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This isn't a review, guys. It's a call to arms. If you own a DS and have patience for anything beyond being able to save your game every-time you get another gold star then stand up, get in your car and go threaten the nearest game store clerk with a face full of spread-shot if he doesn't relinquish your copy of what is officially my favorite DS game. Contra 4.
First and foremost this game is hard. Really hard. Harder than any of the classic Contras, but definitely not as difficult as Shattered Soldier (thank god!). Yeah, it's tough and unless you just recently plowed through Alien Wars without having to use up a continue you're going to suck at it and get your ass handed to you in seconds. Even though the difficulty and learning curve are as high as can be imagined one thing keeps you coming back. Slowly but surely you begin to see the patterns and UNDERSTAND the game. You get good at the game and areas that moments ago sent you flying to the Game Over screen aren't that difficult at all.
The Konami Code helps a lot too though; let's not kid ourselves.
The graphics are fast, crisp, vibrant and beautiful. The animation and effects jump off the screen and are absolutely wonderful. Exploding bridges send debris and fire flying throughout the screen and even though it's all 2D with no exceptions you feel like your giant red bullets are causing serious damage to the plans of all these bad guys. While some could argue that most of the work here was already done for Way Forward (the guys who brought you Ping-Pals!) they did bring a certain flair to the graphical style that definitely makes it look like a sequel and not a remake.
The sound is all throw-back and completely amazing. Right down to the shouts of "Let's party!" and "Come get some!" when you take a hit and are sent blinking back into the action. The early nineties guitar music is intact and carries the levels forward adding to the action and "bad-ass" feel of whole game.
While Way Forward really went above and beyond bringing us a serious and definitely hardcore sequel to this beloved and legendary action series they did pack in enough extras to keep you coming back for months. Like a Challenge mode, a full emulated version of both Contra and Super C, a documentary and unlock-able characters including Probotector.
Out of the very few complaints I have the most prominent one would be the lack of game-sharing multiplayer. Both players have to have a copy of the game to co-operatively play though it together and this is definitely a game I would have like to see with this feature.
It gave me everything I expected and more (not to mention being released on time, fuck you very much Gamestop.com) and I definitely see myself playing this game for quite a long time.