198594_largerThe tale of the official iOS Contra game is a weird one. First, we discovered that a remake of the original game with new visuals, new playable characters, and the "bonus" addition of in-app purchases surfaced on the Chinese App Store back in January, called Contra: Evolution. It looked pretty cool, and a few months later it seemed like the game would see a release outside of China. Sure enough, at the end of May, Contra: Evolution did end up hitting the US App Store.

And then it was promptly pulled.

Gah, can a Contra fan catch a break? Well, apparently that May release was unintentional, as Konami and Punchbox Studios, who were handling the iOS version, still had some tweaks, optimizations, and localization to complete before blessing us with the true international release. That day has finally come though, and Contra: Evolution [Free / Free (HD)] is now properly released in the US App Store as of right now.

When it was accidentally released a month ago, I thought Contra: Evolution was just "ok" as, unsurprisingly, it was pretty difficult to control with a touchscreen. Also, the IAP was kind of ridiculous, offering continues, extra lives, and certain weapons that could only be obtained by purchasing the premium currency with real money. Well, after pulling the game to tweak some of these things, the official version actually is an improvement over the accidental release. It controls much better now, and some of the in-app purchase stuff is now available using the in-game currency you can earn just through playing. Good job Punchbox.

Of course, this is still a notoriously difficult game, so I wouldn't say that Contra: Evolution is all rainbows and puppy dogs. But if you're a fan of the series and want a solid run 'n gun shooter for your iOS device, you'll likely enjoy what's on offer here. More impressions can be found in the forum thread and if you're up to the challenge, both intrinsically and due to touch controls, then grab Contra: Evolution with the links below as we continue to dig further into the release. Oh, and if you happened to download this when it accidentally released in May, then the revised version should show up for you as a free update.

  • Jetjet

    IAP makes me think before pushing the "buy" button

  • Taeles

    I see gamecenter, does that include achievements?

  • loganexplosion

    Except it requires a connection and IAP to play. They really E.A.d this game up. Auto fire?? GARBAGE! How did i fall for this again?! Always check the Most popular IAP section people. Can't BELIEVE mobile gaming is going in this direction. Especially for a 26 year old game! I'll just stick with my emulators...

    • Jake7905

      Are you sure it requires a connection to play? Didn't see it in the game description, but that would kill it for me.

      • xx99

        I have no idea what he's talking about. Just played in Airplane mode without issue.

    • xx99

      You can turn off auto-fire. Haven't played with the new version (I got the accidental May release), but I found the auto-fire to make the game much easier to handle with virtual controls. Sure, it makes it harder to time your shots, but most of the time that's not a big problem.

  • vic_viper_001

    The Contra I knew relied simple badassery such as jumping, spreadshot guns, and shooting things. Not "leveling up", paying "gold", and using "diamonds" to continue.

    Contra 4 > Contra "Evolution" any day of the week...

  • Reignmaker

    For a game that requires as much precision as Contra, I'm curious what makes Konami and Punchbox think this would be a great fit for touchscreen devices.

    If I had to guess, someone is thinking about the money of a big-name property before practical application. The pay-to-win IAP doesn't alleviate this assumption.

    • loganexplosion

      I figured since the Konami X-Men arcade game was so badass, this would be a simple port +graphics. Boy was I wrong!!

  • Goggles789

    I actually just redownloaded this and I beat it easily this time around. The controls aren't perfect, but they are very workable. The autofire can be turned off, though I don't recommend it. The IAP is SUPER FAIR now, in regards to continues. You can continue with either diamonds, which you have to use real money to get, or use gold, which the game rewards you with in great supply upon completing a level. I played from start to finish and never ran out of gold. The screen feels a little cluttered with IAP stuff, but that's a very small issue. The only place I noticed control difficulties was when I fought the UFO boss in the Snow Area. Screw that thing...but this is a great improvement from the first release of this game. Yay Contra!

  • extol4000

    Paying for continues put the nail in the coffin for me. In tired of these companies pimping game franchises in order to make consumers who love that franchise pay more money! I don't mind IAP's but Only when their done tastefully.

    • xx99

      You can now also continue with gold which is earned in-game. It's disappointing that the Konami code (30 lives) has been reduced to a one-time IAP, but it's really much better now than it was in the May release.

    • Goggles789

      You don't have to pay extra money to play the game. It's entirely optional. I beat the game twice in a row without spending a dime. Your extra life cap increases progressively, and you can use in game currency to continue that is awarded after every level. It's really a blast to play now that they have improved the balance of the IAP and more importantly, the controls.

  • Markaroni

    I would say to the dev team is please allow us to be able to minimize or maximize the size of each and every button including the joystick,also we need placement of those controls to our liking,as for me I would like to minimize them a little and place that joystick as far as I can,in the left/bottom corner,I find when I'm in the water in the bottom left corner the joystick is covering me completely,being able to place the stick would help a bit,but I think I might just have to avoid going in that area all together.

  • blakedaking

    Ima have to pass on this game. I do not want to have to worry about spending more money after I buy the game. Would rather spend 4.99 and not have to worry

    • Goggles789

      You don't have to spend extra money to play. I played through the entire game twice today and didn't spend a dime.

  • ExcaliburEdge

    ^^vvBA[START]
    Does it still work?

  • CT Eon

    Quick question has anyone tried both HD and iPhone version yet?
    Feel the huge urge to get the iPad version but not sure if there is any actual graphical difference...anyone who can help? :)