Monday, December 8, 2008

On the Contra-ary

Everyone loves Contra. Blowing up enemy soldiers and aliens since 1987™. But it kind of faded in the shadows after the SNES version came out. Fortunately for us, a retro revival of sorts has been taking place. Classic games are being remade and/or repackaged for audiences old and new alike.

Contra 4 is a DS game that came out a year or two ago. I didn't get it when it came out, but my lovely wife managed to get me a copy for my birthday this year. As you all know, I am extremely busy and awesome. Therefore, it can take me a while to get to a game. But last night, I decided to give ol' Contra 4 a try.

What I find was surprising, and in a good way. It is essentially good old-fashioned NES-style blow-the-crap-out-of-everything gameplay, mixed with slick new graphics. BAM! What a combo. Right in the face. It is simultaneously mind-blowing and entertaining.

Anyone familiar with Contra (the rest of you, repent!) knows that the series is notorious for being ridiculously difficult. Naturally, this one is no exception. There are nine levels to conquer. But don't go thinking it'll take but a few minutes to beat. You'll be lucky to last that long. The game does have multiple difficulties, so you can start easy enough and work your way up. And work you will.

To give you an idea of how different the difficulties are, think of it this way: Easy is like holding a large book in your hand with your arm extended. It starts out easy enough, but it gets harder to maintain. Hard is like holding a riding lawnmower in your hand with your arm extended. It starts out nearly impossible and you'll be lucky to come away with your fingers intact.

In all seriousness, the game has many strong points. It's Contra. That's really all it needs. Plus, it has ridiculously huge bosses and insanely tricky levels. Plus, there's more to the game than that. Once you beat the game for the first time, you unlock challenge mode. You get 40 challenges, most of which are insanely difficult by themselves. As you beat challenges, you unlock bonus materials. Some of the kinda cool unlockables include new characters (who don't change the gameplay at all), box art of old Contra games, etc. Some of really cool unlockables include the original NES Contra.

Wait, what? Seriously? Contra on the go? RAD! And the fun doesn't stop there. Beat some more challenges and you can get Super C, Contra's sequel, also for NES. Two entire Contra games. With the Konami code and all the retro awesomeness intact. You see, this is where the game really shines. More games need things like this.

I was surprised to find out that the game only sold 200,000 copies. That's too bad, really. The DS is an incredible machine with some incredible games. And if people don't buy these awesome games, companies won't make them anymore. But I digress.

All in all, the game is a lot of fun. Hard mode, in my opinion, is too hard. But some people like it that way. And I don't have to beat it on Hard to unlock original Contra. In fact, you don't gain anything by beating Hard instead of Easy. I love that.

  • Classic Contra gameplay
  • Slick, hand-drawn graphics
  • Incredible unlockables
  • TWO built-in NES games!
  • Too hard
  • Sometimes the 'dead-area' between the screens gets in the way
  • Some of the challenges are merciless
  • Also, it's really hard
This game has earned a Blatantly Biased:

This is the 107th game to be beaten this year. What could be the final game?...


Rachel said...

Only one more game to go!!! :D I'm so excited for you, baby! You've done a fantabulous job keeping up with your 108 in 2008 goal. I'm glad you liked this game. I thought it looked silly, but I'm not very knowledgable when it comes to most games :) Good luck with finals this week! You've done a wonderful job keeping up with school, work, home, and games :) I love you! xoxo

Devin said...

Wow, one more to go... That's pretty cool. Contra is possibly the coolest game that someone came up with one time. Yeah...