Contra 4 - NDS - Preview 2

E for All 2007 Preview

Anyone from the original NES era will likely look back on the Contra series with a combination of wistful nostalgia and angry frustration. The games represented some of the best that the 8-bit era had to offer, as well some of the most difficult games you’re still likely to come across. Now, uber-publisher Konami is gearing up to revisit its long-lost franchise with Contra 4, the first official sequel in the series since Contra 3: The Alien Wars originally released on the Super Nintendo well over a decade ago (there have been a variety of spin-off games to bear the Contra name, like Shattered Soldier and Neo-Contra on the PS2). The game is set to take advantage of the DS’s double-screen feature, with stages that stretch vertically across both screens. Aside from that, the game is tried-and-true classic Contra gameplay, with intense action and a hardcore difficulty.

Contra 4 is a 2D side-scroller much like its older brethren. As a lone soldier with a variety of weapons to collect from flame-throwers to machine guns and homing missiles, you must take on enemies both large and small, tearing your way through robots and aliens in a variety of different stages.

One new addition that sets Contra 4 apart from other titles in the series is the new grappling hook, accessed by pressing the X button. You’ll need to use the grappling hook in order to reach areas that are out of jumping range, either to pull yourself across a pit or grab onto a ceiling and climb across.

The new dual-screen presentation works well for the game, and really brings out the vertical stages. Much like the vertical stages in previous Contras, you’ll have to be mindful of stuff that comes from above as well as to the sides. The added perspective is a nice touch, but does make things a bit more difficult, as you’ll have to constantly be scanning your eye from top to bottom in order to see the attacks before they get you.

Graphically, the game has a certain old-school charm, with nice sprites and some decent animations. While it certainly isn’t the most impressive looking game on the DS, to does give you plenty to look at. The sound is pretty good too, although the corny voice work (your guy will constantly yell something cheesy to the effect of “lock and load” whenever he spawns) could’ve been left out.

All in all, Contra 4 is gearing up to be the kind of old-school rebirth that the series needs, capturing the intensity and all-out toughness that made the original games so much fun to play in the beginning. Look for Contra 4 to hit the DS this November.

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