Contra 4

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Contra 4
Contra 4 Coverart.png
North American boxart
Developer(s)WayForward Technologies
Publisher(s)Konami Digital Entertainment
Director(s)Matt Bozon
Producer(s)William Oertel
Christopher Watson
Programmer(s)Robert Koshak
Composer(s)Jake Kaufman
Platform(s)Nintendo DS, mobile phone
ReleaseNintendo DS
  • NA: November 13, 2007
  • JP: March 13, 2008
Mobile phone
  • NA: November 19, 2007
Genre(s)Run and gun
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Contra 4[a][1][2] is a 2D action game for the Nintendo DS and the eleventh original installment in the Contra series. The game was released in North America on November 13, 2007.[3] Contra 4 was produced by Konami Digital Entertainment in America and developed by WayForward Technologies, making it the first Contra game developed by them, as well as the first original Contra game for a portable platform since the 1991 Game Boy game Operation C. Contra 4 was designed to be a direct sequel to the Contra games for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES (Contra, Super C, and Contra III: The Alien Wars), with a gameplay model similar to those games, and was also in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the original Contra.

A mobile phone port was released on November 19, 2007.[4]


The plot is set in 2638, two years after the events of Contra III: The Alien Wars and sometime around the events of Contra: Rogue Corps. With the Red Falcon alien threat defeated and the Alien Wars over, the Earth is peaceful once again. However, a similar alien entity calling herself Black Viper begins launching similar attacks against the human race, causing mass destruction over the planet. After strange readings are detected at the Galuga archipelago (the setting of the original Contra), the Earth Federation sends their four strongest Contra Force commandos on a final strike mission to destroy Black Viper and her army of aliens, robots, and mutants.

The continuity of Contra 4 is based on the Japanese canon that was adapted into the English localization of the series with the release of Contra: Shattered Soldier. However, the game's producers took a number of liberties with the established canon by integrating elements of the American localizations of the older games, thus fusing the two versions together. The alien Black Viper was originally mentioned only in the North American manual of Operation C, whereas the original plot of that game (released as simply "Contra" in Japan) 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" - two new characters created specifically for Contra 4, against the Black Viper. In actuality, "Mad Dog" and "Scorpion" were the names used for Bill and Lance for the North American NES games. Additionally, Operation C was originally a solo mission of Lance Bean, aka Scorpion (as the game was one-player only).


The cast of Contra 4. From left to right: Mad Dog, Bill Rizer, Lance Bean, and Scorpion

Contra 4 is based on the same 2D gameplay system featured in the series through Contra III: The Alien Wars, ignoring many of the game mechanics introduced in later games such as the fixed weapon configurations in Contra: Shattered Soldier and Neo Contra, returning to the old method of picking up power-up icons to obtain new weapons. The play controls are similar to Contra III: The Alien Wars, including the ability to hold two weapons in the player's inventory. The action spans both screens of the Nintendo DS system and a grappling hook can be used by the player's character to latch onto railings, allowing the player's character to move from one screen to the other. Similarly to the arcade version of Super Contra, the player can pick up the same power-up twice, giving them an improved version of the same weapon. The player can also discard a power-up, allowing them to try out a new weapon without losing a previous one.

In addition to the standard side view stages, there are also tunnel stages similar to the two "3D view" stages from the original Contra, in which the perspective shifts behind the character's back. The action in these stages is displayed solely on the upper screen, while the bottom screen is used to display the stage's map and the locations of power-ups. Other than using both screens, Contra 4 makes no usage of the DS' special features such as the touchscreen (besides navigating the main menu), microphone, or multiplayer modes.

Arcade Mode[edit]

Arcade Mode is the main portion of the game, which is composed of six standard stages and three tunnel stages, for a total of nine stages. The stages pay frequent homage to Contra, Super Contra (Super C on the NES), Operation C and Contra III: The Alien Wars. Three difficulty settings are available: Easy, Normal, and Hard. Easy is intended to be accessible to novices by providing the player with plenty of lives and credits, as well as making all power-ups upgraded by default, but does not give the player access to the final two stages nor the ending. Normal is a moderate setting described to be "as difficult as the original Contra", whereas Hard features faster-moving enemies and enemy fire, with fewer lives. Hard mode also features a different ending from Normal.

Challenge Mode[edit]

After completing the main game (Arcade Mode) once on any difficulty setting, a Challenge Mode will be made available in the main menu. This game mode is composed of forty different challenges in which the player must complete various tasks within the side-scrolling stages of Arcade Mode.


The music and sound effects were handled by famed video game music remixer Jake Kaufman, who also composed for Shantae and founded the game music remix site VGMix. The soundtrack consists of a few arrangements of music from previous Contra games as well as new material. When Arcade Mode is played on the Hard setting, an arranged version of the Jungle theme from the original Contra is played instead of the standard stage music. The standard Jungle theme is actually an enhanced version of a "Contra style" chiptune song previously posted on Kaufman's website, called "Vile Red Falcon."[5][6]

A soundtrack CD was announced by Konami to be bundled in the first print of the Japanese release of Contra: Dual Spirits, as a gift for preorders through the KonamiStyle shop. This deal was only available for Japanese residents. In addition to the music found in the game, a 4-minute live performance of the "Harbor" song is included as a bonus track. The song is performed by The Smash Bros, Jake Kaufman's video game tribute band.


Contra 4 received positive reviews from critics, scoring an 83 out of 100 on Metacritic.[7] Contra 4 has been hailed as a rebirth of the Contra franchise, returning the gameplay to the classic roots of the series. It has garnered multiple awards including IGN's "Best Action Game" and "Best Revival" of 2007,[13][14] and GameSpy's 7th best DS game of 2007.[15] GamesRadar+ named Contra 4 the 22nd best DS game of all time out of a list of 25.[16]


  1. ^ Known in Japan as Contra Dual Spirits (Japanese: 魂斗羅 Dual Spirits)


  2. ^ Konami Japanese Contra 4 page)
  3. ^ "Hell Yes: Contra 4 Dated And Box Arted". Archived from the original on 2007-12-29. Retrieved 2007-10-04.
  4. ^ Buchanan, Levi (November 19, 2007). "Contra 4 Mobile Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved September 28, 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Nintendo Power (218). August 2007. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Vile Red Falcon (Contra) by Virt
  7. ^ a b "Contra 4 for DS Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2013-01-31. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Dyson (2007-11-19). "Destructoid review: Contra 4". Destructoid. Retrieved 2016-06-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Navarro, Alex (2007-12-04). "Contra 4 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 2016-06-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Pavlacka, Adam (2007-11-20). "Contra 4 review". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2016-06-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Harris, Craig (2007-11-13). "Contra 4 Review". IGN. Retrieved 2016-06-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Trammell, David (2007-11-19). "Contra 4 Review". Nintendo World Report. Retrieved 2016-06-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ DS - Best Action Game of 2007 - IGN
  14. ^ DS - Best Revival of 2007 - IGN
  15. ^ "GameSpy's Game of the Year 2007". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2012-12-28. Retrieved 2018-09-21. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ GamesRadar Staff (September 15, 2012). "Best DS Games". GamesRadar. Retrieved January 31, 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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