Thursday, June 30, 2022

Best Indie Games For People Looking To Fill The Contra Shaped Hole In Their Hearts

Look, we don’t need to mince words here; Konami is not in a good place right now. Which, unfortunately, means that its incredible lineup of amazing IPs are also not doing so hot. It is easy to spiral the drain of despair, but let’s be more positive – there is hope for fans of these properties.

Related: The Best Run And Gun Games Of All Time

Bloodstained: Curse Of The Moon is one of the best classic Castlevania games ever made, and it isn’t just Castlevania fans who are being serviced: Indie developers are stepping up to the plate and doing what Konami won’t. The last few years have seen the release of some truly amazing run and gun games that all scratch that Contra itch. Those looking for a great Contra game just need to start looking in the right places.

10 Broforce


Broforce: A Rambo-like character causing destruction with knives

Broforce essentially acts as a parody of Contra. It does everything that Contra does but dialed up to eleven. Needless to say, there are going to be a lot of bullets on screen. One of the best elements added by Bro Force is the inclusion of destructible environments. Though, a quick warning, this will cause some havoc in multiplayer if you aren’t careful (and you don’t play a Contra game to be careful, do you?)

On that note, due to the destructive elements, this is a game that is a literal blast with (good-humored) friends. It doesn’t feel as meticulously designed as a great Contra game, but it makes up for that with pure bombast.

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9 Valfaris


Valfaris indie game 2D platform game art

Valfaris is Contra by way of Slain. It has Slain’s brutal, violent world (as well as difficulty), but it has a lot of guns that feel like they came out of Contra and a gameplay style that is more focused on ranged combat (though there are some great melee weapons here too ). While there are a lot of Contra parallels here, it does sometimes feel like the enemies are a little spongier than the typical Contra goon.

Still, this is a great shooting game that has an absolutely gloriously gory aesthetic. It also has a very engaging weapon upgrading system that feels pretty fresh for the genre. Valfaris is simply another excellent indie shooting title.

8th hunt down


Huntdown: A Gatling gun opens fire on a bunch of criminals.

Huntdown isn’t a one-to-one contra-style shooter. It has a number of influences, its own vibe, and slightly different pacing (that includes some cover-based shooting). However, it does deliver a lot of the thrills you would expect from a Contra game. And as far as games go, they don’t get much better than this one. Huntdown is absolutely fantastic.

Related: The Best Modern Retro Video Games

No matter how many run and gun games come out, there are never truly enough. If you are a fan of the genre (and if you are reading this, you probably are), Huntdown stacks up with the best of ’em. It isn’t the most Contra game of the bunch, but it is definitely one of the best.

7 Savage Halloween


Savage Halloween: Run and gun witch gameplay

Indie games can really range in how indie they are. Sure, Hollow Knight is an indie game, but it also received a lot of promotion. Savage Halloween, on the other hand, is as indie as a game on the Playstation Store can be. And here’s the thing, it’s actually super awesome. It is a tough-as-nails, Contra-esque, side-scrolling run and gun title (with a healthy splash of Mega-Man for flavor).

You can choose from a roster of three Halloween-themed heroes, each of which has their own strengths and weaknesses (which is pretty Hard Corps-esque). It can also be had for cheap. If you are a fan of the genre, this is a great title that deserves your attention.

6 Super Time Force


Jump on flying cars in Super Time Force Ultra

Super Time Force is an example of taking an established formula and adding a creative, temporal tweak to it. This game allows you to turn individual runs into an army of shadow warriors who can assist you. Of course, there are limitations to this, but it ultimately allows you to strategically cover a number of positions simultaneously.

The shooting feels great, too. You have a number of different characters that you can switch between, who play dramatically differently from each other. It all comes together to be an enthralling experience that mixes things up while being comfortable and familiar.

5 Axiom Verge


Axiom Verge main character talking to minerva

Obviously, the most front and center influence for Axiom Verge is Metroid. However, while this is a game that takes a number of cues from the Metroid series, the combat feels more like a run and gunner. Ultimately, Axiom Verge may take a few people by surprise with how good the gunplay feels.

One of the places where Axiom Verge really flourishes is in the weapon selection. There is a very nice selection of creative weapons. Many weapons hit at unique angles and have utility based on your current environment. And for the Contra vets, yes, the spread shot is represented in the arsenal. It is almost as if the Contra influences used the Metroid influences as a Trojan horse of sorts.


4 Oniken


Oniken: Cruising the ocean on a hover bike

Oniken is like a mashup between Ninja Gaiden and Contra. You don’t typically have a ranged weapon (outside your grenades), except for in the vehicle sections, that is, which feel ripped directly out of a Contra game. Oniken’s stages will feel pretty familiar to Contra fans, too.

If those elements aren’t enough, Oniken has a little surprise for the Contra fans. A seventh mission opens up once you complete the game, and it features the character Jenny who plays exactly like a Contra character. It is a relatively short experience, but it’s a quality one. Open-minded Contra fans will absolutely find a lot to love here.


3 Next Machina


Nex Machina: Traversing a bullet filled playfield

When you look at the fantastic games coming out of Housmarque, you may think that Matter Fall would be more like Contra, due to its perspective, but Nex Machina really gives off some strong Neo Contra vibes.

Related: The Best Arcade Shooting Games Of All Time

If you are a fan of the (criminally underrated) top-down shooting action of Neo Contra, then this is absolutely a game you should give a gander. Nex Machina will get your heart pumping and your fingers twitching, in a way that every Contra veteran can relate to.

2 Cuphead


Winner of the Indie Game of the year upon release, it is hard to call Cuphead an overlooked title. That being said, some may think that the foremost appeal of this run and gun classic is found primarily in the aesthetics. And while it is a remarkably beautiful game, the gameplay still manages to steal the show.

This is a very boss fight-centric title. So, much more in line with what you would expect from a Shattered Soldier-type experience. And like any good Contra boss, these eventful showdowns have multiple forms. It is pure shooting bliss and hits a lot of similar notes to some of the best Contra games. Cuphead has quite the reputation, but that reputation was earned.

1 Blazing Chrome


Joymasher already gave us Oniken, which is a game brimming with Contra love; how much further could they go? So much further than you could ever imagine. This is a contra game. No, it wasn’t made by Konami, nor was it developed by any of the classic Konami staff, yet it is clearly just an excellent Contra game. One could even go as far as to say that it is one of the best Contra games ever made.

From the fantastic arsenal of weapons that are both familiar and different, to the unique cast of characters who come with their own quirks and fundamentally change the way you play the game, you will instantly be hit by some Alien Wars vibes with a splash of hard Corps. It is just absolutely superb from front to back. If you are a Contra fan, and you have yet to play Blazing Chrome, cancel all your plans, download this game, and enter nirvana.

Next: Run And Gun Games To Play If You Liked Cuphead


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