Ah, Christmas time. I’ve come to associate it with shopping, finals, and all that other junk we’re forced to deal with as soon as the turkey’s been eaten.
Most people find themselves searching for an escape when the holiday season comes around, and in terms of escapes, my forte is video games.
But a recent game I bought just before the holiday season to reduce my stress really has had the opposite effect, as much as I enjoy it.
Konami’s “Contra: Shattered Soldier” is the Japanese game company’s highly-anticipated revival of its classic series, noted for great games on 8- and 16-bit systems.
The revival was tried once before with utter failure, as the two PlayStation games before it were terrible.
Konami hoped to change that by releasing “Contra: Shattered Soldier” for the PlayStation 2, and it has overcome all of the problems that were found in the last disappointing titles.
The game forces you into the role of Bill Rizer, a mercenary so dangerous that he was imprisoned for destroying 80 percent of the Earth’s population, resulting in his being frozen cryogenically.
The remaining 20 percent of the Earth finds that they have an alien invasion on their hands.
They soon realize the only one reckless enough to stop them is their frozen anti-hero.
Bill is thawed out, given a gun, and kicked out the door to stop the impending destruction of society.
Bill’s a hard worker, because his job is not easy. The alien forces never heard the expression “moderation is the key to happiness” as they throw legions of bullet spewing, flame shooting, and missile firing armored monstrosities aimed at destroying you.
Within the span of five minutes, it’s likely that some monster or robot roughly the size of a house will try to tear you apart with an armada of weaponry.
It’s thrilling and it’s beautiful, but because every attack is fatal to Bill, it’s also very hard.
Expect to relieve your Christmas stress with “Contra: Shattered Soldier.”
The game will greet you with a walking tank that wipes you out with a laser beam, or a swarm of missiles, or perhaps by just punching you with an armored fist as big as you are tall; it’s game over shortly thereafter.
You’ll have to fight each of the “Contra: Shattered Soldier” foes several times over, learn their patterns and Achilles heels, and then exploit their inadequacies in order to survive the veritable gauntlet of enemies that the game throws at you.
There isn’t a slow moment to be found, and you’re always in danger.
“Contra: Shattered Soldier” is a total rush because of this, and although the frenetic combat is great for people who have the patience to get back on the proverbial saddle as it explodes and sends out a shower of fire, many new gamers may find the difficulty to be extreme.
If you’re a challenge-seeking masochist, however, you might find “Contra: Shattered Soldier” to be a great early Christmas present to yourself.