contra 4

a review of Contra 4
a videogame developed by WayForward Technologies
and published by konami
for mobile phones and the nintendo DS
text by tim rogers

1.5 stars

Bottom line: Contra 4 is “a painless, forgettable little exercise in point-missing.”

As human beings blessed with remarkable patience, we here at Action Button Dot Net didn’t immediately scream ourselves into comas when we heard that an American — that is, a non-Japanese — developer was being put in charge of Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS. With Zen-like resolve, we refrained from jamming out a pre-emptive review that centered on the fact that developer WayForward Technologies’ previous effort had, for the record, been Shrek the 3rd: Ogres and Donkeys (rated E for Everyone). For one thing, as a group of individuals so convinced that half of the people who do make blockbuster videogames should probably be imprisoned for petty theft, we’re all about handing out the benefit of the doubt to anyone who actually hasn’t had the opportunity to make a game that IGN is going to pretend to give a stuff about. Furthermore, while WayForward’s Sigma Star Saga was, in execution, a piece of greasy stuff, it was so full of out-of-left-field, balls-to-floor concepts (a role-playing game where the “battle system” involves “old-school shoot-em-upping” is welcome, by default, in a world where RPG “battle systems” are normally focused on selecting “fight” from a menu and then watching your dudes fight) that it gets a miraculous passing grade. If Contra 4 is these guys’ chance to work with a budget, more power to them. What’s next, Square-Enix putting a D-team of unknowns on Final Fantasy XIII? Go right ahead! Why not put the development team who brought us Marc Ecko’s Getting Up in charge of the next Silent Hill game, while you’re at it? (Being dead serious here.) Let’s put Darth Vader into Soul Calibur, too, while we’re at it. I mean, let’s face it, when it comes to Japanese videogames, “experience” usually means little more than “an octogenarian in charge”. Well, unless you’re talking about Contra‘s esteemed director / designer Nobuya Nakazato, still alive, still kicking, still brilliant, whose latest two Contra games for the PlayStation 2 were both amazing and written off by critics the Western world over as “not exactly the same thing as the original Contra“. That man — well, simply put, he’s a genius, and we’d like to marry him. Did you know he directed Vandal Hearts, the only strategy RPG you can play from start to finish without getting hit once? (The maps are small enough so that the enemies don’t possess “AI”, they just move in pre-programmed “patterns” to accommodate for the player’s actions.) Here’s Irem making R-Type Tactics, when Nakazato had already made Contra Tactics a decade ago.

 

Enough about awesome stuff, though, and on with the disappointment: it’s a shame that Contra 4 kind of misses the point all around. It’s got enough flow and enough snap, for one thing, though it really just doesn’t crunch enough. It mushes along. Whereas Neo Contra is the epitome of crunch, Contra 4 is too stop-starty for its own good. Review-writers whistling, yee-hawing, moosecalling, and hi-ho-ing about the game’s “extreme difficulty” need to dump a bottle of chill pills in their tomato soup tomorrow at lunch. What are these people doing, just holding right on the control pad, and tapping the Action Button with the stylus? Contra 4 is easily playable by anyone with a cool head (and, say, the ability to win Virtua Fighter 5 tournaments despite actually, methodically sucking at Guilty Gear) if you shift your damn paradigm for three seconds, stop in place, look at where the enemies are coming from, and rush the holes. Play it like a runningback, not a linebacker, for God’s sake. (Finally! A similie everyone in our readership will understand!) I hated the game, personally, for my first two clumsy attempts, and then went on to get all the way to stage five on my next credit, and lord knows I’m not a rocket scientist. When I got to the end, I was convinced that I’d had it all wrong when I said I hated this stupid game. In the end, it’s not worth hating. It’s just there.

Contra games have always been about sadistic locomotion. Hell, all classic Konami games are about locomotion. Observe how little this skilled player stops in his entire playthrough of the original Castlevania. Now check out Contra III. Or Contra. These are speed runs by highly skilled players, though really, it’s not impossible to think that these games can’t be cleared flawlessly on a first attempt by someone who’s just really good at videogames. It’s a tenuous point we’re trying to make here: Contra 4‘s idea of “insane difficulty” comes less from the actual heart of the Contra games and more from playground rumors — about this game called Contra that’s so hard because you die in one hit and there’s even a thirty lives code because it’s that hard. Contra 4 strives to make a difficult game by flooding every corner of every stage with endlessly spawning, somersaulting enemies and furious blinking bullets. The level designers tossed off each little monsterpiece probably without bothering to play-test them. Let’s see how the jerks like this! In the end, though, the game is missing the fleeting flow and motion that previous (ahem, Japanese-developed) Contra titles had all sharpened into perfection, maybe because the (Japanese) developers had originally conceived the games as arcade entertainment devices, or maybe because the (Japanese) developers just employed a lot of common sense. If breathing deeply and rushing the holes in the enemy lines (while never letting go of the fire button) is how the (American) developer wants us to play Contra 4, however, then we’ll have to call them more clever than we might have given credit for — and then scold them for making the game otherwise kind of flat and bland.

Review-writers all over the internet were able to excuse the so-called “insane difficulty” because the game has plenty of “old-school charm”. Huh. “Old-school charm” is a tough demon to quantify, though I’m pretty sure they’re all talking about the little quippy liner notes strewn all over the game. I’ve removed the game from my DS since playing it, and there’s a copy of Dragon Quest IV lodged in the cartridge slot right now and it will require surgery to be removed, so I can’t check and make sure, though I vaguely remember the “help” text on Contra 4‘s title menu proclaiming that “Arcade Mode” is “All about beefy dudes and spread gun. Just what the Contra ordered. Heck yeah!” (Warning: embellished.) The (black-and-white) instruction manual cringingly recalls fond memories of the over-the-top, rage-against-the-Reaganomics leveling-with-the-kids Konami instruction manuals of the 1980s. It’s like, man, when we were kids, this stuff was hilarious! Now, it’s kind of like your uncle flying three thousand miles to come to your wedding, and then dying on the plane (drug overdose) while wearing a Santa Claus suit.

That’s the way Konami classics were, way back when — stone-faced beef-dudes with spread guns raging against nameless alien threats while their instruction manuals ranged from cheeky to lippy to jerky. Now, the global climate has mutated; scientists and the police have determined that precisely half of the anonymous saps stepping forward to type “lol” at the latest regurgitation of the “eternal battle between pirates and ninjas” meme as reported by Kotaku.com either played high school football or tried out for it. We’re sixteen years away from a generation of Al Bundys who would rather play Guitar Hero than watch John Wayne as “Hondo”. John Wayne never needed a hecking spread gun.

We can’t really blame WayForward for pandering to these people, anyway: they’re where the money is at — all of the money. Still, once again, an innate quality of Contra is lost on these new Western overlords: though it’s exceedingly hard to tell from the first couple of installments, the entire Contra series — big dudes, big guns, big monsters — is a gradually accelerating elbow jab directed at the ribs of American pop culture. Exhibit A would be that your dual-rifle-wielding Schwarzenegger-like hero motherhecker, arms heavier than nuclear missiles, manages to somersault no less than nine times in the air every time he jumps. Contra Hard Corps, with its ladlefuls of bizarre, should have gotten the message across that the over-the-top violence in these games was clearly a gleeful pastiche. It seems that in America, a country where half the people can’t read, 75% of the people can’t locate the North American continent on a map, and 95% couldn’t succinctly explain the difference between Jerry Lewis and Alan Greenspan, it just didn’t get through. Kids genuinely thought that “beefy dude hanging onto soaring intercontinental ballistic missile with one arm while shooting a shotgun with an endless supply of ammunition with the other arm” was a worthy role model, like they were going to be able to pick up a brochure at the career fair. (In the case of Neo Contra, the brochure’s cover would read “Beefy dude who takes on an entire air-force-worth of planes with just a machinegun while running in place atop spinning helicopter blades”.) Years later, we had the “stylish hard action” of Devil May Cry, and years after that, we had Devil May Cry 3, which kids on the internet squealed about: the hero, Dante, is such a badass, like when he surfs on that missile and stuff, though what the heck is with the pizza in the first cut-scene man that stuff is so hecking gay. Lo and behold, Devil May Cry 4 casts a CG scientologist pederast in the role of Dante and a tight-faced emomaniac in the role of the main character, Nero.

Neo Contra, most poignantly, casts a katana-wielding black samurai as one of its beefy heroes. There’s a CG cut-scene (essential viewing) where said badass black samurai cuts a group of rushing soldiers in half with his katana — “Awesome!” shout the YouTube kids. Then a Hummer comes blasting at him full-speed — with a shoulder-thrust, he knocks the hecking thing over. “BADASS!” shout the YouTube kids. Then a group of a hundred men come charging at him — with one vicious slash, he turns them into a volcano of blood. “FUCK YEAH!!” shouts YouTube. Then a huge, monolithic threat shows itself, and our very black, very samurai hero summons power from the depths of his soul, and unleashes a slash that cuts the very planet earth in half. “TOO FUCKING RADICAL!!” ejaculates YouTube. The screen grows black. Ten seconds later, we see our two heroes swimming through space in their underwear. Like, somehow, the destruction of the planet earth had also stripped them of their clothes. Suddenly, the internet is afraid — deathly so — that mass media might, as their preacher insists, be intent on turning them into homosexuals:

“WTF??! That was great up to the point those two appearing swimming in space humming. Eww.”

“WTF!? is this the reward for getting overall S rank in the game… are you kidding me!!! I lost my respect for the S rank after seeing this -_-“

“2 gay guys swimming on space WTF!!!”

“It went from pretty cool to real gay”

(Ignore the comments that call the video brilliant. Those people are obviously from the UK.)

So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: Contra, in the words of its most treasured (and paying) fans, “went from pretty cool to real gay“. This is why an American team was called in to handle Contra 4 — to keep this eternally told tale of shirtless men with large machine rifles as heterosexual as possible. There is to be no hecking with the average gamer’s grip on sexuality.

We could say that, ever since Nobuya Nakazato breathed life into Contra, Japanese videogame designers’ respect for the medium in general has been dwindling into a razor-sharp point. Game characters’ hairstyles come to resemble behives on top of layer cakes; robots crafted by pedophile scientists to look like little girls and wear skirts short enough to show off their panties utter bone-dry dialogue as cogs in a rat-hecking nonsense-plot machine forged by a supercomputer bent on intergalactic terrorism. Contra was too subtle for the times it occupied, and Contra 4, as a bald-faced re-painting, sure as hell isn’t any less subtle. Mind you, there’s nothing terrible about it. It’s not worth a groan — just a little, high-pitched sigh. If anything, it’s nice enough anti-proof that if ever there was a time for literature in videogames, it might as well be right now.

 

Reading Contra 4‘s Wikipedia page is a headache and a half. Particularly the section about unlockable characters. Apparently, when the original Contra was released in the US, Konami of America, missing the point as they would many times again in the future, altered the game’s storyline so that it took place in modern times. When Contra 3 was released, with stages that were obviously set in some far-off future, Konami of America had no choice — they had to admit to the future setting, and rename the main characters so that they were “descendents” of the main characters from the original Contra. Now we have Contra 4, with its lovingly compiled unlockable encyclopedias on the history of the series, with two playable characters named “Mad Dog” and “Scorpion”, names that were originally used in the American versions of Contra and Super C as the code names for Bill and Lance. Contrary to the game’s supposed “respect” for the series “canon”, they are treated as “new characters”. Furthermore, Mad Dog is black, which is cool, though that doesn’t change the fact that he’s just a palette-swap of all the other characters, for stuff’s sake.

In short, the missteps of Contra 4, on its short trip from concept to videogame, or bill to law, or whatever, can be summarized by this paragraph from Wikipedia:

“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 few mild liberties with the established canon by integrating elements of the American localizations of the older games. The alien Black Viper was originally mentioned only in the American manual of Operation C, whereas the original plot of that game 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 (the new characters in the game) against Black Viper (whereas the original game was a solo mission of Bill Rizer).”

The inverse erection caused by reading that has officially punctured my bladder. I just did a test urination, and I predict I will be pissing blood for six weeks at the least.

WayForward Technologies said in interviews with “gaming blogs” all over the place that they were really glad they’d been offered the chance to make a Contra game, and they promised they wouldn’t mess it up. On the surface, they kept their promise. Though we kind of wish they would have tried to, you know, make up some actual compelling game concepts instead of gazing at their shoes the whole damned time, dead scared of pissing off people who know the difference between Red Falcon and Black Viper (people who probably can’t tie their shoes, don’t have jobs, and are playing your game via an emulator and a flash cartridge, anyway). Instead, all we get is this lame little tacked-on grappling hook, which the official site proclaims “allows for new combat situations and dramatic set pieces that underscore the game’s adrenaline-soaked pedigree”. Actually, it just lets you slurm up to the top screen whenever there’s a grabbable platform up there, and usually only at points where you absolutely have to go up there, anyway.

It’d be nice to say something, right here, about the two-player co-op, though the game requires multiple god damned cartridges, so there goes that.

Really. Is “it’s old-school” or “bound not to disappoint fans of the original Contra” the best praise WayForward could have hoped for? What kind of world are we living in? For Contra‘s 20th Anniversary, if you’re not going to put something new on the table, why not just release a cartridge with all the old Contra games on it? I’d take a compilation with flawless emulations of Contra III and Hard Corps both on it over Contra 4‘s vanilla remake of the original Contra any day. Thank god MegaDrive emulation on PSP is so perfect! Hard Corps and Ranger X are probably all a man needs, to be honest.

If you arrive at the end of this still looking for the evolution of Contra, look no further than Gears of War. Remember the last stage, on the deathtrain streaking under a blood-red, post-apocalyptic sky? There’s a cut-scene where a subhumanoid alien monster berserker freak charges through a stack of crates. The crates shatter and explode, and for an instant, their contents are revealed: boxes of cereal. With 98% of the world’s population wiped out, someone is still shipping cereal from one place to another. That’s a classy little jab right there. That Cliffy B guy gets it.

–tim rogers

paragraph i couldn’t fit anywhere else: Likewise, when From Software released Metal Wolf Chaos for the Xbox — a game in which the hotshot president of the United States sets off on a continent-spanning giant robot battle against a coup-staging vice president — the internet’s children didn’t go “Fuck yeah! Satire!” — they went “Fuck yeah! Awesome!”

Comments

29 Responses to contra 4

  1. I liked the challenges. Everything else was Ritalin.

    I’d like to see one of you tackle Ikaruga. Before it hits mainstream.

  2. also: james it’s wholly forgivable if you like contra 4

    i suppose it’s highly possible to like contra 4

    it’s just the principle of the point-missing and the obsessed-homage execution that docks its score

  3. Hi Tim,
    I have an off-topic question about your older reviews (specifically killer7). When you get the chance, could you please put that and your other IC/LPN reviews on Actionbutton? Thanks.

  4. You’re right, Tim, the game is a piece of stuff.

    Also, please write more reviews like this and less like the Uncharted one. (o^^)b

  5. “Likewise, when From Software released Metal Wolf Chaos for the Xbox — a game in which the hotshot president of the United States sets off on a continent-spanning giant robot battle against a coup-staging vice president — the internet’s children didn’t go “Fuck yeah! Satire!” — they went “Fuck yeah! Awesome!””

    Is it possible for me to honestly say, and believe, simultaneously, both? You’re talking to a man, here, who thinks the dual pinnacles of modern cinema are Citizen Kane and The Road Warrior. In all seriousness, I’d rather watch Die Hard for its artistic integrity than any French film in black and white (though The Seventh Seal is one of my favorite movies ever).

    I think Contra III is one of the best action games of all time and respect the hell out of Shattered Soldier, haven’t played Neo Contra and never will play Contra 4 (as I will never own a DS). So tell me: where does a man like me fit in your analysis?

  6. Man, that cut scene is my kinda thing. ESPECIALLY with the swimming in the end.

  7. Cuba:

    Well, I find the concept of Metal Wolf Chaos to be pretty awesome and satirical, myself. I wasn’t saying that everyone in the world either found it to be both awesome and awesome satire, I’m just saying that the general consensus is that it was BAD-ASS, not that it was hilarious.

    You’re certainly welcome to be more enlightened about these things. Don’t let me stop you.

    Gilbert:

    Yeah!

    As with my response to Cuba: it’s nice that we’re all on the same page. That’s the point of this review here: identifying ourselves as queerly as possible as people who can appreciate extreme violence because of (rather than in spite of) its comedic value. Contra 4 is just a beef’n’guns facade.

  8. I’ll never finish watching Fist of the North Star, it makes me laugh so hard that I can’t get through two episodes without my chest starting to hurt. If I ever get the opportunity to direct big budget feature films, I’m gonna pounce on either Contra or Metal Slug before Uwe Boll can get to them. Uwe Boll is, of course, the professional boxer who hospitalized a bunch of movie critics for criticizing the movies he tried to direct.

  9. Whoa, I thought LPN was gone! (couldn’t access it I guess my connection was on the fritz). Never mind my request. Sorry ’bout that. Uh, yeah, I’ll get Neo Contra instead of this.

  10. Maybe you should review Dragon Quest IV, as, let me tell you, it’s also stuck firmly in my DS.

  11. God damn, a game is made that doesn’t hold your hand in any manner what so ever and that most of the players who play it will never see the last two levels and Tim can still stuff on it for being made by Americans I guess? Tim Rogers isn’t any Japanese name I’ve ever heard of.

    This contra game is good, the fact tim is disapointed by a “vanilla remake of the original Contra” while saying how DQ4, another NES remake although it has the fortune of being japanese in origin, will never leave his ds is brilliant and not hypocritical in the least. Did matrix remake that one like ff3 and 4?, maybe square is already handing off titles to d-list development houses.

    Contra is not about cg cutscenes, no matter how much fun they make of stupid action heroes and scenes. Contra is the 2 player nes shoot em up that you played with your friend till you beat the stuff out of it. Which is what contra 4 is, and don’t give it stuff for multi card play, if you’re playing 2p you want someone who is dedicated enough to the game to buy his own damn copy. Otherwise you two asshats aren’t beating it.

  12. I think you’re taking the review a little too personally, StompStomp (which is no American name I’VE ever heard of).

  13. I have no strong opinions about Contra, but I will note that Wayforward is the group behind the quite excellent GBC game Shantae and its tragically unreleased GBA sequel.

  14. I could not possibly agree more with StompStomp’s post. I fail to see how the missile-riding sequence in (Japan’s) Contra 3 is brilliant satire, while the missile-riding sequence in (America’s) Contra 4 is forcedly BAD ASS beef ‘n’ guns schlock, to use an example.

    But for the sake of argument, let’s say Contra 4 is beef ‘n’ guns schlock. How much does that really detract from your enjoyment of the game? And as long as both WayForward Technologies and Tim are both obsessively poring over Contra’s past before rendering judgment on what they think C4 should be (I’m sure WFT is sincerely sorry that they couldn’t quite relay the same level of biting irony that the Neo Contra Unlockable S-Rank Ending Video had), how much harder was your beloved NeoContra than C4, really? How many credits did it take to clear it on Easy? On Normal?

    On Contra 4 “missing the point,” taker closer look at the grey-and-brown Shattered Soldier (which you may know as Shin Contra Spirits). Shattered Soldier’s (Japanese) development team decided to intentionally stop between levels to progress a plot about Bill Rizer’s wrongful accusation of the murder of Lance Beam, but Contra 4 ruined the series with its misguided devotion to canon in the form of completely unintrusive unlockable content? Contra 4 is the one that’s stop-and-starty? One game is absolved of its crimes, the other sentenced to a stuffty review. Could this have anything to do with the respective developers’ countries of origin, I wonder?

    It’s okay to like Japan, Tim. I like Japan, too. But you’re really starting to sound like more of a snobby clubbist with each piece I read.

    Lastly, what exactly does this mean: “It’s got enough flow and enough snap, for one thing, though it really just doesn’t crunch enough. It mushes along.” So what we have here is a videogame that delivers plenty of snap and mush, but comes up short in the crunch department. Am I the only one confused, here? Please define your parameters for “crunch” if you’re going to use the term in every review.

  15. I’d like to think that all the knocks at Contra 4’s country of origin were adequately sarcastic! This is the website (and I am the man) that calls Gears of War “the game of the decade” with a straight face, for heck’s sake. Wouldn’t hurt to open your eyes every once in a while! I know it’s the internet, though seriously!

    I also believe that I went on to define what a lack of crunch means, in Contra 4‘s case, in the next few paragraphs. It’s about the locomotion of the game. Contra 4 is too stop-starty. Other Contras move.

    Whether or not the missile-riding is satire is beside the point; in Contra 4, it’s all just imitation. Contra 3 had your dudes hanging from missiles; Neo Contra had them running on helicopter blades. That is what we call “escalation”. If you’re not going to escalate, why make a “sequel”?

    And the “story” parts in Shattered Soldier were pretty hilarious, if you didn’t notice!

  16. If all the knocks against America putting out a contra and being too dumb to laugh at the absurdity of the action is meant as sarcasm that makes the majority of the review complete bullstuff. There isn’t enough criticism about the actual game play to warrant the score it received. I think this is a case of oh stuff I’m caught, Haha just kidding guys, I love those American bastards, EVEN AN XBOX GAME!

    Citing YouTube and Wikipedia for sources of internet opinion are the worst possible places to turn to. YouTube is the largest repository of people with downs syndrome who know how to type. Wikipedia on the other hand wins for most psychos with OCD who need to chill the heck out.

    The only actual gameplay flaw I took away from the review was it was too “stop-starty” to use the technical term. Tim’s examples of how contra should be played however, are motherhecking speed runs, which no game is truly designed for. I would go so far to say that Tim hasn’t played an older contra recently, because 1 and 3 are both very stop-starty in a great many places when played by normal gamers. In contra 1 you’ve got the plasma factory with it’s jets of fire, the forest with several slow pointless minibosses that you just have to stand and shoot at, and grenades constantly coming from trees forcing you to time every step. In 3 in the first stage you have the remade boss wall, the flame jets again, the whole fire section while overhand climbing on rails. Contra as a series is “stop-starty” it’s not just this one.

    I also defy you to provide an example of a portable title escalating any console series.

    Maybe this game would have gotten a higher score out of tim, if after riding a motherhecking ICBM to the ground, (Note: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile > Helicopter blades > missiles in terms of riding the most absurd stuff realistically) there was a fat sign that said welcome to Nagasaki or Hiroshima at the impact site.

  17. “I would go so far to say that Tim hasn’t played an older contra recently, because 1 and 3 are both very stop-starty in a great many places when played by normal gamers. In contra 1 you’ve got the plasma factory with it’s jets of fire, the forest with several slow pointless minibosses that you just have to stand and shoot at, and grenades constantly coming from trees forcing you to time every step. In 3 in the first stage you have the remade boss wall, the flame jets again, the whole fire section while overhand climbing on rails. Contra as a series is “stop-starty” it’s not just this one.”

    Without blindly defending our favorite Japanophile… well, that’s just not what he means.

  18. “I also defy you to provide an example of a portable title escalating any console series.”

    Zelda: Link’s Awakening!

    “Citing YouTube and Wikipedia for sources of internet opinion are the worst possible places to turn to. YouTube is the largest repository of people with downs syndrome who know how to type. Wikipedia on the other hand wins for most psychos with OCD who need to chill the heck out.”

    You’re doing a good job of helping Action Button Dot Net compete!

    “Maybe this game would have gotten a higher score out of tim, if after riding a motherhecking ICBM to the ground, (Note: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile > Helicopter blades > missiles in terms of riding the most absurd stuff realistically)”

    Are you serious? If a missile is moving at, say, 500 miles per hour, and there’s another missile moving parallel to it at 501 miles per hour, and I’m hanging from the slower missile, then the faster missile is only moving a relative one mile per hour! Theoretically, with the right amount of (godly) upper body strength, a man could reach over and grab onto the faster missile rather easily. And have you ever played Neo Contra? Do you know what “Helicopter blades” refers to? There’s a scene where your dude is literally running in place atop spinning helicopter blades! That’s harder than standing on a missile, I’d think!

    Either way, riding missiles in Contra 4 is really just a limp attempt at escalation, I’m sorry.

    “there was a fat sign that said welcome to Nagasaki or Hiroshima at the impact site.”

    See, that would have been hilarious!

  19. I know how helicopter blades work, and I can work out the logistics of how running atop them would be impressive. However you don’t seem to realize that an ICBM is not so much a missle as it is a rocket, as in it leaves our atmosphere before reaching it’s destination. And in Contra 4 your asshole is hanging from it from one arm, it goes a great deal faster than 500 or even 501 miles an hour. But forget the speed, you’re badass meat man is not breathing the entire sequence, shirtless in sub zero temperatures, and not passing out. That’s as hard ass as swimming in space humming.

    This isn’t even a matter of how cool the sequences in a contra game should be. I don’t see how the game warrants a 1 and a half star while being one of the best action games I’ve played on my ds probably ever. Multi player MPH withheld

    Link’s awakening is a vanilla remake of Link to the past, unless that stupid fetch quest is escalating the game beyond it’s snes counterpart. Or jumping maybe, and those awful platforming segments shoehorned in.

  20. If it helps, I’ve actually played through Contra 4 a good several times and would really like to play it multiplayer 🙁

    Your assertion that if the second player doesn’t plan to purchase his own copy, then we’re not going to beat the game is completely invalid because you don’t know my friend. We’d devote a good couple hours to co-opping that stuff.

    Escalation would have been if Contra 4 featured a scene where your hero has to surf on the sun.

  21. Tim shouldn’t you be working on getting me the Fukubukuro instead of playing Contra 4 with your friends or responding to people on the internet? Sometimes I get bored at work ya know…

  22. “If you arrive at the end of this still looking for the evolution of Contra, look no further than Gears of War.”

    oh hey.

    on the train stage, at the same moment, my brother and i (playing co-op like we used to play contra 3) realized the exact same thing. he even turned to me and said “you know what this reminds me of? a modern contra.”

    nice to see someone else thinks the same thing! i haven’t actually heard anyone else make the connection, but i’m glad i’m not alone in thinking that!

  23. There hasn’t been a good contra game since Contra 3 on the snes. I stopped being disappointed by the series after shattered soldier. Besides being one of the worst contra games ever, it’s also one of the weakest games of 2007. The only positive thing I can say about it is that it’s about 25 minutes long.

  24. I don’t know, I think Shattered Soldier is pretty good.

    I probably wouldn’t play it (or Neo Contra) again, though.

    In other news, you know what’s great, and doesn’t get old? Advance Wars.

  25. Hi Mr. Rogers, on your comments of Contra being a jab at American movies and all…

    I dunno, I think it’s suppose to be absurd and awesome at the same time. A little on myself, I’m Asian, my cultural perspective is not like an American’s, though I do live in the US. I’m not Japanese, but I think there are values of East Asian culture which apply.

    Flipping that many times in the air, being a muscular dude that shoots rockets, that’s cool. It’s absurd, but it’s also just really cool. It’s like an old Kung Fu movie that does a ridiculous super move like a bunch of ninjas combining into one huge ninja. That is laughable to some people, but I appreciate it as something awesome. I can go “hahah, wow”, but I am not looking down on it, I am happy something so fun can happen.

    >>.If you arrive at the end of this still looking for the evolution of Contra, look no further than Gears of War. Remember the last stage, on the deathtrain

    ah, yeah. That deathtrain, playing it at my friend’s made me think “whoah, this is like Contra turned 90 degrees”

    I also enjoyed fighting a supermutant COVERED IN BATS that BLOCKED MISSILES and then SHOT THE BATS AT YOU. It was fun, that something so fun could be fought in an American shooter.

    this is also one of the main reasons I enjoy Gears of War far more than Halo

    I dunno, maybe you wrote your article that way on purpose, but whatever, there is always a segment of your reviews I enjoy.

  26. whoops, hit the enter button by accident. Anyway, to sum up, I disagree with this review. Contra 4 kicks all kinds of ass. Probably the best Contra game to ever be released. And certainly more enjoyable than Neo Contra, which was good, but no Contra 4.

  27. I don’t know why you guys are talking about “Escalation”, when Contra 4’s last level takes place inside the ass of a alien 50x the size of any other monster in the series.

    And I wonder how’d you’d all think of Contra Rebirth, Konami’s own “Japanese” Contra game that is more focused on homage than “escalation”.

    I know Action Button doesn’t usually discuss game mechanics in anything other than a physcological manner, but my only problem with the game is the fact that the default and level 1 weapons suck so much. In Contra 3, all the weapons were useful, and even if you lost one, your default machine gun would give you a fighting chance. Here, you have to hold onto your weapons, or you’ll be stuck with the useless pea shooter or the pretty meh level 1 weapons. It just makes dying more stressful, since you can actually lose things now.

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