A throwback sequel to Contra III: The Aliens Wars!
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I’m Gaming Jay: Youtube gamer, let’s player, fan of retro games, and determined optimist… Join me in this series while I try out EACH of the video games in the book 1001 VIDEO GAMES YOU MUST PLAY BEFORE YOU DIE, before I die. The game review for each game will focus on the question of whether you MUST play this game before you die. But to be honest, the game review parts are just for fun, and are not meant to be definitive, in depth reviews; this series is more about the YouTube gamer journey itself. From Mario games to the Halo series, from arcade games to Commodore 64, PC games to the NES and Sega Genesis, Playstation to the Xbox, let’s play those classic retro games that we grew up with, have fond memories of, or heard of but never got a chance to try! And with that said, the game review for today is…
Contra 4[a] is a 2D action game for the Nintendo DS and the eleventh original installment in the Contra series. The game was released in North America on November 13, 2007. Contra 4 was produced by Konami Digital Entertainment in America and developed by WayForward Technologies, making it the first Contra game developed by them, as well as the first original Contra game for a portable platform since the 1991 Game Boy game Operation C. Contra 4 was designed to be a direct sequel to the Contra games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES (Contra, Super C, and Contra III: The Alien Wars), with a gameplay model similar to those games, and was also in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the original Contra. A mobile phone port was released on November 19, 2007.
Contra 4 is based on the same 2D gameplay system featured in the series through Contra III: The Alien Wars, ignoring many of the game mechanics introduced in later games such as the fixed weapon configurations in Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, returning to the old method of picking up power-up icons to obtain new weapons. The play controls are similar to Contra III: The Alien Wars, including the ability to hold two weapons in inventory. The action spans both screens of the Nintendo DS system and a grappling hook can be used by the player’s character to latch onto railings, allowing the player’s character to move from one screen to the other. Similarly to the arcade version of Super Contra, the player can pick up the same power-up twice, giving them an improved version of the same weapon. The player can also discard a power-up, allowing them to try out a new weapon without losing a previous one.
In addition to the standard side view stages, there are also tunnel stages similar to the two “3D view” stages from the original Contra, in which the perspective shifts behind the character’s back. The action in these stages is displayed solely on the upper screen, while the bottom screen is used to display the stage’s map and the locations of power-ups. Other than using both screens, Contra 4 makes no usage of the DS’ special features such as touch screen (besides navigating the main menu), microphone, or multiplayer modes.
Arcade Mode is the main portion of the game, which is composed of six standard stages and three tunnel stages, for a total of nine stages. The stages pay frequent homage to Contra, Super Contra (Super C on the NES), Operation C and Contra III: The Alien Wars. Three difficulty settings are available: easy, normal, and hard. Easy is intended to be accessible to novices by providing the player with plenty of lives and credits, as well as making all power-ups upgraded by default, but does not give the player access to the final two stages nor the ending. Normal is a moderate setting described to be “as difficult as the original Contra”, whereas Hard features faster moving enemies and enemy fire, with fewer lives. Hard mode also features a different ending from Normal.
After completing the main game (Arcade Mode) once on any difficulty setting, a Challenge Mode will be made available in the main menu. This game mode is composed of forty different challenges in which the player must complete various tasks within the side-scrolling stages of Arcade Mode.
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