A quick visit to the Damned City.

Konami understands what its fans want out of Contra games. First, they want the previous games bundled into a nice Anniversary Collection. Check. Then, if there’s going to be a new game, they want it to include all of the over-the-top action of its predecessors with a healthy dose of mature humor thrown in.

A definite check.

Contra: Rogue Corps picks up several years after the events of Contra III: The Alien Wars. A city of destruction has arisen from the remains of that game’s conclusion, and it came with nasty side-effect of creating monsters from all who visit there.

Well, all except for the rogue corps. Our four heroes—Kaiser, Ms. Harakiri, Hungry Beast and the Gentleman—are for various (and sometimes comical) reasons immune to the poisons of the Damned City, and are therefore able to traverse it to search for loot and reward…and to kill a ridiculous number of enemies in big, big ways.

Pure Nintendo was able to spend just shy of an hour playing the game at Konami’s meeting room, and that hour went by very quickly. The game starts you out in control of Kaiser, dumping you right into the action. As you progress, details about your situation and your current capabilities are relayed from a character named Lily. It looks like she’s not a playable character, but she factors heavily into the tutorial and story of the game.

Speaking of the story, there’s a lot of narrative going on around the action. This is where the game’s personality shines through, full of plenty of content that quickly earns the game its mature rating. It’s crudely comical and brimming with an attitude to match the aggressive nature of the gameplay.

The intro level provides plenty of instructions on how you’ll survive Contra: Rogue Corps. The game mostly involves shooting, of course (move with the left stick, aim with the right, fire with RS), but your weapons can and will overheat. You’ll need to swap out weapons to get around this, being careful to make sure you’ve got the right weapon ready for the wide variety of enemies you’ll face. It’s also important to use the environment to your advantage—exploding gas barrels, for example, or by stunning enemies (LS) so you can pick them up and throw them into giant buzzsaws. And, as you’d expect, there will be upgrades available for each of the playable characters.

The perspective changes throughout. At one moment I was looking over Kaiser’s shoulder as he charged down alleys, but turn a corner and I had the more traditional side-scrolling perspective of the earlier Contra titles. In numerous instances the game also rose above the action to a provide a top-down look. This all happens seamlessly, allowing the action to keep flowing.

The robust story campaign can be played single-player or with up to three other players online (a Nintendo Switch Online account is required). There’s also a local co-op mode, and although our Konami rep wasn’t able to provide details on how that will work he did say that it will be very unique. We do know local wireless multiplayer will be available provided each player has a Switch system and the game. Finally, custom matches (private mode) can be set up for 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 or 1vs4 battle options, but we weren’t able to test any multiplayer options during our demo.

Additional information on Contra: Rogue Corps is available at Konami’s website, including details on pre-order bonuses of the Locked and Loaded addition. The game will release for Switch on September 24th in the U.S., so fans of the series will definitely want to mark that on their calendar. I’ll admit to having not played many of the games in the Contra collection, but it didn’t take more than a few minutes with the demo to understand its irreverent appeal. That, and it’s just some quality arcade-action fun.

Be sure to check out our full E3 2019 coverage for more game announcements and hands-on comments from the show floor.