Microsoft added a digital cult-classic to its Xbox One backwards compatibility list this week, one that every gamer should give a chance. It tapped our old friends at Konami for this one, securing the rights to play Hard Corps: Uprising on its current generation console.

The “not-ContraContra game

Hard Corps: Uprising was released digitally in 2011 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and the best way to summarize it is by calling it “Contra for the anime generation.” Konami’s classic run ‘n’ gun series hasn’t had too much luck on the market since the Super Nintendo days, and the few solid attempts to revive it over the years, like with Contra: Shattered Soldier on the PlayStation 2 and Contra 4 on the Nintendo DS, have all failed to regain the prestige of the NES and SNES games.

When Konami set about to make Hard Corps: Uprising, it turned to a dramatic shift in tone to keep it free from the Contra name. It instead takes its name from the SEGA Genesis entry in the series, Contra: Hard Corps. This game separates itself from the Nintendo Contra games with a different graphic style that exists on its own world and a totally different cast of characters. And I mean totally different as in you can play as a pipsqueak robot or werewolf with machine-gun arms.

All four playable characters differ in their abilities too.

The characters in Hard Corps: Uprising aren’t as outlandish as the ones found in its SEGA Genesis predecessor, but their silky, clean-cut anime look is a far cry from the Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stalone inspired character art from the days of old. It retains a few tried and true Contra tropes like directional shooting and the Spread Gun, but it differs in ways, like with the life bar.

Much like its sister game, Castlevania: Bloodlines, the game remains popular not because it’s better than its more mainstream siblings but rather because it offers something fresh and different.

And yes, Hard Corps: Uprising is blisteringly difficult and will give fans of old school action a genuine rush of the classics.

Check it out if you like. I played it a bit back in the day, but I didn’t get around to beating it. This decision from Microsoft gives me another chance to do so, and it also gives me hope that they still might target the superior action arcade classic Guardian Heroes HD for backwards compatibility.