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Hard Corps: Uprising is Konami's first downloadable entrynote if ReBirth doesn't count in the Contra series for Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network, despite not having the Contra name directly attached to it, although the game makes it pretty clearthat it is indeed part of the franchise. Produced by Arc System Works — best known for the critically acclaimed Guilty Gear and BlazBlue series of fighters — it's the prequelnote the true prequel to the original Contra to Contra: Hard Corps, the spin-off entry released on the Sega Genesis, hence the name.The story of Uprising involves the, well, uprising in the far future against the world's current tyrannical dictatorship, the Commonwealth, and its leader Emperor Tiberius. Leading the Union Forces in the fight is ex-Commonwealth soldier Bahamutnote the final boss of Hard Corps, who deserted and switched sides after realizing it was evil. His unit also consists of fellow soldiers Krystal, a young woman with considerable combat skills whose village was destroyed during a Commonwealth attack and joins the fight so nobody else would have to suffer a tragedy like hers; Harley, a boisterous guy with Cool Shades and an awesome pompadour; and female samurai Sayuri, who forgoes the whole shooting thing in favor of a more close up and personal approach to fighting. Of the quartet, only Bahamut and Krystal are initially available as playable characters, with the other two, as well as Tiberius' right hand man Leviathan, available as premium downloadable content.Gameplay wise, Uprising combines the classic run-and-gun Contra formula — wherein you move forward mowing down hooded Mooks and other dangerous opponents, picking up weapon power-ups and dodging hailstorms of bullets — with the style and some of the mechanics of BlazBlue. By default, your character can sprint forward, double jump and dash in midair, which makes evading enemy fire just a tiny bit easier. In addition to the Arcade Mode's challenge of blowing through all eight stages in a single go with limited lives and continues, there's the more manageable "Rising Mode" where you can use upgrades to your characters purchased with your hard-earned points. These range from increasing your maximum amount of starting lives and health, improving your basic mobility, instantly receiving upgraded versions of weapons when you pick up their corresponding capsules, and adding new contextual moves such as dodging during a run (and counterattacking), reflecting certain enemy shots, or busting through barricades and enemy cover.
Hard Corps: Uprising provides examples of:
Arc Number: 573 (which stands for Konami, in case you somehow didn't know by now) is all over the damn place and probably shows up more than in any other Konami game: the stage 3 midboss and boss are called 573-Tigris and 573-Draconis respectivelynote they are called Kasuga-Tora and Kasuga-Ryu in the Japanese versions, making themselves as Kasuga series, the Rising Mode has an upgrade that gives you 30 lives costs 57,300,000 points to buy and if you use a variation of Konami Code that allows you to buy it without beating the game first with that character, the main menu reads "CODE 573". Finally, the longer you play the game, the more continues you get: the number starts from 3 and goes steadily up to 20 before finally jumping up to, you guessed it, 573.
Badass Biker: Harley. He's seen riding his custom hog in the opening and ending cinematics.
Stage 1 lets any of the players be this while fighting the first boss. Twice.
Bait-and-Switch Boss: The first major enemy you fight is one of the game's standard mooks driving a rather bizarre Cool Car that can detach into two halves, and has an arsenal including a huge mining drill and a flamethrower. After you deplete its life meter, the player and the boss go zooming off a cliff together...and the latter promptly gets devoured by a giant robotic sand worm, who fills in for the now-vacant position of stage boss.
Subverted when you take out the mecha-worm and move on—at the very end of the stage, when you've gotten back on a motor-bike, the camera cuts to the fallen worm...and the mook-driven Cool Car rips its way out of the mecha-worm's body to continue the fight!!
Bragging Rights Reward: By the time you get the "UPRISING R" upgrade (30 lives), you probably won't need it because at that point, you're probably skilled enough to not need it. Not to mention you probably already bought all the other possible upgrades.
Broken Bird: Krystal. Believes her life is irreversibly destroyed and she aims to fight until she dies so that somewhere out there, girls can grow up, go to school, get married and find happiness like normal human beings.
Bulletproof Human Shield: A notable moment of this happens at the end of Stage 7, where Leviathan grabs what should be a one-hit-point mook and uses him to absorb about ten seconds of concentrated fire from the horrible death guns the protagonists are carrying. Apparently the mooks gain many more hit points when they're about to die horrifically.
Cosmetically Advanced Prequel: Hard Corps: Uprising is exactly a prequel to the original Contra, taking place 20 years before. However, the scenes in this game looked advanced compared to the Galuga Archipelago scene in the original.
Difficult but Awesome: Leviathan, more or less. In Arcade mode, playing him means that everything is essentially an One-Hit Kill, but to compensate, gaining access to 2 moves that grant him large amounts of invincibility frames (both of which are superior to the options other characters have since his slide goes farther and lasts longer than Sayuri's palm thrust and each moonsault covers a ridiculous amount of distance and allows you to chuck grenades downwards while performing one) and a permanent moderately strong secondary weapon both mean that he gets hit a lot less often to begin with if played properly.
To a lesser extent, Sayuri. Killing bosses with her goes by in less than a minute if you're skilled enough, but that means you have to get within kissing distance of a boss and give yourself significantly less breathing room than if you're using a gun.
To an even lesser extent, the Heated Plasma weapon power-up. It's not a rapid-fire weapon like the other guns (at first), and its charged attack takes a few seconds to unleash. But then again, Heated Plasma does a lot of damage, and it can consume small-arms fire before it ever gets near you.
Downloadable Content: To the frustration of many, two of the four characters displayed and showed off in the intro, Sayuri and Harley, must be purchased to be used. Afterward, a fifth character, the boss Leviathan, was released.
Drives Like Crazy: In Stage 4, you have cars trying to run you over. Leads to some funny moments when two cars are trying to do it at once and crash into each other. And then of course there's driving on the ceiling later in the level.
Dub Name Change: The bosses have different names in Japanese and English versions.
Kanechikunote 鋼竹 becomes Lotus Wyrm.
Momobyakuyanote 桃百夜 becomes Knight Persica.
Kasuga-Toranote 春日・寅 becomes 573-Tigris.
Kasuga-Ryunote 春日・流 becomes 573-Draconis.
Hakusennote 白扇 becomes Lux Corona.
Kuroyanaginote 黒柳 becomes Celestial Imperator
Asagumonote 朝蜘蛛 becomes Arachne.
Akenoizayoinote 緋十六夜 becomes Knight Lunata.
Hankoukinote 汎甲鬼 becomes Cerberus.
Fujibudounote 富士葡萄 becomes Vitis Engine.
Hohogiitsunenote 火々狐 becomes Tiberius Augustus.
Ishitengu-Onikuramanote 石天狗鬼鞍馬 becomes Tiberius Invictus.
Due to being a counterpart to Bill Rizer, Bahamut is also an expy of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a politician.
Krystal = Millia Rage.
She's actualy more similar to Samus Aran, at least in looks, and her gun is based on her Power Suit. Krystal even has an alternate color scheme, were she looks exacly like ZeroSuit Samus.
She also seems to be a human equivalent to Lucia or Brownie, or a counterpart to Sheena Etranzi from Contra: Hard Corps.
Harley = Potemkin + Johnny.
He also seems to designed as a fully human version of Brad Fang, from Contra: Hard Corps.
Leviathan = Ky Kiske + Chipp Zanuff + Lance Bean.
He also resembles Deadeye Joe, from the original Contra: Hard Corps. Both have lower parts of their faces obscured by their masks, both are chased by the player, both have Noble Demon tendencies, and both fight against the player character, personally, and inside a Mecha.
He's quite similar to Jin Kisaragi too. Both are sometimes at least a bit crazy, had a deep bond with one of the characters, that was broken(Ragna/Bahamut), and consider themselves kind-off the good guy, at least in the begining, despite being on the definitely wrong side of the conflict. Their faces and hair are also definitely similar.
He is also an equivalent of Lance Bean, who was Bill Rizer's former friend in the old Contra titles, and now enemy in Shattered Soldier. Both have accused their former friend (Bill/Bahamut) for the atrocities they have done (Bill has accidentally wiped out 80% of human population and nearly killed Lance. Bahamut has betrayed Leviathan and the Commonwealth Empire.) before becoming enemies.
Tiberius = Colonel, or Master Contra of Neo Contra or Chief Salamander of Contra Rebirth.
Ironicaly, he also seems to be partialy based on Bahamut's apperance and role in the original Contra: Hard Corps
He may be also based off The Triumvirate from Shattered Soldier, if you count the Relic of Moirai fusing with them.
Tiberius Augustus = Justice, or The Triumvirate if you count the Relic of Moirai.
He also resembles in this form, the first two stages of G-Virus mutated William Birkin, especialy with both sharing the overgrown one arm, with a pulsating, giant eye.
Tiberius Invictus = Chaos (or, if you prefer, Valentine from the final battle of Guilty Gear 2: Overture, or the Project C of Neo Contra).
Some of the enemies too. There's one who resembles a Gigafly (from Contra III, Shattered Soldier and Contra 4) that tries to "kidnap" your character by taking them away to the top of the screen.
Both 573-Tigris and 573-Draconis (Kasuga series in the Japanese version) resemble the Magnus Tank series.
573-Draconis from the end of stage 3, seems to be based on the blue battleship/submarine boss from the begining of the second stage in Contra: Shattered Soldier. It also resembles the TIM Gunboat in Neo Contra.
The Lux Corona resembles a combination of Rocket Ninja Sasaki (from Contra Rebirth) and Great Awakening Robo Big Fuzz.
Arachne, the transforming black robot from stage 6, looks, and behaves like a combination of Super Power Robot Yokozuna from Contra: Hard Corps/Shattered Soldier, and the Heli-Robot from the begining of stage 6 in Shattered Soldier.
Eyepatch of Power: Krystal has one due to injuries suffered during the attack on her village. Doesn't stop her from being sexy, though.
In Name Only: The Commonwealth in the game has nothing to do with the real-life Commonwealth of Nations.
Katanas Are Just Better: Sayuri eschews the massive death-dealing rifles of her comrades in favour of a samurai's sword. Considering that, properly-upgraded, it can slice through bosses like straw and can allow for Sword Beams, it's not entirely unjustified.
Tiberius also wields one. It's one of the hints that he's Sayuri's father.
Kill the Ones You Love Implied for Sayuri in her ending cinematic, with her crying after Tiberius' death, as for all the horrible things he's done, he was still her father.
Konami Code: You can use it at the loading screen for Stage 1 to replace the music with a Daisuke Ishiwatari-ified remix of the Stage 1 theme from the first Contra.
You can also use another variation of it (replace B and A with LS/L3 and RS/R3 respectively) in the "Press Start" screen to unlock the ability to buy the upgrade that gives you 30 lives with every continue without beating the game first for every character. Notice the word "buy", meaning you still need to get the necessary 57,3 million points to be able to use it.
Meteor Move: Sayuri can use one if you connect with her upward palm strike. Useful if timed correctly since it has plenty of invincibility frames and the victim also kills any other enemies they come in contact with. Amusingly enough, it can also be performed on power-up capsules and otherwise immobile large flowers.
Money Grinding: There are various methods of doing this to get upgrades...
More Dakka: The Machine Gun power-up is the best example of this, as it turns your lead-spitting rifle into a virtual minigun, especially at the max level.
Nintendo Hard: Well, it is Contra. And it is called "Hard Corps". Not even Rising Mode subverts this.
In Arcade Mode, you get 3 continues. There is an achievement for beating the first stage in Arcade Mode. This is much, much, MUCH harder than it sounds (you only get 3 lives to start, and are only able to use the various evasive moves and character-specific special abilities).
Another special mention is ''Disposable Warrior'' which you have to stock up to 20 or more lives. The main reason this is so hard is because not only are a lot of the lives littered throughout levels, they can reach Guide Dang It level of finding them, not to mention some lives are in very... volatile areas. Thankfully, it's made easier because you simply have to get 20 lives, and you don't need to keep them. Keeping the lives while you climb up to 20 is the hard part.
No Fair Cheating / Anti-Grinding: Attempting to milk a safespot for CP and score will eventually result in a NEGATIVE PENALTY, locking your score for the rest of the stage. That being said, the negative penalty takes a while to activate, meaning that one can theoretically grind for quite some time, die, then go back to the same spot and do it all over again for more points. It also seems to be easily fooled by doing anything except holding the fire button, allowing you to easily get enough points to max out your character several times over before it kicks in if you're bored enough to keep shooting the said respawning enemies manually or park your character on one of the conveyer belts in level 5 so that they're constantly pushed by the boxes coming out of the machine.
One-Hit Kill: The sole reason Vitus Engine is sometimes referred to as the Sayuri killer. It's last attack consists of it rolling around the rim you stand on, and if it hits you, it deals one HP of damage... and sends you flying off the platform into a pit. The only way to avoid it is to successfully hit it, something that only Sayuri has trouble with due to her limited range, especially since it keeps gaining speed with every hit which eventually makes it so quick that it's extremely difficult for her to hit it even with autofire before it hits her.
There's actually an alternate way to defeat it without leaving yourself open to the mercy of the game's collision detection: leaving one of the pillars extending from the ceiling intact and using it to climb up and hang from the ceiling before destroying it allows you to just attack downwards to hit the boss without getting rammed. You still need to take care that the rotation of the rim doesn't cause you to fall down since it moves faster than you do while hanging and thus need to spam airdashes when necessary.
Arachne deserves mention here because every one of its attacks will knock you off and kill you. Tiberis Invictus could qualify too. by the same rule of Arachne and Vitis Engine.
Snipers can one hit kill players as well, but only in Arcade and early Rising Mode as they're technically doing 4 bars of damage per shot (and you can get more than 4 bars of life in Rising Mode).
Robotic alligators in the Jungle (and early Capital Tower) stage. Although getting caught by one of the gators may mean...
The Ripple weapon is also fired much like its Gradius counterpart, albeit with a much shorter range, but it has the benefit of negating and even reflecting enemy shots.
And finally, the Mook Makers and the flying drones they spawn from Mission 8 are both straight from Gradius
In Mission 5 you can hide in boxes like Metal Gear. The game even has similar alarm sound effects.
All the increases to your max number of starting lives in Rising Mode reference previous Contra titles in their names: "Uprising S" = Super Contra, "Uprising III" = Contra III, "Uprising SS" = Shattered Soldier, ect. And then there's the prohibitively expensive "Uprising 30" earned by completing Rising Mode...
One of Krystal's alternate colors gives her outfit the same scheme as Noel Vermillion's; combined with the fact that her rifle looks a lot like Noel's "Zero Gun: Fenrir" Distortion Drive, this is most likely not coincidental.
Likewise, she has Samus' color scheme, heck even the gun is based from her Power Suit!
It wouldn't be from BlazBlue, but the male character has Bang's color scheme. Likewise, Bang has a Hard Corps outfit as well.
Might be bit of a stretch, but the first battle against Tiberius has several things in common with the battle against Colonel in Mega Man X4: both involve high-ranked military men with Commissar Caps that use swords as their main form of offense and can block your attacks in a game where enemies rarely do so and both battles take place near a location with flying battleships.
In Stage 5 with Harley at the start he will say "What is this place?" à la the arcade intro to Super Contra.
The rocket-hopping part in Stage 7 is more than a passing resemblance to the fourth stage (and boss) of Contra III. Only you don't fight the boss this way, and the rockets are flying upwards, not to one side.
Spread Shot: Obviously. While it's still invaluable against Mooks due to its wide field of fire (especially when upgraded), it's not nearly as useful against bosses since each projectile does less damage than a normal shot, you need to get close enough to most bosses in order for all the shots to hit and even then it only equals the damage output of most other weapons.
Traintop Battle: The entirety of Stage 6, including the boss battle with Arachne.
Undying Loyalty: Leviathan is Tiberius' most faithful soldier. This is especially evident when you play as him, and find that he's still loyal to Tiberius even after finding out the truth of the Capital Laboratory in stage 5.
Wake-Up Call Boss: ARACHNE. A boss who teaches you that health won't protect you from falling.
To put this in perspective, imagine you're riding on the top of a train car. Suddenly, you enter a tunnel, and when you come out of it the view has changed to you grabbing on the car for dear life as the camera switches vertically. Then this big mecha comes in, sending out mechanical BEES like his namesake. While it's doing this it's charging up a laser that causes the entire line of cars you're holding onto to explode. You need to dodge both the bees and the lasers while jumping to the set of cars opposite you. Woe to anyone playing Harley at this point.
In Stage 1, a mook gets run over by the first boss. Said boss later gets eaten by a bigger boss. Subverted in that the first boss is piloted by one of the aforementioned mooks, who tears his way out of the bigger boss to continue the fight.
In Stage 2, mooks tend to get caught by alligators. Also, while not in a cutscene, if you're not speeding through the level, you'll see a mook land in an alligator's open mouth.
In Stage 6, one mook gets left behind by the train and subsequently tackled by the player character.