Contra 4 is a 2D action game for the Nintendo DS and the eleventh original installment in the Contra series. The game was released in North America on November 13, 2007. 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.
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?). No European or Australian version of the game has ever been released.
The plot is set in 2638, two years after the events of Contra III. 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 Bill Rizer (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, 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, or give the power-up to another player.
In addition to the standard side view stages, there are also tunnel stages similar to the two “3D view” stages from the original Contra, in which the perspective shifts behind the character’s back. The action in these stages is displayed solely on the upper screen, while the bottom screen is used to display the stage’s map and the locations of power-ups. Other than using both screens and two-card ad hoc cooperative play, Contra 4 makes no usage of the DS’ special features such as touch screen (besides navigating the main menu), microphone, or single card multiplayer.
Arcade Mode is the main portion of the game, which is composed of six standard stages and three tunnel stages, for a total of nine stages. The stages pay frequent homage to Contra, Super Contra (Super C on the NES), Operation C and Contra III. Three difficulty settings are available: easy, normal, and hard. Easy is intended to be accessible to novices by providing the player with plenty of lives and credits, as well as making all power-ups upgraded by default, but does not give the player access to the final two stages nor the ending. Normal is a moderate setting described to be “as difficult as the original Contra”, whereas Hard features faster moving enemies and enemy fire, with less lives. Hard mode also features a different ending from Normal. Arcade Mode can be played cooperatively with a second player via ad hoc.
After completing the main game (Arcade Mode) once on any difficulty setting, a Challenge Mode will be made available in the main menu. This game mode is composed of forty different challenges in which the player must complete a certain level from the main game while fulfilling certain requirements.
The player’s default weapon is a “pea shooter”-type rifle similar to the first two Contra games, as opposed to the autofire machine gun that became standard with Operation C and Contra III. The player can upgrade to the machine gun or any of the other following weapons, by picking up the letter-based falcon icons hidden in flying capsules or on sensors of the wall (enemies in the Tunnel stages will also drop weapons). Picking up the same power-up twice will yield the player an upgraded version of the same weapon. In Easy mode, all weapons are upgraded by default.
|Designer(s)||Tomm Hulett (producer)
Simon Lai (producer)
|Platform(s)||Nintendo DS, Mobile Phone|
|Genre(s)||Run and gun|
|Rating(s)||ESRB: T (Teen)
CERO : B (12+)
|Media||Nintendo DS Game Card|
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