Set in the year 2634, ‘Return of the evil forces’ sees either the heroic commandos or robots (depending which version you are playing) battling against the evil alien menace once again. After a message is received stating "units out on manoeuvres are under attack", our heroes are sent to investigate. Upon arriving they find that aliens have taken control of friendly troops and built a robot army to destroy the earth. As usual it is up to you to save the day, and destroy all the evil creatures once and for all.
Spread across eight levels, the emphasis is very much on all out blasting action. Most of your time is spent in horizontally scrolling levels, moving from left to right blowing up whatever gets in your way, as wave after wave of troops come at you. There are instances however where the level changes to either a top down perspective or a vertically scrolling platform affair, this at least adds a little variety to proceedings, though the top down sections are underused.
Graphically, the game is good with backgrounds and environments are represented well and never too much, or too little detail being on screen at any one time, meaning you are always aware of the sea of bullets and lasers heading your way. Characters are well animated, and though the screen is always filled with enemies there is no slowdown or flickering present - a very impressive feat on the little grey box. Boss monsters are absolutely huge, often filling the entire screen and you really have to be on your guard to bring them down.
Gameplay wise, your characters are extremely controllable allowing you to change direction during jumping and allowing the player to fire through a 360 degree field, both being essential to your progression through the game. With the controls being so responsive it means that anytime you are gunned down the cause is your failure to react. This makes every death seem fair, an aspect vital to a game as difficult as this.
Difficulty is something that the Contra series excels at with it coming from the breakneck action and ‘Return of the evil forces’ is no exception. To progress through the levels will test even the most hard core of action fanatics, and a casual gamer is probably looking at around level four as the limit. What is great about the game though is that you will end up replaying levels over and over , but never becoming bored. This one more go factor, always wanting try one more time to reach the next level, is rarely seen today.
Overall, Probotector/Contra 2 is a superb slice of eight bit action, it's hard to find fault with the game in terms of play mechanics but to be honest we have doubts if it will appeal to the current generation of console players. You just want a little bit more than is on display, a touch of innovation is all that is needed to launch this game into the higher reaches of retro greatness, but as it stands this is a solid shooting game with excellent controls.