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''Contra 4' one of the best DS games yet

November 30, 2007

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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It's safe to say that games of yesteryear were much more difficult than games that have been coming out in the 21st century. There are few titles on the two most recent generations of consoles that people can truly boast about beating. Super Mario Galaxy, Gears of War and Resistance: Fall of Man were all superb games, but were they really that tough to beat? Often times these days, it's actually more difficult to get killed, than it is to not get killed.

Well, to those who say they're up for a real challenge, it's time to put your money where your mouth is and prove that you really can handle a truly demanding game, because Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS is as tough as they come.

Contra 4Contra 4 is a return to the side-scrolling style of the first three games in the series. It's pure 2D shoot-'em-up fun from beginning to end, and it barely lets up for even a moment through its nine levels.

It is, after all, the 20th anniversary of the Contra series in 2007 and developer Wayforward has gone to great lengths to pay some serious fan service to those who started on and have grown up with the legendary series. There are characters and entire classic games to unlock, libraries of interviews and trivia to read, old-school bosses to take down, and remastered music to listen to over and over again. No true Contra fan will be able to complain about not being pandered to with this game.

But what fans of the series will love more than anything is the insane difficulty. If you think Gears of War or Halo 3 is tough on the harder settings, just wait till you try out Contra 4. Even the easiest setting will give some gamers fits. The Normal mode adds two more levels and we guarantee that for most gamers, it'll take a lot more than just a night to polish off. Hard mode is for those who love a little lunacy in the morning.

The great thing about Contra 4, though, is that it's never impossible. It's a matter of memorizing, working on your reflexes, and getting a little bit of luck. It's this idea of knowing you truly can get further that will have you coming back again and again and again.

Contra 4 was developed exclusively for the Nintendo DS and Wayforward did an absolutely fantastic job making the best game it could on the dual screen handheld. First, know that there are no silly touch-screen gimmicks here. You're free to focus on one thing and one thing only - shooting wave after wave of enemy. The dual screens do come into play in some fabulous ways though. Most boss fights involve the two screens, and there are some levels that will have your jaw on the floor, such as one that has your character hanging from a giant nuclear missile as he shoots down smaller missiles at the same time.

Contra 4This is what fun is all about.

There is much more to this game than the campaign mode though. After beating the game at any difficulty level, you'll unlock the Challenge Mode, which consists of 40 small sections from the single player campaign, all with a different objective to complete. Every one is wickedly addicting, imaginative, and challenging all at the same time.

For instance, most Contra players take their unlimited ammo for granted - but what if you only had 15 bullets to complete a section of a level? Or worse yet - what if you couldn't just shoot willie-nillie? One challenge we encountered required us to finish a section of the game with 100% shooting accuracy. These are all just as hard and just as addicting as the campaign.

The one big complaint about the game is that the unlockable games don't have any two-player capabilities. You can choose two player in Contra or Super C, but all that does is have you control two players with the same D-pad and face buttons. It's a shame that these wi-fi capabilities couldn't have been added to the final product.

Otherwise, this is a hell of a way to end off 2007. Pixel-for-pixel, this game is truly one of the best values out there right now. Many 'noobs' will be turned off by the game's difficulty, but that's not a sign of a bad game; it's the sign of a bad gamer.

Contra 4 is not only one of the biggest surprises of 2007, it is quite simply one of the best games to be released this year.

Contra 4
Format: Nintendo DS
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Wayforward
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 9.0 / 10

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