When the GameBoy was first released, many of the current-gen Nintendo hits soon saw their own adaptations
on the little 4-color wonder. Amazingly, these games weren't just shrunken down direct ports of their
NES bretheren. In almost all cases, these were all-new games engineered specifically for the GameBoy.
Contra received its own place in the spotlight on the little handheld that could in the form of
Operation C. I don't know many people at all who've heard of it, let alone played it, but I can
assure you that they're missing out on one of THE best in the Contra series. I know, it sounds strange
even when I say it, but the game's really that good. Why? Well I'll tell you.
First off, as mentioned above, Operation C isn't just a port of the NES hits Contra or Super C. Operation
C plays more like a remixed version of both games taking what was good about each and dropping in a
few new things here and there, but never repeating anything gameplay-wise found in the originals. Stages, enemies,
and bosses are all brand new and are all quite fierce in their methods of attack. The only thing that
gets carried over almost 100% from the previous games is the original NES Contra soundtrack, which has
been teensy-fied down for the GameBoy, but it still retains its catchiness and the melodies are instantly
recognizable if you've played the original.
It's a GameBoy game so what can I really say about how the game looks and sounds? It's 4 colors, white
to black. But Operation C does use its limitations to the fullest of the GameBoy's ability. Character
sprites and enemies are easily visible on the screen as are your's and your enemies' bullets. The
backgrounds pack a surprising amount of detail. They're not works of art by any means, but they do
stand out and manage to look quite good given the system's limitations.
Sound is pretty stellar as well packing along the NES Contra's soundtrack as the symphony for the
destruction you're creating on screen. The stage themes are 100% faithful to the material and still
manage to sound pretty good. Weapon sound effects are pretty standard. There's only about 2-3
sound effects in all and they don't really intrude too much on the gameplay, so they get a passing
grade from me.
Gameplay-wise, it's Contra. You'll run, jump, and mow down every single obstacle that stands in your
way or die trying.
The game's 5 stages all possess their own unique challenges and sets of enemies
and can all be quite brutal at times. The bosses all pack their own challenging but fair
attack patterns and can all be felled with just the right amount of persistence and Contra Skill. The controls are absolutely spot on, so you won't be missing
jumps or shots because the game isn't responding fast enough, because the controls are just as
tight as they should be for a Contra game.
Short, sweet, and to the point. Just like this review. Operation C does exactly what it should do
as a Contra game. It's sad that this game was overlooked in the flood of games that were being
poured out for the GameBoy at the time, because this really is one of the true bright spots of the
entire Contra franchise. If I could change only one thing about this game, it's that I'd have
given it 2-3 more levels, but what's there is more than enough to keep action junkies happy.
Bottom line: If you see it, pick it up.