Hardcore commandos Bill Rizer and Lance Bean defeated the highly advanced alien empire Red Falcon and saved the people of Earth from extinction. Two years have passed and Earth's government soon learns that Red Falcon was only the first wave. Another alien military force known as Black Viper seeks to finish what was already started. The government sends in four commandos this time, to blast the aliens into ashes all over again.-summary
Contra 4 continues to carry the legacy of Konami's classic franchise proudly. After enduring a couple of bad games in the franchise over the years; Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra proved that there was still life in the series. Konami then delivers another side scrolling blast'em up that will keep the best Contra players on their toes for awhile.
Once again and as always, this addition of Contra is mainly for the fans of the franchise. If you fall into the category of those who never understood the praise of these monster games. There's a good chance you'll be thinking the same thing. Contra 4 can be a very difficult game and at times very frustrating, but it can be beaten after enough tries. The game can also be considered the true sequel to three, as it takes place following those events.
Although it's said to be paying homage to the original and the sequels before it. Contra 4 at times feels like a remake. There are a few familiar stages with a twist from the original especially, and it reuses the gaming engine of Contra 3. The game is two player co-op, with four selectable characters. The game features nine stages in a 2D format, with three difficulty settings; easy, normal, and hard. There's definitely a difference between the settings. The easy setting begins the player with nine lives, and it's very possible to go through every last one of them in the first stage. The game also has a certain amount of continues, and the game will restart you mid-way through a stage should you continue. The game also utilizes the DS split screen. I really like this because it adds a new spin to the gameplay, and it makes the stages that much bigger.
The player begins with the standard pea-shooter rifle. Along the way, other weapons can be picked up by shooting down some type of flying objects. The object will change revealing a letter which represents the actual name of the weapon. There are various weapons like the Spread Shot that fires in a wide spread range, a Hunter that fires homing missiles, a machine gun and others. On the easy level, the weapons are at full power and cannot be upgraded. While on normal, picking up the same weapon twice will upgrade it. For example, the Spread Shot begins by firing 3 shots in a spread-formation. The upgrade has it shooting 5 shots. The upgrades to the weapons are indeed noticeable, and they can determine the difficulty on getting through a stage, to include, fighting against one of the sub-bosses and actual bosses.
This is where Contra 3 comes in. The player can carry up to two weapons and swap between them at any time. It's also possible to drop an unwanted weapon by pressing a single button. Should the player be killed, only one weapon will be lost, and this happens to be the one that was currently being used. Also reusing from the third game is the wall climb. There are certain stages that requires the character to jump into the wall and climb. In addition, the character can climb ropes, slide down them with quick speed, and ride vehicles. There's also a grappling hook that is used by shooting it straight up to scale the higher platforms, and it can also be used while jumping.
I already mentioned the difficulty but I'll go a little in depth. The enemies are no doubt relentless, and they sometimes come from all directions. Many of them attempt to rush you, while others will use some form of projectile. The bosses can be tough with many different attacks, and the stages have plenty of instant deaths; such as falling boulders, mis-timed jumps, floating bombs, and other things. I can imagine many folks quitting out of frustration alone. But the game can be beaten, and it's possible to beat this game without dying once. As just about every game under the Konami banner, it's all about memorizing enemy placement and patterns. The entire game is based on trial and error; every new stage, every new boss, should be taken as a learning experience.
Contra 4 is a pick up and just start shooting game. There's no learning curve to the controls at all. The basic set up is run, shoot, and jump. The left shoulder button swaps the weapons, while the right button holds your player in place to fire. The player can shoot in all eight directions. The controls are responsive, but some of the jumps must be precise or you'll find yourself dying a death that could have been avoided.
It's somewhat lacking in the graphics area. Now, the game has some nice graphics, with some cool settings for the jungle, waterfalls, and ran down city. The character movements are alright at best, but I just found some of them to be a little stiff. This mainly goes for the bosses. The details in the character movements are severely lacking when compared to Metal Slug for example. I also noticed that if the character is killed in water. He'll fall into the water, yet he'll be completely visible on the outside of the water. Unless, it's a stage that is meant for water deaths. I really don't care for this lack of detail. I'm also not crazy about the weapons appearance not changing when something else is picked up. I think their should have been different weapon designs.
The game also features behind the character view stages, which were first introduced in the original Contra. I think the 3D effects are pretty good here, when displaying weapon fire in perspective while it's approaching from the background to the foreground and vice versa.
The sound effects are ok displaying weapon fire and there are various sounds for the different weapons. The splashing of water can be heard when the character jumps into it. The music is great for the stages and some of it features different variations or remixes of older songs.
This is the area where Contra fans more than likely will go crazy. First of all, the game cannot be beaten on easy. If I remember correctly, the last two stages cannot be played. I really like this because I feel no one should say they beat a game, unless they beat it on at least the normal setting. I think all games should be this way. But the icing on the cake are the unlockables. When the game is beaten, the original Nintendo versions of Contra and the sequel Super C are unlocked. The games are the exact originals with the difficulty and music. I never tried them, but I heard that the 30 and 10 man lives codes are intact. There's also a challenge mode, where the player would have to complete certain goals to beat the level, such as surviving the stage without dying, or make it through without killing anyone. There's a few others that I won't mention. These extras will please probably all fans of the series.
Overall, Contra 4 is a great addition to the series but I'm sure many people will be turned away because of how hard the game could be. Personally, I still find Contra: Hard Corps of the Sega Genesis to be the most difficult. Recommended to fans of the franchise and those searching for a challenging shooter.
Two years after saving earth from invasion by Red Falcon, Bill Rizer and Lance Bean are confronted with a new extraterrestrial menace: the terrifying Black Viper. Joined by hard-boiled mercenaries Mad Dog and Scorpion, the warriors must once again wage war against an entire army of invaders.