previews\ Jul 13, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Contra 4 - NDS - Preview

E3 2007 Preview

Do you wanna die? Do you want to feel the pain as a group of enemies that are armed with nothing more than basic weapons? Do you want to know that if you defy your destiny and survive the attack that you really accomplished something?

That sensation -- the feeling that you've conquered an excruciatingly difficult game -- has been lost for some time. It returned for a brief stint with the Xbox version of Metal Slug 3 but was quickly dummied down by PS2 and Wii iterations that offered infinite lives.

Contra 4, an exclusive 2D action title for the DS, looks to pick up where its beloved predecessors left off. The series has had a few ups and downs, but any blemishes you remember will be forgotten the second you start to play this sequel.

Contra 4 Nintendo DS screenshots

Two-D Bliss

The controls aren't Contra-perfect -- they're better than that. This game is not complete, but it already controls more freely than any of its predecessors. I love how you can run toward a pack of enemies, open fire, jump over a low-shooting sniper, run back to avoid vertical gunfire, shoot downward and destroy the enemy -- and it's all based entirely on the skill of the player. You can't know how cool that is (unless you're a contra fan, in which case you're likely passed out on the floor in excitement).

The demo began outside in a colorful world that's filled with enemies. Most aren't visible until it's nearly too late to do anything about them. You have to get into a groove and attempt to predict what they are going to do next. Or just play the game enough to know exactly where the majority of them will appear -- either strategy is effective. But even then, if you make one mistake, a bullet will make contact. Bam! One life gone. Another shot connects. Bam! Two lives gone. Only three are available, so you won't want to get shot a third time.

Contra 4 Nintendo DS screenshots

After fighting through streams of enemies on the lower screen, I made it to the first area played from the top screen. A grappling hook is provided for these scenarios, which you'll use to pull yourself up to the next part of the stage. What I saw of the screen shifting was not a big deal, but the final game will contain elements that appear on both screens simultaneously, including a level where you have to climb up instead of moving sideways. Needless to say, the idea of that is very exciting.

I can't tell you how long the demo was since I could not reach the end. I played somewhere between 10 - 15 games (and lost all of them) before having to move onto my next E3 objective. That right there is proof of how challenging the enemies are. Konami said that it is currently reviewing the difficulty and that the demo may not represent the content of the finished game. At first I was happy to hear that, but after five minutes of practice, I really hope they leave it as is. Yeah it's tough, and you will die so frequently it'll make your head spin. But where else can you play a game that at times feels impossible to beat but is also impossible to put down?



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