When Worlds Collide: Vampire Survivors Meets Contra

Mega Cat Studios
6 min readMay 9, 2024

It’s not often that crossovers happen within games. While they do pop up from time to time, they’re usually more along the lines of what Bethesda did in Fallout 4. They’d offered the Doom Marine Power in their Creation Club and had it appear as equipable armor in-game! While it did look good, the Doom Marine Armor was little more than a small nod to the series it came from. It was interesting, but overall very silly, and was an easter egg that changed almost nothing about the game in the long run. No new mechanics were added, and it barely affected how one would normally play Fallout 4.

Doom Power Armor in Fallout 4

Sometimes, though, you run into something much more involved. Like what Nier Automata did with Soul Calibur VI and Terminator 2 with Mortal Kombat 11, some crossovers have more effort put into them. These become part of the game’s narrative and gameplay and bring new content and ways to play.

2B in Soul Calibur, and Arnold as the Terminator in Mortal Kombat 11

Vampire Survivors’ upcoming DLC, Operation Guns, follows this rare trend of collaborative crossover. Themed after Konami’s Contra series at center stage, Operation Guns combines the best parts of Vampire Survivors’ addictive gameplay with the charm, personality, and appeal of Contra.

But how exactly can it do that? Let’s take a closer look at Contra and see exactly how it blends into the fast-paced rogue-like gameplay of Vampire Survivors.

Contra — Fast, Furious Fun

Konami’s long-running Contra series has deep roots in gaming gaming history. Released in arcades in 1987, classic Contra gameplay was a run-and-gun side-scrolling shooter that emphasized speed and quick reactions to win the day. All it took was one hit to lose a life, giving the game a fast, frenetic pace of high-adrenaline action.

Contra | Courtesy of Pinterest

Games later inspired by this classic formula embodied much of the same ideas. Stages would be short but frantic bouts of running, leaping, and shooting. Players needed careful movement to avoid damage but also to properly position their character to fight back, necessitating a balance between playing aggressively and being on the defensive. Sure, sometimes it could get frustrating to lose a life to a mistimed dodge or a failed jump, but players were in complete control at the end of the day. Being skilled meant being rewarded.

Contra | Courtesy of giphy

This gave Contra and other Contra-inspired games an addictive loop of failing, learning, and trying. Each new stage tackled brought new challenges to learn and new enemies to fight. There would be new hazards to get through, new enemy patterns to memorize, and new bosses to beat with each new level conquered. The type of game design made you want to punch a wall. But sometimes, it also made you cheer once you got past an annoying stage.

Vampire Survivors — Rogue-like Addiction

At a glance, Vampire Survivors seems to follow this design as well. After all, its gameplay also revolves around dodging enemies, and just like Contra, quick movement and quick thinking are a must to survive the oncoming onslaught of enemies. However, genre similarities aside, Vampire Survivors differs in a few ways.

Vampire Survivors | Courtesy of tenor

The most important of this is the randomization aspect! Where Contra and similar games revolved around learning stages and enemy patterns, Vampire Survivors leans toward a more instinctive decision-making style. It’s less about memorizing stages and more about making do with what resources you find on the field. As it’s rogue-like, all weapons and items you see are randomized, with the core gameplay loop all about learning how to make do.

In addition to that, Vampire Survivors leans heavily on its rogue-like unlocks. Slow and steady progress is the game’s name, and where Contra forces you to play by its rules, Vampire Survivors revels in letting players achieve slow and steady progress. Even failed runs brought a new permanent unlock, a multitude of new content to play with, and permanent stat boosts to make future runs easier. No matter how good or bad a stage went, each run helped players get stronger.

Vampire Survivors Unlock Screen

These two designs seemingly stand apart, with Contra emphasizing skill and Vampire Survivors about a player’s perseverance. How do you reconcile these two together? Simple! You just need to find out what people like about them and bring them together!

A Match Made in Gaming Heaven

Combining these games might not seem like it would work, but this type of crossover is one for the history books. It’s not a lazy easter egg or a fan-service DLC. It’s a fully-fledged, fully-realized tribute to Contra and what it stands for, placed lovingly inside Vampire Survivors’ addictive shell.

Operation Guns

Operation Guns brings the classic Contra characters that people love, with all the bells and whistles one can expect. The weapons, the power-ups, the stages- all of them are lovingly handcrafted with the reverence they deserve, and they properly pay homage to the Konami classic.

At the same time, however, this type of homage isn’t restricted just to looks. It’s also one that tries to do its source material justice. Operation Guns’ new content shakes up the tried-and-tested Vampire Survivors gameplay. There are new power-ups to experiment with, new stages to run through, and new characters to play as, and each of these is unique to the DLC and brand new to the Vampire Survivors lineup.

Operation Guns

Isn’t this the perfect type of crossover that games need? Operation Guns isn’t a DLC that’s hastily rushed. Instead, it seeks to make its source material proud and wears its inspirations on its shoulder.

Premium Content Packed with Passion, and Perfectly Priced

Priced at an affordable $2.49 and available on Switch, Steam, Android, IOS, and Xbox, it’s hard to argue against what Operation Guns offers. As a DLC, it captures the charm of Contra and channels it through Vampire Survivors’ finely tuned rogue-like gameplay. It provides new ways to play without compromising the original game’s design, and it manages to put its best foot forward without falling out of step.

Operation Guns

As gamers, we shouldn’t take something like this for granted. All too often, projects like this can fall apart for any number of reasons, and a collaboration like this couldn’t have happened without the work of talented people behind it. Special thanks must be given to Konami, who has done an excellent job keeping the Contra legacy alive. The same goes for Poncle Games, who, despite being a small studio, have kept Vampire Survivors thriving with their constant bug fixes and updates. What’s sweeter is that Mega Cat Studios has collaborated with them to create the art for this DLC.

Operation Guns is more than just an affordable content update. It has the soul of a good crossover and contains the passion, hard work, and dedication to gaming that are rarely seen nowadays.

About the Author

Alexander Cuaycong is a writer with a passion for history and video game. When he’s not busy buried in dusty books, he’s out there trying to make his fantasy worlds come true. For him, gaming isn’t a hobby so much as a calling, and it’s one he’s been doing his best to follow. Whether it’s reviewing games, or writing about their history, he’s on a mission to spread that love with others.

Originally published at https://megacatstudios.com on May 9, 2024.

--

--

Mega Cat Studios

Mega Cat Studios is a creative first company based out of Pittsburgh, PA. We love creating games. From retro cartridges to PC & VR, come play with us.