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Posted on Apr 30th 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Review, Konami, ReBirth, Castlevania, Contra, Gradius, Wii, WiiWare


Back in the late 2000s, three games were released as digital exclusives for the Nintendo Wii. Developed by M2 and published by Konami, these three titles consisted of remakes and entirely new entries in Konami's long-running Gradius, Contra, and Castlevania series. While these games were met with fairly positive criticism, their limited availability has left them in relative obscurity, and the recent closure of the Wii online store has eliminated any legal means of obtaining them. This is a shame because these games are quite good and are among the last original entries in their respective series.




Gradius ReBirth

The first title to be released under the ReBirth line was Gradius ReBirth, an entirely new entry in its series, although it mostly consists of remixed levels from previous games. The structure of these levels will seem familiar to series veterans, as will many of the enemy types that you encounter. The series' signature powerup chain is also back, and there are even multiple different ships to choose from each with their own unique powerup chain.

When compared to previous games in the series, the most glaring omission is the lack of any form of multiplayer. Gone is the cooperative 2-player mode, and the game is playable exclusively in singleplayer. It is also a bit on the shorter side when compared to other titles. The game only includes 5 stages, although there are other gameplay modes that can extend replay value. Despite these criticisms, Gradius ReBirth is still a solid title and is well worth playing for shmup fans and especially fans of the Gradius series.


Contra ReBirth

Contra ReBirth is another original entry in its series and bears many similarities to the SNES title Contra III: The Alien Wars. It brings back the ability to obtain and switch between two separate weapon powerups, and the second level is a direct throwback to the SNES classic. Unfortunately, it is missing the bomb and barrier items and only has three weapon powerups, which is fewer than any other Contra game to my knowledge. Considering how closely this game resembles Contra III, these omissions feel a bit glaring, and the weapon variety feels bare. There are also no special stage types such as the overhead stages, but honestly I didn't miss them and was content to stick with the sidescrolling levels.

Despite the fairly stripped down feel of the game, it is still a solid action title and a fun ride while it lasts. The action can become a bit frantic, which can make it hard to follow everything that is happening onscreen, but this matches the feel of the 16-bit Contra titles that it pays homage to. I did feel like there were quite a few cheap deaths (the game would literally spawn me directly over death pits sometimes), but unlimited continues help to mitigate its overall difficulty and cheap deaths. Overall, it's not the best Contra game, but it is still a lot of fun and definitely worth playing for fans of the series.


Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth

The third and final entry in Konami's ReBirth series was a "remake" of the 1989 Game Boy title Castlevania: The Adventure. I use the term "remake" loosely because Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth has little in common with the original Game Boy title save for a few gameplay elements and is rather a complete reimagining of its source material. There are more levels than in the original, and level layouts and bosses are drastically different. Subweapons that were missing from the original make their welcome return, and hearts act as ammunition for subweapons instead of health powerups. The ability to upgrade the whip to fire a projectile is still present, although the mechanics are a bit different from the original.

ReBirth feels like an attempt to combine the best elements from the Game Boy original with the familiar mechanics of the classic Castlevania series, and the results are fairly positive. The soundtrack is probably my biggest criticism of the game. It's not bad by any means, but it mostly uses new iterations of classic tracks from previous Castlevania games instead of using anything from the original. The Game Boy title had an excellent soundtrack, so it baffles me that it went neglected while this game was being scored. Castlevania: The Adventure ReBirth is a solid entry in the series and should please fans of classic Castlevania.


While not the best entries in their respective series, these are all solid titles that are worth experiencing for fans of 16-bit action games. As of right now, there are unfortunately no legal means of obtaining these games, so anybody who doesn't already have access to them will have to resort to more dubious means of obtaining them. Hopefully rumors of Konami bringing a ReBirth collection to modern consoles becomes a reality so that these titles are not lost forever and are once again available to purchase for a much larger audience. Either way, these three ReBirth titles are fun throwbacks and are worth playing for fans of the good old days of Konami.


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Comments
 
Given that M2 developed these, and their current involvement with development of titles on the Switch, one can only hope Konami gives M2 the go-ahead to port them over. Maybe in a compilation, where you'd get all 3 in a bundle at a bargain price? Otherwise, these solid games could be lost to time, as you said. Thanks for highlighting these - it's good to know they aren't completely off the radar.
 
H A C K  A  W I I
 
@MetalFRO: Given the rumors and the recent collections that Konami's been releasing, I really think we'll either see a ReBirth collection or these games will be included individually on some of these upcoming anniversary collections.

@GrayGhost81: Haha, I didn't even think to check, but I think I actually purchased these games years ago and have them installed on my Wii U. I still just emulated them for convenience. Though, that does remind me that I have a hacked Wii that I should really mess around with...
 
@GrayGhost81: Oh yeah, I've already done that. But it would be nice for them to be legitimately available as well Smiley
 
Totally agree that these need to be republished. Happy to hear I have some modded Wii brothers on the site here though. Probably the best single console I own.
 
I was hoping to see rebirth in the Castlevania Collection but alas it is the inferior Game Boy version Sad
 
Dubious means?! I would never.

Well, I already did a long time ago. Castlevania was my favorite of the bunch.

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