Friday, December 30, 2016

Contra 4 (Nintendo DS, 2007)

Old-school Contra games made a big return in 2007 with Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS. This is a direct sequel to the awesome Contra III: The Alien Wars.



In the real world, no less than 14 years have gone by between the two games.

In the beginning we learn that the aliens have returned and... JESUS CHRIST! THEY FRIED THOSE PEOPLE!

It's like Lost all over again.

These four look like the 00's version of the Bad Dudes. Time to take out the alien trash FOR AMERICA! 

"We bleed red white and blue! BAD DUDES!"

The first level is what you'd expect. It's weird having two screens, though. How will this figure into the gameplay?

...by using both of them for the action. Well, this could be bad if the game gets into bullet hell mode...

You can fire from the first screen to the second screen. This certainly gives you more vertical perspective, but it makes the horizontal view seem a little constricted.

Right off the bat, it feels like there's too much going on. Sometimes it's hard to keep track of where you are, and with so many vertical levels for enemies to lurk on, things can get problematic.

 I get ahold of the Spread beam as soon as possible. Gonna try to hold onto this one. The weapons are your standard series fare, but one new addition is a grappling hook that lets you grab onto platforms or climbable objects high above. It's useful throughout the game.

The first boss is a big metal Wall of Doom, as is tradition. Spread makes quick work of it. Onward to...

...what the hell? It became an EVEN BIGGER WALL OF DOOM.

THIS...is DS intensity!

The second stage is the hardest, at least for me. Enemies attack from tunnels in the ceiling, and it's difficult to keep track of if you aren't used to the dual screens yet.

The laser beam in this game is pretty good, at least on Easy. It fires quickly, makes a cool sound effect, and does a substantial amount of damage. I'll still go with the homing missiles if at all possible, followed by Spread, but if I get the laser beam instead it isn't the end of the world like it might have been in earlier installments of this series.

Waterfall levels are something we need to see more of in modern games. A lot of SNES classics had these, like Pitfall and The Lion King.

The first particularly difficult boss is this gargantuan alien with massive death-blades. THIS is an awesome usage of the dual screens, right here.

Defeat it and it proceeds to chase you back down the waterfall. THIS GAME IS AWESOME.

Whoa! A three-dimensional level! These caught me off guard in the original NES Contra and they do the same here. Ducking won't make you borderline invincible in this one, but running side to side and jumping a lot works well.

Stage four takes us to a refinery near a sea. This kind of location was better when Super Metroid did it.

Operation C represent, as I battle a submarine. I hate when this game makes you fire downwards, as it's very easy to accidentally hop down to your death... rather than jump while firing down.

Yanno, this dual screen design lends itself really well to vertical stages. Moreso than horizontal stages.

The game gets very unforgiving as I battle a giant mech alien in a suit? while climbing up and down on a precarious pipe. At this point you pretty much need to start dodging before the boss attacks in order to get out of the way fast enough. Luckily, it's predictable.

Another great use of two screens, as I fight the next several-story-tall boss. This is rad to the max! ...and makes me feel like reading old Nintendo Powers for some reason. This game released in 2007, but it feels like something much older.

Stage five has another boss fight where I need to aim downward, but at least I'm not in danger of accidentally jumping down through a platform. This stage is entirely a jet bike stage, which actually makes it a bit easier than most of the other stages.

Another 3-D stage! More of the same here, at least until you run into...

Mein Gott! The giant terminator from Contra III! IT'S COMIN' RIGHT FOR US!

Defeat it once and it'll continue to crawl towards you through this narrow passage, pulling itself forward by the hands. Gee, I wonder what movie they got this from.

Speeaking of movies, the ruins stage has that disturbing dog-creature from Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. WHY MUST YOU TAKE OUR DOGS TOO, ALIEN MENACE?

This stage is the prettiest to look at. Which is weird in a way, since on a base level the stage is an ugly Terminator-esque hellscape. However, the sky and the usage of color contrasts really make it stand out.

This stage has not one but THREE bosses. First is this fairly unmemorable tank. Why hasn't this series ever plaigarized the HK tank? It has xenomorphs and terminators already, so why not one of T2's iconic giant death-machines? Maybe an HK tank is a bridge too far.

Second boss is a giant metal spider right out of Final Fantasy 8. It uses the dual-screen pretty well, but not as well as the Godzilla-sized bosses of the earlier levels. It's weird that there are egg sacs stuck to the walls here. No doubt this was to make the fight creepier, but it makes little sense considering the boss is a robot.

Third and final boss is a massive creature. Like the submarine fight earlier, you need to stay up top and fire downward while jumping, which becomes an issue when you can accidentally jump down to your death instead just by mis-timing. The end of the fight has you jumping onto a jet bike to take out the head of the boss. The whole thing is wildly unsettling.

On Easy mode, this is the final boss of the game. Looks like I'll be playing again on Normal, because we need to see the remaining two stages.

Normal mode is extremely unforgiving (harder than the old games in the series, IMO) but there's a trick. If you get an extra life at the exact moment that you lose your last life, you go from 00 to 99. It's difficult to time correctly, but it's easiest to pull off at the first miniboss of the game (seen here). Winning this fight always gets you an extra life, so it's just a matter of getting the final shot on it while getting hit at the same time. Once I had 99 lives, I was able to better handle the pressures of normal. I need to get shots of those last two stages, dammit!

By the time I got back to where I left off in the Terminator 2 ruins, I was in rough shape. Three billion human lives may have ended on Judgment Day, but I lost FIFTY SEVEN lives getting back here.

Moving on to Normal mode's EXCLUSIVE PREMIUM FINAL LEVELS. Stage eight is yet another 3-D stage. It doesn't take long, as the three 3-D stages are the quickest and easiest in the game. This one is noteworthy because it finally puts me in combat with a xenomorph, seen here. The end must be drawing near.

More importantly, the stage boss... is a giant ballsack. The manual suggests that it's a heart... no, that's definitely a ballsack. Judging from the size, I can only conclude that it belongs to Vince McMahon.

The last area begins with the creepiest room imaginable.

A giant, severed spine. Mountains of what appear to be nude, dead humans in the background. What circle of hell is this?

At last, our hero finds himself face-to-face with the Big Bad of the game...and it's a xenomorph queen. At least it has some fairly major design changes (insect-derivative parts, mainly) that give it a somewhat unique look.

This fight is pure cheapness, and seems to be unwinnable if you start on the left side. The boss will repeatedly do charge attacks back and forth that can't be dodged. However, if you start on the right side of the screen and blast away, you can beat the boss before it charges in that direction. Weird design.

After that, the boss grows to massive proportions and you have to blast it in the... well... we here at Corona Jumper aren't too sure what this giant opening is supposed to be.

It wouldn't be Contra without facehuggers, and they attack en masse in the final level. The laser weapon actually works wonders here since it travels through walls. That weapon makes this part simple. If you get killed and lose it, though, the standard weapon is totally inadequate here.

Falling ceilings try to crush you later on. What is this, Mario?

Final boss time. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING

...OH GOD THERE'S MORE OF IT

Winning is a matter of taking out the tentacle-heads, then grappling up onto the spot they occupied and blasting the core. Said core will then fly out by itself and fight you for a moment, then return to the larger body. This repeats about ten times, because this fight goes on FOREVER. The homing missiles gimp it pretty well, at least, eliminating the need to take out the tentacle heads to reach the core.

At last, the fight mercifully ends. That was one of the worst final battles I've ever had. Not only was it an absolute bullet sponge, it was also fairly cheap. Even once you learn to anticipate the cheapness, the fight goes on for SO LONG that it just becomes way too repetitive.

GET TO THE CHOPPA, etc

The Bad Dudes stand tall as the people of Earth celebrate. The women in this shot are all oddly sexualized. I believe the subtext is "Make love to me, Randy!"

And that concludes this game. AMERICA! BAD DUDES!

Great game overall, but be warned that it's extremely difficult (unless you're a pro, in which case you can tell me how easy it is) on Normal. Playing on Easy makes things more enjoyable, but then you have to deal with the game being cut short. I wish that mode had gone all the way to the end instead.

On a final note, the hero of this game makes me think of one man: Sid Vicious.


4 comments:

  1. Holy crap, you lost 89 lives on Normal mode! I can't imagine hard mode...
    speaking of which, are there any exclusive hard mode levels?

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    Replies
    1. Nope, Normal mode is the whole deal level-wise. It's absolutely brutal.

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  2. Maybe the developers wanted the series to finally have a good laser weapon.

    WHAT THE HELL IS THAT FINAL BOSS

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  3. I've never seen an image mail of a DS game. This is really new for me, looking at the mails vertically instead of horizontally...it's even a challenge!

    I'm like "this is like Contra 3" but then the burning skeletons! This never would have been allowed in the SNES days. Creepy as hell.

    I like how much the first stage looks like the first stage of other Contras.

    I'm impressed the designers respected the Contra 3D levels so much they're using them again here in the Year of Our Lord 2007.

    DS is where 2D stayed alive right? I think they did a fine job sticking with the look of the original.

    I couldn't do these vertical screens for every game, but I'm a big fan of them here because they give you so many different looks and help a ton with the "enemy looming on the horizon" effect.

    This waterfall stage is a real pleasure to look at.

    "If you get an extra life at the exact moment that you lose your last life, you go from 00 to 99" Whoa. THAT'S new. Hey does this still have the Konami Code?

    I'd like to congratulate you for surviving the trauma of dying hundreds of times. Yow.

    ReplyDelete