Genre: Run-‘N-Gun Developer: ISCO/Opera House Publisher: Sega Enterprises/Data East Players: 1-2 Released: 1990
Here’s the plot: Red Falcon got real mad (to the point where he turned crimson instead of red). He gave all of his alien soldiers slightly different costumes and sent them after the Contra gang. Mad Dog got killed in that battle so Scorpion, who just cut his hair a little bit, went after the Red Falcon for reve- wait- that’s not right- I mean…
You play Johnny Ford; the most prolific member of the Narcotics Control Agency (NCA), who mainly stops people from importing dangerous drugs. His father, Dr. Malcom Ford, spent his life creating a formula that could stop drug addiction and his plan came very close to fruition. However, that was when the evil drug lord The Crimson King found out about it and saw the formula as a severe liability to his profits. Therefore, he sent some out some of his men- er, robots, er, robot me- whatever the hell they are, to go kidnap the doctor. I guess that since he went all that way to abduct the doctor, he might as well kidnap the rest of the family too. When Johnny came back home from his previous mission, he found his family missing and (sigh) a note, saying that if he wanted his family back, he’d have to come and get them. We all know what happens from there.
The basic weapon is of course the machine gun. It’s pretty weak, but thankfully, you can accumulate quite a few other weapons throughout the game. That includes a spread shot weapon (just like Contra‘s), a flame thrower (also like Contra‘s), and powerful fusion bomb (I’ll cut a little slack on this since it didn’t come until Contra 3 a couple of years later). You also have some ”backpack” weapons; the Nitro and shower, which both shoot little pellets pass the top of the screen that come down as fire rain. Then there’s the self-explanatory homing missile six-pack. But these particular homing missiles are not too bright, I call them ”stupid bombs” because they a habit of there only being one left on the screen that keeps circling around enemies for as long as they’re alive- thereby NOT allowing you to shoot anymore!
On the slightly innovative side, there’s the ”Super Charge” enhancer. It changes the color of the shots from whatever special gun you have and makes it twice as powerful.
You acquire new weapons by getting keys and you acquire keys by destroying red soldiers. When one is defeated, a small red key will fall where that soldier was. After every level boss, there’s a door to a weapons room. Depending on the level, different weapons take a different amount of keys to get. For example, a spread shot could cost three keys, a Super Charge could cost two, a 500-pack of bullets could cost 1, and a nitro could cost 2. You have to decide which combination of weapons and accessories are best for you on each level, because you only have a six key maximum. So in a way, it’s more like a buying system than a key system. It’s by far the most innovative aspect of the game, but that just might hinder more than help…
Midnight Resistance has some very interesting control; you don’t have to hold the button down all day to shoot- all it takes is one push of a button and you’ll do rapid-fire. You also don’t have to hold down a direction just to fire at a backward or diagonal angle- all you have to do is shoot once and you’ll aim that way until you say otherwise. Of course, you can change the control type to Contra‘s style if you want.
As for the rest of the gameplay, it’s a Contra rip off from start to finish! Run forward, make a few jumps, blast a bunch a straightforward-walking guys dressed in red and blue, meet a few bosses, collect a few weapons, and anything else I missed that ripped it off.
Now that I’ve finally finished talking about the Contra rip offs in the game play… Now I can talk about the Contra rip offs in THE GRAPHICS!
As I’ve made clear, the main character looks just like Scorpion, and the enemy soldiers have a striking similarity to Contra characters too. As for the graphics, they’re pretty average. Nearly every sprite in the game is too small, and the backgrounds are too bland. On most stages you just see tiny clouds, some two-color trees or some computer rooms that look like the set of a 50’s sci-fi movie. You’ll never see anything cool and vivid like a background full of buildings or mountains. The animation is quite sloppy too; just look at how the characters walk! Two frames! Most of the bosses lack animation too.
Sega boasted a lot that this game had 8 megabits of memory, but maaaaan, they could’ve fooled me with that AWFUL amount of slowdown and disappearing sprites!
There are different sounds for each individual weapon firing, but the sounds are VERY quiet because they’re drowned out by the music. The flame thrower sounds exactly how it should, and the machine gun sound is pretty good too but not being loud enough really hurts them, and that’s a problem you can’t cure by turning the volume up. The one sound that they SHOULDN’T have made loud (those cheesy explosions) is cranked up to the max!
The only music that even halfway goes with the situation is the boss fighting music. Other than that, it’s boring to a point that I would even like irritating music better! ANYTHING is better than this! To top that off, you only hear four themes throughout the entire game! And to top THAT off, they all sound the same! Trust me, it took three full play-throughs to discover that there was more than one tune!
For bosses, I get to fight some evil giant clocks and a mannequin that shoots lightning at me! And for normal enemies, I get to fight a bunch of guys that look just like Contra‘s. However, they’re two very cool bosses on this game; one is a plethora of planes that fly at you one at a time while dropping missiles. the other is a HUGE battleship that sails in from the background and has about 20 cannons shooting at you at the same time.
As for the actual levels, they really try to spice them up sometimes. Making them like arenas or having you go up a four-piece elevator. The result is not that good, however. They never really make you have to do something different. Speaking of different, I bet that there are no more than five enemies that you fight more than twice!
You can select between four difficulty modes, 1-5 lives, and 1-5 continues. So it can suit nearly any taste. However, no matter how much you change around the continues, it still won’t erase the fact that nearly EVERYTHING is dependant on the first continue! Losing a continue gives you a BIG disadvantage on the later levels! Having a lot of weapons gives you a bit too much of an advantage over the normal weapon. Heck, if you have the right combination, you can waste the last two bosses before they even get a CHANCE to attack! By the way, there’s one particular level where you have no choice BUT to lose at least two lives unless you have certain combinations!
As for the actual fighting, most enemies on the game are one-attack-pattern-based. It should only take an average player about five tries to beat it.
The game has about ten levels, but they’re all pretty short. You can probably beat it in one hour. So after the few tries it takes, you’ll probably never want to play it again in ten years. But if you somehow like the game, you might want to try finishing it using a different combination of weapons each time. But I seriously doubt that you’ll want to do that.
Despite all of my trash-talking about this game, I still think that it’s worth buying. Simply because you can get it for 1.50 at Funcoland or somewhere! It’s a bit of fun the first one or two times you play through.
SCORE: 5 out of 10