Contra 4 brings the Contra series back to its arcade roots with a long vertical screen and throws in a grappling hook with good measure. The E3 demo pushed players in a jungle level where alien troops run towards you, just like the arcade game. You run over a bridge that explodes and saucers fly overhead to drop power-ups. In Contra 4 you can carry two kinds of power-ups and switch between them. This makes your character more versatile since you can use the spread shot to take out basic troops and switch to the powerful flamethrower when you need to shoot a turret.
The biggest addition in Contra 4 is the grappling hook. When you press X you can shoot it upwards and climb straight up. Since action takes place on both screens the grappling hook is a necessary mechanic to quickly carry players from the bottom screen to the top. In the demo level there was a high cliff and the only way to get on top was to use the grappling hook. After a short play in Contra 4’s jungle it is clear that Way Forward Studios has done a great job preserving the feel of Contra with tight controls. The only thing I wanted to try, but couldn’t was local wireless play.
Outside of the jungle level, Konami plans to have a total of nine stages. In one level you drive a jet ski when the water rises to the top DS screen and in other you are in a ruined city. Some of the levels will have tunnels like the original arcade game too.
Contra 4 is old-school contra and you lose one life if one of the red suited aliens tackles you. This makes Contra 4 “harder” than other games because you die more, but if you want to lessen the challenge there is an easy mode. Konami is also going to add in the Konami code if you want to cheat your way through the game. They are still deciding what effect the code is going to have. It might be 30 lives, it might be something else.