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[Interview] Contra: Rogue Corps director on the game’s origins, E3 2011 tease, working on the series for over 25 years, more

Posted on September 28, 2019 by (@Oni_Dino) in Interviews, Switch

Contra: Rogue Corps, the latest entry in the series, finally launched on Switch this week. At the Tokyo Game Show, we had an opportunity to speak with director Nobuya Nakazato to discuss the title in greater detail and chat about a few other topics.

During our interview, Nakazato spoke about Rogue Corps’ origins and more. We also asked about that Contra game Konami teased during its E3 2011 event, what it’s been like working on the IP for over two decades, and more.

Here’s our full discussion:

Can you talk a bit about how Contra Rogue Corps came to be? What was the inspiration behind this particular project?

As you may now, it’s actually our 32nd anniversary for Contra. What a better time to celebrate the series as a whole? One of the reasons why we kicked off this project is because we’ve seen a lot of just fan hype based around when the games were released within the Famicom Mini series. So that’s when we realized we have such a huge fan base, and there’s a lot of people who actually love Contra out there worldwide. Right now there’s a retro gaming boom, it’s trending, and we thought this would be a perfect time to bring such an iconic, retro IP back into modern gaming.

As for the inspiration for Contra: Rogue Corps, the original Contra is very iconic for couch co-op play where you play together. This time, we kind of watched to switch it up and make it more of a team-based co-op game, and that’s why in this title you get to play with up to four players and not just two.

How long has the game been in development?

If you include the very, very beginning (stages), it’s around three years.

The Contra series had been on hiatus for nearly a decade. Why was this the right time to finally bring the IP back?

It was very hard to kick off the project just because we needed to find the right kind of momentum and timing. Obviously I really wanted to make another Contra game. I’ve been really pushing – I just couldn’t find the right push, and couldn’t get approval for such a project to do it out of the blue.

Also, one of the difficult things is finding the right team to work on such a game, and even just the staff and resources we have at the time, but what really pushed forward with the project was… one of the things that was very memorable to me was working on Contra games, and I know the series well, and so I figured who else would be worthy to create the next Contra game? And that’s why I wanted to contribute all of my talent and history on the series and make it come to life.

What separates this particular Contra game from previous entries in the series?

For Contra: Rogue Cops, we went with the twin-sticker shooter genre, and it’s very common for those types of games where the camera is always kind of really up high and set and it’s kind of hard to see your character a little bit. But I wanted to make sure this new Contra game would be a fun experience when you’re playing with a bunch of people while still being able to see your character and know what you’re doing, and being able to control your character without any issues. That’s why we implemented a dynamic camera where the camera angle actually changes depending on how you move throughout the level.

What you don’t see in twin-stick shooters is platforms, but Contra has the iconic twirling jump, and we wanted to make sure that was in the game. That’s why we added platforms so that you can still do the twirl-jump as well. We did make sure that when you’re doing battles against grunts or just minor enemies the camera is a little bit set back so you can kind of see the whole area that you’re fighting in, but when you’re moving around and exploring the map and the stage, there are areas where the camera does move and get closer to you so you know which platform to jump to. There’s a lot of cool features when you play the game.

Rogue Corps takes place several years after Contra III. How much are the two connected, if at all? Are there also any other nods to past games in the franchise?

For the story – the cutscenes in the game – we kind of utilize American comic-style. We call it motion comics. We’re actually going to release a few promotional videos that kind of tell the backstory a bit, and there is a little bit of tie-in to some of the other games in the series, so stay tuned for that. We’re gonna have three videos in total that will be released sometime soon.

Considering that you worked as a director on Contra III, is there a personal reason why the story takes place after that game?

That’s not the reason I started basing it off of Contra III, but what I wanted to do was because Contra III ends where everyone is finally relieved, they defeated the aliens, the world should be at peace, and everyone should be happy, I kind of wanted to dive a little bit deeper and say, “Hey, it’s actually not over. There’s actually something that went on soon after The Alien Wars ended.” So I kind of wanted to touch on that story, and put a little more context to what goes on between III and the next game that comes afterwards.

Does Contra Rogue Corps have any secrets, such as any hidden playable characters?

Obviously if we reveal it it’s not a secret anymore, so we’re not gonna tell you. But perhaps there might be a few Easer eggs here and there…

Are there any plans for post-launch updates aside from DLC?

The DLC packs – basically what we have in the season pass – are mainly character skins and a few weapons, but we will plan on releasing more free content post-launch, and that will include even more missions, more weapons, as well as the ability to go beyond your level cap.

What’s one thing about Contra Rogue Corps fans may not be aware of that you want them to know?

What’s new with Contra this time is we’ve added a PVP mode in the game. We have revealed information about it and there’s actually a video on our official website that kind of explains our PVP mode that’s going to be in the game.
What we did with the PVP mode – we don’t want to make it just a shoot each other up kind of thing because that might be a little bit too boring or repetitive, so what we did is we added a crazy, insane tournament mode. If you watch the video, you can definitely see more what that’s about.

If Contra: Rogue Corps is successful, would you be interested in continuing the series in the future?

Oh yes, obviously, of course. I love working on the Contra series so much. I would love to make another game, or even work on other great IPs we have at Konami as well.

Konami teased a new Contra at its E3 2011 conference, but there were never any updates on the game following its reveal. Does Rogue Corps have any relation to that project?

I was part of that teaser – part of the team that was working on that project as well. I know it’s been awhile since we updated any announcements, and the first teaser we released only had the firey “C”, so I debated what I should do about the next teaser. Should we just move on to the “O” next? But that was too lame of an idea, so we decided against it.

Aside from Contra Rogue Corps, Konami also released Contra Anniversary Collection this past summer. Could we possibly see more collections that package different entries in the series together?

That is something I would personally want to have myself, so if you guys can voice your need for it, definitely direct it at Konami. Then yes, hopefully we can make it happen.

You’ve been involved with Contra for over 25 years. What’s it been like to work on a series like this for so long?

Back in the day, I didn’t expect to be working on the series for so long so this is definitely a surprise. It’s all thanks to our fans for continuing to play our games and enjoying our games that I can continue to make the Contra games. I’m very, very thankful for all of our dedicated fans out there.

Do you have any favorite memories that you can remember during the development of the different Contra games throughout the years?

One of the fun parts about working on the Contra series since it’s been around for a while, a lot of the development staff are getting pretty old, but it’s awesome when you get new staff and development teams that remember playing the games when they were students or when they were kids as well. So you’ve got a mixture of all the old geezers and all of this like fresh new air and they’re both passionate about making a Contra game, so that was very, very fun.

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