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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

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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 afterwards. Developed by Wayforward, 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 (see Trivia).

The core gameplay and visuals use Contra III as a base, but also incorporate many elements from entries preceding Contra III. 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.


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, for example, to avoid dangers. Indeed, the play field is vertical, 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.

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 can range from unlocking characters to comics. The soundtrack is also one of Contra 4’s more notable elements, featuring remixes from several past Contra tunes and new instrumental pieces that suit the series.

Overall, Contra 4 has received praise for making a return to old-school Contra gameplay, 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 an element of strategy.

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). 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 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 is relies almost entirely on homage. Regardless, Contra 4 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.






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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



Cheats, Assistance

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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.


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

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.

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.


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

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•Jungle 1
•Jungle 2
•Wall 1
•Boss 1
•Tunnel Boss
•Neo City
•Alien Hive
•Heart Battle
•Boss Approaches
•Final Battle
•Harvest Yard
•Black Viper
•Viper Returns
•Stage Clear
•Final Victory
•End Credits
•Game Over

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Mobile (J2ME Platform) (1)
Mobile (BREW Platform)
Mobile (DANGER Platform)
Mobile (SPRINT Platform)
Mobile (Windows Mobile Platform) (1)

Mobile (RIM Platform) (1)
Mobile (i-appli Platform)

Nintendo DS
Mobile (J2ME Platform) (2)
Mobile (RIM Platform) (2)
Mobile (Windows Mobile Platform) (2)


Public Samples
Nintendo DS Download Station Vol. 7 Demo (Nintendo DS)

Contra 4 June 27 Prototype (Nintendo DS)

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There are currently no known variants of Contra 4.

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Regional Differences

Developmental Material

Technical Information


Promotional Media

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Contra Encyclopedia home page


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