I know I just said something similar in my last post, but I can't believe it's already been almost six and a half years since I've picked up a Contra game. I ended up skipping ahead and trying out Contra Rebirth, which was part of a trio of Konami releases on WiiWare that revisited classic franchises. All three games seem to have gotten a positive reception, and Contra Rebirth definitely feels like a great homage to a classic series.
Contra Rebirth has all the great over-the-top run 'n gun action of the original games, and Contra super fans will probably recognize more of the references to previous games than I did. There are plenty of boss fights, and the first boss of the first game has another cameo in this game. Being able to hang from bars and climb up walls returns from previous games, and the game features a total of four playable characters (all play identically and two are unlockable) that will also be familiar to fans of the series.
I was thrown off by the fact you can't run and gun at the same time, although this isn't the first time a Contra game has gone with that design. There's no need for the Konami code since you can adjust the number of lives in the settings, and you get unlimited continues. The game only includes five stages, but on the normal difficulty it's still a decent challenge. There are three difficulty levels to start with, and beating the hard mode unlocks "nightmare" mode, which has an interesting mechanic. According to GameFAQs, in this mode "any enemy that you destroy will shoot a blue ring projectile in your direction, and the more enemies you kill, the more blue rings will spread all across the screen, which will make it harder to avoid the attacks."
WiiWare had some great games, and Contra Rebirth is definitely one of them, so much so that I would rank it at the top of my list of favorite WiiWare games. Contra games are fun in general and there's nothing like mowing down hordes of enemies with the spread gun with a buddy fighting alongside you. Of the Contra games I've played, Contra Rebirth is one of the best. It's colorful, full of action and fun, and has a nice set of options (and unlimited continues!).