Published on April 30th, 2024 | by Gareth Newnham

Contra: Operation Galuga Review (Switch)

Contra: Operation Galuga Review (Switch) Gareth Newnham

Summary: Contra is back, baby!


Get to Da Eshoppa

Contra: Operation Galuga is a huge step in the right direction after the utterly abysmal last entry in Konami’s long-running (and gunning) series.

Teaming up with Wayforward, who previously developed the superb Contra 4 on DS back in 2007, Operation Galuga takes the series back to its action-packed roots in a 2.5D retelling of the OG Contra (hur hur) that nails the look, feel, and pace of classic Contra while adding plenty of modern twists to the formula. 


Galuga opens with Contra Ops Bill and Lance sent to investigate a shady terrorist group that has hauled up on a Polynesian island with a range of microclimates that would make the mushroom kingdom blush, from dense jungles to frozen peaks in what looks like an island the size of the Isle of Wight. 

However, as the pair infiltrate the mysterious island, they discover that Galuga is not just home to an army of dissidents but the makings of a full-blown alien invasion. 

Split into Story and Arcade modes, Galuga takes players through eight satisfying stages that retell the original Contra, with story mode fleshing out the narrative with cut scenes to give the action a little more context. 

Each mission presented a fast-paced cacophony of explosive violence as you blast your way through endless waves of troops, turrets, and alien invaders, including some fantastic recreations of boss battles from the arcade classic. 

As you battle through the forests, villages, and secret labs on the island, new characters join your cause. Each with their own unique abilities, like Ariana, who slides instead of dashes, and Stanley’s glide and grapple that replaces Bill and Lance’s double jump. 

Different characters also have different firing patterns for certain weapons, like Lucia’s spread shot, which hits differently, and Stanley’s machine gun and laser weapons, which fire differently from the other characters. 

Though story mode only lets you play each stage with the characters that have been unlocked at that point in the narrative, Arcade modes let you run through any level with every character you have unlocked so far, along with the Probotector bots that replaced Bill and Lance in the PAL version of Contra on the NES (thanks Germany). 

Once you’ve got to grips with the basics, you’ll want to give the challenge mode a whirl, if only for the amount of credits for completing it’s timed boss battles and handicapped stage runs throws at a player for completion. 

 What sets Operation Galuga apart from many of the earlier entries in the series, though, is the level of customisation handed to the player in terms of difficulty. The frustration of one-hit kills and limited lives are a thing of the past if you want them to be. Along with three difficulty levels and the ability to have a three-hit life bar that can be further extended in the perk shop, how taxing your trip to Galuga Island is entirely up to you. 

Other perk shop unlockables include being able to start a stage with a particular weapon, keeping gun upgrades when you’re hit, or retaining your arsenal when you die. 

This gives the game a level of accessibility that feels refreshing for a series known for being unflinchingly difficult to the point it can turn new players off. (Unless they use the Konami code, cough, cough.)

If you were hoping for a 60fps experience, you will want to take a look at the other console and PC versions, as the Switch sits at a locked 30fps. Although the animation isn’t as smooth as its Playstation and Xbox counterparts, the action does still rumble along at a consistent pace, and what it lacks in frames it makes up for in portability. 

Final Thoughts

Contra: Operation Galuga is the perfect follow-up to Rogue Corps. That is to say, it’s an actual Contra game that’s worth your time and money. It may not be the best game in the series, but it’s certainly up there with the original Contra and WayForward’s own Contra 4. 

If you have a hankering for some running and gunning on the go. Contra: Operation Galuga (on Switch at least) is well worth getting to the eshoppa for. 

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