CONTRA: SHATTERED SOLDIER
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Native Platform: Sony Playstation 2
Publisher: NTSC-J: Konami
Release: NTSC-J: October 22, 2002
NTSC-U: November 11, 2002
PAL: February 14, 2003
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After the disastrous result of hiring Appaloosa, Konami themselves handled the PS2 titles. The first one, Contra: Shattered Soldier, attempted to bring back the classic side-scrolling action. That is essentially what this game is all about. It is a 2D perspective run-n-gun in a 3D world. Simultaneous 2-player mode is retained, however, bosses take twice the amount of damage to defeat in 2-player mode.
The plot takes place a few years after the events of Contra III. Bill is held responsible for the near extinction of Earth’s population and for murdering his partner, Lance. He is, however, released from prison to be tasked to stop a new terrorist organization, Blood Falcon. He is aided by Lucia, a female android assigned as assistance and surveillance to Bill. As he progresses in his mission, he learns many secrets and revelations about the alien threats he faced in the past and about his own life.
The levels play just like in Contra: Hard Corps, filled with bosses, but a return to 2 playable characters. You can play as Bill and/or Lucia. However, the gameplay has taken many controversial turns. The biggest change is the introduction of a hit rate system. At the end of each stage, the player is ranked based on their performance: number of lives lost, percentage of select objects/enemies were destroyed, etc. The rank ranges from D to A, and then S (for 100% hit rate).
The other major change is that the player has 3 preset guns throughout the game: a machine gun, flame thrower and grenade launcher. These guns have a charged alternate shot. There are no pickups of any sort. You can play the first 4 of the 7 levels in any order. Completing each stage unlocks it in the Training mode, where the stage can be played freely for practice. Other gameplay elements include increasing credits and starting lives by playing through the game numerous times and unlocking features through completing the game with different rankings.
While a save feature is included, it does not save the player’s progress during a given session. Instead, it records the unlocked features, number of games played (referred to as the War Record,which is used to provide additional starting lives based on the number of times the game is played), etc. As a result, the game must be completed in a single session.
The continue system is similar to its more recent canonical predecessors, including Contra III. The continues are provided in the form of credits; these can either be used after the player loses all of their lives, or by selecting the option from the pause menu during game play. There are 2 difficulty modes, Easy and Normal. Each varies in starting number of lives, continues and credits. In addition, Easy mode is limited to the first 4 stages.
Although many have enjoyed this game’s return to classic Contra gameplay, especially after the release of the PS1 titles, the drastic changes were not well received. Some of the levels can only be accessed by attaining a high overall hit rate; the ending is also determined by the hit rate. This is very problematic since Contra: Shattered Soldier is notoriously difficult as it is. Losing lives is a common part of the series and so is avoiding certain enemies while progressing. In this game, the player is penalized for both, essentially requiring no-death runs, a feat that is hard to accomplish with any of the Contra titles.
Therefore, some feel the experience is ruined by the game’s high expectations. Contra: Shattered Soldier is entirely pattern-based. The limited arsenal is another point of criticism, lacking variety and requiring specific strategies in all situations. Some have disliked the change in visual style, going from a variety of vivid colors to a decadent palette.
Note: The Japanese and North American versions were released in CD format, while the PAL version was released on DVD.
Subscribers of the Official Playstation Magazine had a chance to play a demo version of Contra: Shattered Soldier in the Volume 63 demo disc, released in December of 2002. The demo features the second stage of the game.
Stage 1: Fortress
Stage 2: Train
Stage 3: City
Stage 4: Seabed
Stage 5: Archipelago
Stage 6: Abyss
Stage 7: Final Battle
In 2642, Earth comes close to an extinction event as 80% of its population is killed by malfunctioning weapons of mass destruction. Bill Rizer is held responsible for the travesty, as well as murdering Lance Bean, who attempted to stop him. He is sentenced to 10 000 years in cryo-prison, but is released in 2647. A new terrorist organization, Blood Falcon, rises and wreaks havoc on civilization. The federal government, referred to as the Triumvirate, pair Bill Rizer with a female cyborg, Lucia, to take down the organization.
Early in their mission, they confront the commander of Blood Falcon and discover that he is Lance Bean. Lance claims that Bill is unaware of the truth and threatens to kill him if he continues to interfere with his operations. In a flashback, it is shown that Lance attempts to reveal something before dying in Bill’s arms. Later, the triumvirate are shown conversing about the situation; there is some concern regarding the rapid progress of Bill and Lucia and their suspicions about the mission. The triumvirate also mention analyzing a relic and it being the key to a revolution and their desire.
Lance is eventually tracked down to the Galuga Archipelago. Despite the superhuman powers he exhibits, the heroes manage to subdue him. In a last-ditch effort, Lance fuses with an alien to stop Bill, but fails.
At this point, the plot progression is determined by the player’s rank.
C rank: As Lance is dying, he reveals the truth behind all of the alien invasions. Red Falcon’s original arrival to Earth was to retrieve a relic that Earth’s government stole from a temple on the planet Saturn. Bill and Lance had been pawns to the government to stop the aliens and let the government exploit the stolen relic. The government tried to kill Lance for learning the truth; to erase all traces of evidence and maintain power, they destroyed most of Earth and framed Bill for both crimes. In a desperate attempt to survive and spread the truth, Lance hybridized with an alien embryo. Though he survived, it took control of him. Shortly after Lance dies, the island that Bill and Lucia are on is obliterated by a powerful laser from an satellite orbiting outer space.
B rank: From the ending in the C rank, the island is not destroyed. Bill and Lucia enter a warp and confront the Triumvirate in their world. The Triumvirate believe to have mastered the power of the relic and fuse with it. However, the fusion goes awry and they are absorbed into a divine alien entity that is out of their control. Despite its power, the entity and its many forms are ultimately killed. Bill and Lucia return home through the warp to Earth.
A rank: An additional battle is fought as Bill and Lucia escape and the Triumivirate’s world rapidly collapses. The divine form is a heavily mutated amalgamation of all its forms and attempts to stop the heroes, but fails. After returning to Earth, they are greeted by a grateful crowd of people on the ground.
Secret ending: This ending is unlocked by completing the game with an overall S rank. Bill engages in a battle with Sparkster of the Rocket Knight Adventures series (see here), and loses.
Bill Rizer – protagonist; playable
Lucia – protagonist; playable; female cyborg assigned to assist and monitor Bill
Lance Bean – antagonist; originally assumed to be dead; leader of the Blood Falcon organization, whose true intentions were to expose the corrupt government
Blood Falcon – antagonist organization; led by Lance Bean
Triumvirate – primary antagonist organization; composed of the 3 alien entities Gaius, Nero and Commodus; originally assumed to be Earth’s federal government with well intentions, they are responsible for the numerous past alien invasions and the tragic events surrounding this game’s setting; their desire for power can only be satisfied by a powerful relic
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•Slave Beast Taka
•Super Power Robot Yokozuna Jr.
•Survival Of The Fittest
•The Crawler Tank
•Sky To The Ocean
•Submarine Power Plant
•The Dusk Gathers
•Relic Of Moirai
•Critical Moment Of Contra
•A True Last Boss
•Stage Clear Jingle
•Special Stage Clear Jingle
•Game Over Jingle
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Contra: Shattered Soldier has not yet received any conversions.
•Sony Playstation 3
•Sony Playstation 2
•Contra: Shattered Soldier Promo Disc (Sony Playstation 2)
•Contra: Shattered Soldier E3 Preview Build (Sony Playstation 2)
•Contra: Shattered Soldier Beta (Sony Playstation 2) (1)
•Contra: Shattered Soldier Beta (Sony Playstation 2) (2)
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There are currently no known variants of Contra: Shattered Soldier.
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