Home > Gaming, Nintendo DS, Reviews, Uncategorized > “Contra 4” DS Review

“Contra 4” DS Review

What do you do when thousands of aliens attack Earth, destroy entire cities, and slaughter most of mankind? Why, you send in a single person armed with whatever gun he can find, of course!

So is the premise of Contra 4 – you control a shirtless tough guy who must take singlehandedly take down an entire army of vicious aliens. With devastating weapons like homing missiles, fireballs, and that classic Spread Gun, you run and gun your way through both screens of the DS. The four starting characters you can play as are all palette-swaps of one another, complete with the same voices. Still, with giant muscles, clichéd tough-guy one liners (“Lock and load!”; “Let’s party!”), names like “Scorpion” or “Mad Dog”, endless ammo, and an inability to jump without somersaulting 3 or 4 times in the process, these guys’ baddassery knows no limit. That is, until they die after one hit. Huh… maybe this won’t be so easy…

And it isn’t. Contra 4 is easily one of the hardest games I’ve ever played. On the “Normal” setting, you’re expected to complete all 9 grueling levels with 6 lives and limited continues (continuing starts you back at a checkpoint – usually the beginning of the level). Needless to say, it will destroy you. My advice is to try it first on Easy mode. Your weapons are always fully upgraded, enemies are fewer, and they’re easier to kill. Even so, it’ll probably be more than enough challenge for many people. And when you get to the end of level 7 and enter the alien base, the game ends and tells you to try playing it on a real difficulty if you want to see the ending. This is hardcore, that’s for sure.

Despite its crushing difficulty, Contra 4 is still quite a bit of fun. With challenge comes reward, so conquering a level does make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. The game is also packed with extras, such as artwork, promotional comics for Contra 3 and 4, extra characters (Probotectors!?), and the full NES versions of both Contra and Super C (with the Konami codes intact), among other things. The game may never apologize for completely pwning you throughout, but it does make sure you feel good about the victories you make.

The gameplay itself is exactly how Contra was meant to be – fast-paced, action-packed, and exciting. The two DS screens allow you to see double the amount of beautiful 2D graphics at once, but they also give you twice as many enemies to worry about. Fortunately for you, a new Grappling Hook tool lets you latch on to certain things above you, so you’ll be able to explore both screens equally. The bosses also take full advantage of the dual screens. Expertly designed, these bosses always manage to impress. Many are remakes of those seen in the original Contra, but most are new to this game. The boss encounters are some of the most memorable moments of the game – a massive robotic spider that wedges itself between two buildings, a fast moving bug that can only be killed while you ride a hijacked hovercraft, and a long-armed alien that you fight while hanging on to a giant speeding missile… the list goes on and on.

Every once in a while you’ll enter a 3D level in which you make your way through an enemy base one room at a time. The 3D graphics aren’t quite at the lofty quality of the 2D ones (though I wouldn’t say they’re bad), and for some reason these levels are very easy – it’s not too hard to complete the whole thing in one life. While it may be a nice breather from the otherwise insane 2D levels, the easiness doesn’t really fit right with the rest of the game.

An unlockable “Challenge Mode” gives you 40 different scenarios to complete, ranging from limited ammo, getting through a section in a certain amount of time, or killing all the man-faced mutts, to defeating bosses with one life, as well as others. These have no selectable difficulty level, and as a result become some of the hardest parts of the game. However, since many of the unlockables are gained through this mode, you’ll want to spend quite a bit of time attempting the challenges. It also helps that these are nice and short – perfect for when you don’t have a lot of time, and don’t want to begin the normal single player game.

Co-Op is present in Contra 4, but both players need their own copy of the game in order to play it. Luckily for me, Matt (Justmattpwn3r) also has the game, and we were able to try it out. Despite a few cheap deaths resulting from a partner advancing the screen too quickly, it did make the game a lot more easier and fun. Maybe I will see the ending on “Normal” after all…

Even with a sky-high difficulty, Contra 4 is one of the best DS games of 2007. I’d definitely recommend it to any gamer who isn’t afraid of a little challenge.

Pros: Crazy and exciting gameplay, excellent level/boss designs, great graphics, rewarding, full of unlockables/extras, nice music, addicting Challenge Mode

Cons: Can be ridiculously hard – sometimes to the point of being unfair, 3D levels with easy difficulties that don’t fit in with the rest of the game, Co-Op requires both players to have their own copy of the game

Final Score: 8.5 out of 10

By Josh60502

  1. matt potter
    May 3, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    super C doesn’t have the konami code

  2. May 3, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    It has a variation of the code in it… so I guess maybe it isn’t THE Konami Code.

  3. matt potter
    May 4, 2008 at 4:45 pm

    it only gives you ten lives and it’s not up up down down left right left right b a start.

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