Contra 4 is a 2D action game for the Nintendo DS and the eleventh original installment in the Contra series. Contra 4 was produced by Konami Digital Entertainment in America and developed by WayForward Technologies, making it the first Contra game developed by them, as well as the first original Contra game for a portable platform since the 1991 Game Boy game Operation C. As the game’s title indicates, Contra 4 was designed to be a direct sequel to the Contra games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES (Contra, Super C, and Contra III: The Alien Wars), with a gameplay model similar to those games, and was also in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the original Contra.The game was released in North America on November 13, 2007.
Contra 4 was manufactured by Way Forward studio and released by Konami in year 2007 for Nintendo Dual Screen. A Japanese version has been released on March 13, 2008 under the title of Contra: Dual Spirits (魂斗羅 デュアルスピリッツ Kontora De~yuaru Supirittsu?). It’s a next canon installment to the Contra series, set 2 years after Contra III Alien Wars (1992, SNES) and 3 years before the events of Contra Hard Corps (1994, MegaDrive). Compared to the other Contra games, this is a real difficult one if you are not playing on Easy where your weapons are upgraded to the maximum by default but you can reach only the 7th stage. The gameplay is easy to control, there are several weapons to pick while you can have two of them at one time, there is also a hook like in Bionic Commando to reach ceilings. Speaking of weapons, there are six of them – five of them are useful ([M]achine gun, [S]preadshot, [L]aser, [C]rusher, [F]lamethrower), the useless one is homing missiles (H) and don’t pick them at all costs. Machine Gun and Laser are great because their DPS rate is very high and useful against bosses, Spreadshot is your typical crowd control weapon, Flamethrower and Crusher are dealing good splash damage.
The plot is set in 2638, two years after the events of Contra III: The Alien Wars and three years before the events of Contra: Hard Corps. With the Red Falcon alien threat defeated and Alien Wars finished, the Earth is peaceful once again. However, a similar alien entity calling itself Black Viper begins launching attacks against the human race, causing mass destruction over the planet. After strange readings are detected at the Galuga archipelago (the setting of the original Contra), the Earth Federation sends their four strongest Contra Force commandos on a final strike mission to destroy the Black Viper and its army of aliens, robots, and mutants.
The continuity of Contra 4 is based on the Japanese canon that was adapted into the English localization of series with the release of Contra: Shattered Soldier. However, the game’s producers took a number of liberties with the established canon by integrating elements of the American localizations of the older games, thus fusing the two versions together. The alien Black Viper was originally mentioned only in the North American manual of Operation C, whereas the original plot of that game (released as simply “Contra” in Japan) was about an unnamed superpower creating new weapons using an alien cell. In the timeline presented in the manual and official website, the events of Operation C are interpreted as a previous mission of “Mad Dog” and “Scorpion” – two new characters created specifically for Contra 4, against the Black Viper. In actuality, “Mad Dog” and “Scorpion” were the names used for Bill and Lance for the North American NES games (see playable characters section for details). Additionally, Operation C was originally a solo mission of Lance Bean, aka Scorpion (as the game was one-player only).
Contra 4 is based on the same 2D gameplay system featured in the series through Contra III: The Alien Wars, ignoring many of the game mechanics introduced in later games such as the fixed weapon configurations in Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, returning to the old method of picking up power-up icons to obtain new weapons. The play controls are similar to Contra III: The Alien Wars, including the ability to hold two weapons in inventory. The action spans both screens of the Nintendo DS system and a grappling hook can be used by the player’s character to latch onto railings, allowing the player’s character to move from one screen to the other. Similarly to the arcade version of Super Contra, the player can pick up the same power-up twice, giving them an improved version of the same weapon. The player can also discard a power-up, allowing them to try out a new weapon without losing a previous one.
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