Finally Contra fans are treated to the nostalgic masterpiece they’ve been waiting for since the original. The fourth in series has all the right elements from the first game, but takes it to the next level with excellent level design, insane difficulty, and frenzy paced spread shot killing that feels and plays like a true Contra sequel. That said, Contra 4 is not for the passive gamer. The levels are often challenging beyond belief and only the true fan of the series will appreciate this.
What makes Contra 4 work so well is that the developers took care not to stray too far from the formula that worked so well with the original. Players can play as Bill and Lance (from the original) and proceed through the levels wiping out any alien that comes in your way. Along the way, there are plenty of power-ups to choose from such as the flamethrower and the infamous spread shot. The levels are designed with a 16bit look and feel and most of the levels are a throwback to the original with plenty of inside references and intense boss battles to keep the excitement going.
Thankfully, they’ve included the multiplayer in this outing because you’re going to need all the help you can get to plow through this insanely hard game. Like the original, you’re going to have to memorize enemy patterns and avoid glowing dots like the plague. For the most part, players will probably welcome the challenge, but we did run into a few frustrating moments with the DS dual screen. Occasionally, bullets will seem to appear out of nowhere as they pass between the two screens, but this didn’t happen too often. There is an easy mode, but you wont be able to play the game’s last two levels and we didn’t find it much easier than normal mode, which felt like hard mode to the sixth degree.
Contra 4 also comes with bonus features to reward players that stomach through the game and beat it. Players that beat the game on any level will be rewarded with the orginal NES Contra and Super Contra. If that wasn’t enough there are also challenge modes like survival without a gun that are unlocked. Strangely, the old school contra games don’t include multiplayer, which quite frankly, killed it for us, but it’s still cool that they were included.
The graphics might not be anything to show off the DS’ power, but there’s nothing wrong with 16bit sprites. The boss battles are intense and definitely memorable and the game’s levels are remarkable designed and fun to play through. The characters themselves remain true to the original Bill and Lance and even have a few voice commands like “Lock and Load” that get you into the action proper. Contra 4 is a definite must have for any Contra fan and for the gamer looking for a real challenge like games used to be.
- Score: 8.5
- Contra 4 is made for the fan in mind. It is obvious that the developers have a lot of love for the Contra series so if you’re a fan then there’s nothing to pick at. However, those looking for an easy game, updated graphics, or a compete re-imagining of the Contra series might want to skip this installment.