E3 '07: Contra 4 Hands-On

Ah, Contra. I remember the days when that damn game would cause so much frustration it led to me learning several new swear words. After the last Contra game came out on GBA, fans were disappointed that the portable Contra offering left out many important factors (such as multiplayer). Konami hopes Contra 4 will fix that. But does it?

Picking up Contra 4, right away you can tell it’s a Contra game. The first level is filled with a ton of enemies, and from the get-go it’s a huge cluster of fire, bad guys, and buildings. Not expecting that level of difficulty to kick things off, I died the first time I played (to be fair, I don’t know for sure if it was the official first level…so shh).

After trying again, I got things down, and managed to make it a sizable distance before I bit the dust again.

So is it difficult, which a Contra game should be? Definitely. But what makes it unique? Obviously, the two DS screens is one of the big factors. The top screen and bottom screen serve as two halves of the map; in most levels, you’re able to travel vertically between the two. To make this easier, WayForward added a grappling hook. With it, you’re able to shoot straight up and zoom to the top. It doesn’t hurt enemies directly above you, but it serves its purpose well.


Contra 4 grappling hook


Contra 4 also features ad-hoc multiplayer, allowing for a friend to join you (which is how Contra should be played). You’re also able to collect multiple power-ups, and create new weapon effects and attacks (a la Gunstar Heroes).

The game stays true to the Contra franchise, and is a nice bounce back from the last outing. According to Konami, the idea of the game on the DS came from seeing how successful New Super Mario Bros. was in keeping a franchise traditional, but adding new DS features. The dual screens seem to do that well, and the way some of the boss fights utilize the taller playing field really does breathe new life into the series.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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