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Contra Encyclopedia

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Contra Encyclopedia home page

Select a section:

•Release Information •Overview •Demos •Gameplay Specifics •Full Plot •Soundtrack •Other Versions •Reprints •Miscellaneous

RELEASE INFORMATION

Native Platform: Nintendo DS

Media/Formats: Game Card

Developer: Wayforward Technologies

Publisher: NTSC-J: Konami

NTSC-U: Konami

PAL: Unreleased

Release: NTSC-J: March 13, 2008

NTSC-U: November 13, 2007

PAL: Unreleased Top of page

OVERVIEW

Contra 4 was developed and released to commemorate the series’ 20 year anniversary. Despite being released several games after Contra III, the plot events take place shortly afterward it. Developed by Wayforward, there was naturally some initial reservations about a Contra title being developed by an external studio after the mess of the PlayStation titles. Contra 4 attempts to bring back the classic Contra gameplay seen before the PS1 titles.

Those who play it will know that it is almost entirely a tribute to Contra. Featuring emphasis on run-n-gun style gameplay similar to the first few Contra games, it also mixes visual anecdotes from the earlier titles. Mad Dog and Scorpion are considered separate characters from Bill and Lance, for example (see Trivia).

The core gameplay and visuals use Contra III as a base, but also incorporate many elements from entries preceding it. For the first time since the NES titles, the default gun is not a machine gun (there is a machine gun powerup) and most of the powerup weapons aren’t truly automatic, either. Similar to the arcade version of Super Contra, each powerup weapon can be upgraded to a second level by acquiring the powerup a second time. The original Contra’s base stages make a return. As with Contra III, many stages feature 1 or more checkpoints at which the player resumes when continuing from a Game Over.

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New to the series, to take advantage of the dual screens, is a grappling hook. This tool allows players to switch between screens to a different part of the battlefield to avoid dangers, for example. Indeed, the play field is vertically oriented, akin to the arcade Contra games. Another new feature is the ability to discard the currently held weapon powerup, which can be picked up again. This feature is exclusive to the Normal and Hard difficulty settings, as Easy mode has only upgraded gun powerups.

Contra 4 is appreciably long, with replay value from the 9 level campaign (arcade mode), 40 challenges to play and a wide variety of bonus content to unlock. Bonus content includes playable characters, comics and, most notably, emulated versions of NES Contra and Super Contra. The soundtrack is also one of Contra 4’s more notable elements, featuring remixes of several past Contra tunes and new instrumental pieces that suit the series really well.

Overall, Contra 4 has received praise for making a return to old-school Contra gameplay, its great presentation and a great replay value. The visual style features vibrant colors akin to the NES version of Contra, while presenting a strong level of detail throughout the various settings that include the wilderness, tech bases and alien lairs. Scattered throughout the stages are numerous homages to previous Contra games, such as enemies, bosses and stage elements. The diverse arsenal provides replay value and variety to approaching sections of levels.

It is, however, not without its critics. The biggest complaint stems from the space between the 2 screens of the handheld system. Many players feel that it obscures the view and results in a lot of cheap deaths. As a result, players consider this game to be notoriously difficult. On the contrary, this is really only problematic in 1 out of the 9 levels (the waterfall section of stage 2, Laboratory).

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Getting killed by cheap shots due to the space between the screens is on the player’s end. One of the goals with Contra 4 is to be able to watch the action on both screens. Following any one of many simple strategies alleviates the issue of receiving “cheap shots”. Moreover, the action in 3 of the 9 levels is confined to the upper screen.

Another inconvenience lies in the limited multiplayer system. It only allows up to 2 players, despite 4 player support during Contra 4’s development (see Trivia). In addition, both players must have a copy of the game.

Other complaints range from the unnecessary and cheesy voice acting to the game being too much of a tribute and too little in terms of new content; the plot relies almost entirely on homage. Regardless, Contra 4 overall remains one of the stronger entries in the Contra series.

Limited pre-order copies of Contra: Dual Spirits were bundled with an official Soundtrack CD of the game in Japan.

Covers:

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Top of page

DEMOS

Nintendo DS Download Station Vol. 7 Demo: Before its release, players were given a chance to try a demo of Contra 4 through the DS Download Station service (Download Station Volume 7).

It is a single player demo that includes only the first level (Jungle). Some sound effects have not yet been implemented and there is no music. It plays on the Normal difficulty setting, but provides the player 4 lives, instead of 5. The falcon icons representing the player’s current guns remain blank at all times (denoting the default Normal Gun), even after acquiring powerups.

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The demo ends as the wall bunker rises (after destroying the first phase), with the game cutting away to a “Coming Soon” message and finally resetting. Losing all lives also resets the demo. Furthermore, extra lives cannot be gained.

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Note: This version may be considered both a public sample (since it was demoed in stores for the public to try) and a prototype (the demo cartridges entered public circulation in a manner similar to how prototypes generally do). Top of page

GAMEPLAY SPECIFICS

Stages:

Stage 1: Jungle Stage 2: Laboratory Stage 3: Base Stage 4: Harbor Stage 5: Ocean Stage 6: Factory Stage 7: City Stage 8: Alien Hive Stage 9: Harvest Yard

Arsenal

Opposition

Cheats & Tips Top of page

FULL PLOT

NTSC-J: The Japanese localization, Contra: Dual Spirits, follows the North American story almost completely. The only difference is that Mad Dog and Scorpion aren’t cited as the heroes from the events of Operation C.

Characters

Bill Rizer – protagonist; playable

Lance Bean – protagonist; playable

Mad Dog – protagonist; playable

Scorpion – protagonist; playable

Sheena Etranzi – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Lucia – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Spirits Bill – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Spirits Lance – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Probotector – protagonist; playable; robot (must be unlocked)

Black Viper – antagonist; lead alien entity

NTSC-U: In 2638, 2 years after Red Falcon is defeated for the third time, the alien Black Viper returns, more powerful than before. Its rage manifests in the widespread annihilation of humanity. After detecting signals from the Galuga Archipelago, the Earth Federation sends 4 top-ranking soldiers to investigate and, subsequently, put a stop to Black Viper’s reign of terror. Helping Bill Rizer and Lance Bean are Mad Dog and Scorpion, who are responsible for stopping Black Viper during its previous attack on Earth.

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Battling throughout the islands, the team thwart many attempted attacks, such as disarming a large nuclear warhead aimed at civilization. They soon reach the heart of Neo City, the heart of the infestation. They eventually locate Black Viper and witness how much more powerful it has become. The final battle is fought at the border between Earth and outer space, literally inside Black Viper’s head, with a very familiar outcome. With its defeat, the alien threat is finally eliminated; history gains a footnote describing the only possible outcome of aliens invading planet Earth.

Characters

Bill Rizer – protagonist; playable

Lance Bean – protagonist; playable

Mad Dog – protagonist; playable

Scorpion – protagonist; playable

Sheena Etranzi – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Lucia – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Jimbo – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Sully – protagonist; playable (must be unlocked)

Probotector – protagonist; playable; robot (must be unlocked)

Black Viper – antagonist; lead alien entity Top of page

SOUNDTRACK

•Title •Menus •Gallery •Jungle 1 •Jungle 2 •Wall 1 •Laboratory •Waterfall •Boss 1 •Pursuit •Base •Tunnel Boss •Harbor •Ocean •Factory •Neo City •Alien Hive •Heart Battle •Boss Approaches •Final Battle •Harvest Yard •Black Viper •Viper Returns •Stage Clear •Final Victory •End Credits •Game Over Top of page

OTHER VERSIONS

Summary of Releases

Conversions: •Mobile (J2ME Platform) •Mobile (BREW Platform) •Mobile (DANGER Platform) •Mobile (SPRINT Platform) •Mobile (Windows Mobile Platform)

Ports: •Mobile (RIM Platform) •Mobile (i-appli Platform)

Miscellaneous: •Contra 4: Redux

Compilations: While Contra 4 has not yet been featured in any compilation, it can be considered its own compilation, as it includes emulated versions of Contra and Super Contra for NES (see here).

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Prototypes •June 27 Prototype (Nintendo DS) Top of page

REPRINTS

Konami The Best: Japan-only re-issue of Contra: Dual Spirits, as part of Konami’s budget release line, Konami The Best (similar to Sony’s Greatest Hits label in North America). It is identical to the original release.

Release Date: March 12, 2009 Media/Formats: Game Card Top of page

MISCELLANEOUS

Regional Differences

Developmental Material

Technical Information

Trivia

Promotional Media Top of page

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