, shooting down helicopters. The next, you’re hanging from ledges, jumping upwards as a mechanical spider chases you from below. During one of the game’s craziest moments, you strap on a jet pack and fly through a winding tunnel, avoiding obstacles and blasting mechs along the way. Blazing Chrome absolutely nails the frenetic run-and-gun action.
In certain ways, it actually surpasses it. Pressing down and the jump button triggers a tactical roll that allows you to pass through enemies and dodge bullets. Though I still died plenty, it does add new ways of escaping tight situations, especially during specific encounters where it’s required. Besides the standard suite of weapons, assist bots can give you an extra gun, a double jump, and shields. Personally, I find the defence bot to be the most useful. In a game with single-hit kills, the defence bot is basically two extra lives.
Most interesting is the melee attack. This powerful swipe does a lot of damage to enemies at point-blank range. For enemies that have high health that rush at you from awkward angles, smashing them is your best option. However, melee is the same button as shoot and only triggers when an enemy is close. Press too early and you get a shot instead of a swipe, leading to an inevitable death. Including this mechanic adds another level of depth to a well-worn formula.
Your testosterone will be pumping, but so will the veins in your forehead as you die repeatedly. Again, just like Contra, you’re in for quite the challenge. Thankfully, the game gives players a few quality-of-life improvements. For starters, there is an Easy mode that’s…a smidgen easier. You get a few more lives per run and access to support capsules that will blow up large swaths of enemies in the area, but the challenge is still fierce. Better yet is the fact that Easy and Normal modes grant players unlimited continues and you restart from checkpoints instead of the beginning. I wouldn’t have beaten the game without unlimited continues from checkpoints. After defeating Normal, you unlock an even scarier Hardcore mode. Can you power your way through with only three lives and three continues? If you want to take things even further, the game has online leaderboards and built-in features to support your speed-running efforts.
While the game runs butter smooth 99% of the time, there are a few points where the Nintendo Switch version struggles. You will see frame drops during a small sample of the game’s hairier moments. Most egregious was one moment where the game completely froze for a second before resuming. Can’t compare it to the other versions, but I can’t imagine this being a problem on PS4 or PC. Even so, these issues are rare and didn’t negatively impact my overall experience.
In an age where Konami has struggled to make Contra work in modern times, Blazing Chrome is simultaneously a welcome throwback and meaningful step forward. It has a tremendous understanding of what it wants to be and pulls it off to near perfection. Odds are, the minor technical issues I encountered were Switch-specific. Even so, I’d still recommend this on Switch or whatever your platform of choice may be. Just be prepared for a serious fight!
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