Konami takes Contra to the next level with this colorful, expanded take on Contra that doesn't take away from the fast paced, difficult nature of the series.
Contra: Hard Corps is the first installment of the Contra series on a Sega system, and also the first Contra game not developed by the original team. However, Hard Corps does not disappoint. It expands the initial playability as well as the replayability with four playable characters, each with their own unique weapons, as well as distinct appearances. There is a storyline with multiple branching paths, different endings depending on what choices you make and how you play/end each level.
The move to the Genesis from the NES gives Hard Corps a visual appearance that is far superior to the NES games. The game runs together much smoother, and has significantly more color. Initially, there is some learning to be done. The bosses may seem intimidating at first, but they have simple patterns. Even a fairly experienced Contra player may have a little trouble at first, however, it only take a few tries at each level/boss to find out what needs to be done.
There are a few flaws in Hard Corps, however. Occasionally, if you shoot a lot (and what Contra player doesn't?) during boss fights especially, there may be an occasional drop in the frame rate. During some stages, the music can be blaring and repetitive. If you have just started playing and are not used to the fast paced nature, you will die a LOT and it will be frustrating.
Overall, Hard Corps is definitely worth getting for any fan of Contra, as well as anyone who enjoys other run 'n gun games. There is a relatively short learning curve, there is replay value in that the different characters have different weapons, and will have to fight the different bosses very differently. Multiple endings and different paths lead to different stages that you won't have played the first time through.