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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Awkward Video Game relationships Part 2 (working draft)

Well, the wait is over, time to talk about more awkward video game romances and relationships.  Note: some of them will be from various movies and TV shows too.

****Spoiler alert******
This article assumes you have seen the movies or played the retrospective video games below

Relationship 6 - Amy and Sonic (Sonic Adventure and later Sonic games)
Here is a clip from Amy's story in the Classic Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast)

You know what is an awkward relationship in video games: Sonic and Amy.  Amy Rose actually actually debuts in Sonic CD where Sonic has to rescue her from the clutches of Dr Robotnik (long before he was known as Eggman) and his creation, Mecha Sonic.  However it is not till the Sonic Adventure Era games where she has bigger roles.  In fact, in Sonic Adventure 1, like other allies of Sonic, Amy has her own episode where basically she has to go through levels protecting a bird that has a hidden chaos emerald in its amulet thingy he is carrying while trying to fend off an evil robot that wants to kidnap both Amy and the bird for Dr Eggman (remember he wants to use the chaos emeralds to upgrade the Chaos monster he helped to create).  At the end of her story is a huge boss fight between her and the evil robot.  Anyways, as with Mario and Princess Peach (and similar hero rescues the girl type of scenarios), Amy has a huge crush on Sonic and is not afraid to show it around him.  She even manages to rescue Sonic out of trouble and certain death on more than one occasion, such as causing a robot to turn on Dr Eggman (the gama robot if I remember correctly), breaking Sonic out of prison after being framed by Shadow the hedgehog and even saves him from being killed by Silver the Hedghog (who wrongly thinks that Sonic is the villian behind the rise of Mephilles and the fire breathing monster Iblis that are responsible for a post apocalyptic future in Sonic 2006). She has even been known to help bring Knucles back into his senses when Dr Eggman manages to trick him into thinking that Sonic is the enemy on more than one occasion (happened in one of the episodes of Sonic X for example).  Of course, it is hard to really tell if Sonic likes her or not considering that he often brushes her off and it is possible she might be in for a heartbreak in a future episode.  Of course how their relationship story plays out is yet to be seen.  Of course, if Sonic doesn't work out for her, hey, there is always Shadow and Silver the hedghog too.

Relationship 7 - Anakin Skywalker and Padme / Queen Amidala (Star Wars Episodes 1-3)

Anakin Skywalker & Padme Amidalla
Touching scene of Anakin and Padme from Star Wars episode 2 (Attack of the Clones).  This was probably one of the happiest moments of their relationships, long before the start of the Clone Wars and before all hell breaks loose in Episode 3 (Revenge of the Sith).

Ah, I've been a Star Wars fan ever since I was a kid, starting with the original trillogy and now the prequel trillogy.  As you probably know, long before Han and Leia, there was Anakin and Queen Amidala (aka Padme) and their story plays a huge role throughout the prequel era of Star Wars.  In Episode 1 (Phantom Menace), she was the Queen of Naboo (an earthlike planet) and was around when the Trade Federation, at the goading of Darth Sidious (aka then Senator Palpatine unbeknownst to Padme at the time) and was rescued from certain death at the hands of the trade federation by Jedis Obi Wan Kenobi and Qui Gon Ginn. Long story short, it was on Tatooine when Anakin (who was a slave at the time) first met Padme (though he did not know she was the queen at the time, especially considering that she had a decoy taking the queen roll most of the time).  You know a quote I like: "Are you an angel?" (Young Anakin from Phantom Menace when he meets Padme for the first time).  Anyways, almost immediately he started liking here, despite the age difference (he was probably 8 at the time if I had to guess and she was probably at least 14 when they first met, though feel free to correct me if I am wrong).  Anyways, she cheered him on during the Pod Race, kind of begrugingly too though considering that her ride off the planet was at stake if Anakin lost the race (that would have been something if he lost, wouldn't it?).  She also seemed to support him when he was getting ready to see the Jedi council for the first time (while she and the "queen" attend the fateful session in the senate where the "queen" tries to persuade her listeners to issue sanctions against the the trade federation for their invasion, which in a way helped Palapatine rise to power, who would eventually become the evil emperor).  Anakin and Padme were definitely an unlikely couple too given their obvious differences.  I bet a young slave / farmer boy like Anakin from the desert planet of Tatooine never thought that he would wind up with such a beautiful queen from Naboo (despite her young age).  Here in the united states, we do not have kings and queens, but we do have a president (which is like having a king or queen in many ways despite the obvious limitations they have as rulers) and if would be like a minimum wage worker like myself living out in the boonies of Washington Stat marrying one of the president's daughter (whether it is Obama's daughters or some future president's daughter), very unlikely relationship.  Or meybe you live in Great Britian, it would be like if you were some farm boy living in Scottland or Ireland (somewhere out in the country) trying to marry Princess Kate (who is slated to become queen someday, btw she is already married too so don't get your hopes up on her).  Very unlikely scenarios, but that is basically what happens with Anakin and Padme.

Of course, things start taking an awkward turn as they seperate for at least 10 years and by the time Anakin sees Padme again, she is a senator that is the target of assasination plots by the seperatists, with the evil viceroy Nute Gunray along with Darth Maul's successor, Count Dooku (aka Darth Tyrannus, who seemed  to have a hand in creating the clone army for the republic which proves to both be a blessing and curse for the republic once the Clone Wars start).  Obviously, Palpatine is now known as Chancelor Palpatine (eventually to become Emperor Palpatine come Episode 3), Qui Gon Gin is dead (killed by Darth Maul), Obi Wann Kenobi is a jedi master and is the mentor of Anakin (much like how Qui Gon was a mentor of Obi Wan and later Yoda being the mentor of Luke Skywalker in the original trillogy).  Anakin of course was a charming, yet reckless Jedi Knight and is the padawan of Obi Wan.  Soon, Anakin and Padme's path crosses once again and he is immediately in love with her (even though apparently the jedi code forbids falling in love and marriage, which Anakin does anyways) and after a failed assasination attempt by Janga Fett and his associate Zam, Anakin becomes Padme's body guard and goes with her to Naboo and later Tatooine.  Of course, predictably, Anakin can no longer control his feelings and soon a romantic relationship forms (much to the reluctance of Padme too given both the fact she was a senator at the time and he was on the jedi council) and before long they are boyfriend and girlfriend. By the way, I can't blame Anakin too.  Have you ever had a crush on someone you know?  I will never forget the crush I had on Kim C, back in the day.  Anyways from a typical guy's perspective, what would you do if something came up where you had to spend extra time time with the girl you like (such as going on a camping trip with her, work the same job as her, living in the dormatory she is in, or maybe you happen to be neighbors)?  Would you be able to hide your feelings or would they come out (especially if you take the time to get to know her)?  Well, Anakin and Padme had that exact scenario and he ends up making Padme his girlfriend and eventually his wife by the end of the movie.
(this section is to be continued due to time restraints).

Relationship 8 - Peter Parker (aka Spiderman) and Mary Jane Watsons (and similar super hero / non superhero relationships)

Relationship 9 - Thor and Jane Foster (Thor Movies / Avengers)

Relationship 10 - Love Triangle in Mass Effect 3

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Top 10 Awkward Video Game Romances Part 1

In Mega Man X4, one of the many boss battles Zero will face is against Iris (who was a female robot that was in "love" with Zero before turning maverick.

You know, it is almost valentines day and I thought I would make a valentines day related post.  You know what that means (at least from a guy's perspective): girls and dates.  I hope you have picked out a gift for your special someone.  Believe it or not, even I had a girlfriend at one time too, back during my senior year of high school.  it was a girl I knew from Christ the King Lutheran church, named Samantha (note: won't give out her last name for privacy reasons).  Long story short, we dated for about a year and then after I went off to college, about a month later, I got one of those "dear john letters", you know those letters sometimes your former girlfriend will  send you a letter that basically says she wants to just "be friends" and found another guy she likes, and that was the end of that relationship (been single ever since).  By the way, Samantha was not my only love interest during my high school career too. For a while there, I was also crushing on a cute blonde girl named Kimberly (aka Kim C, though I won't give out her full last name for privacy reasons, so I will leave it at that), who was the classic hot blonde chick (don't know how else to put it) I knew during my middle school and high school years, though long story short, I will just say that sadly I let my bashfulness get the best of me and wasn't really able to get to know her like I did with Samantha and she ended up moving away (I think she moved to Tacoma last I saw her back in 2002 and btw Facebook didn't exist back then).  Lesson to be learned there kids: if you see a girl you like: don't hesitate to break the ice with her and at least take the time to get to know her.  Wait too long and either someone else will beat you to the punch or life happens (such as graduation or moving away) and you will miss your chance to get to know her.  Luckily I have learned from those mistakes myself.

Anyways, personal stuff aside, in this post I will talk about some interesting and awkward romances and relationships in the video game world (some movies and tv shows too).  Here are the top 10 I have seen:

******Spoiler Alert **********
In the following passages: I will assume you have played through these games or watched these shows and movies.

1. Zero and Iris - Mega Man X4

Here is a video below of the boss fight between Zero and Iris (occurs about midway through the second of the Sigma levels in the game):

If any relationship in the video game world were to resemble that of "Romeo and Juliet", it would probably be Zero and Iris in Mega Man X4.  Mega Man X4 was definitely my favorite of the Mega Man X series (along with MMX, MMX5 and MMX9) and was arguably probably the best of the post SNES Mega Man X games.  It was also the first one where you can actually play as Zero for the entire game (up through MMX3 you mainly played as X, though you do get to use Zero on a limited basis in X3).  Anyways, in Mega Man X4, the game is set several years after the events of Mega Man X3 and while X and Zero thought that the evil Sigma was gone for good, he is back and this time, as a part of his quest for world domination time he basically drives a wedge between the Maverick Hunters and the Repliforce (many of which become maverick during the course of the game presumably due to the Sigma virus which was spreading at the time).  He even manages to turn the Colonel (Iris' brother) against Zero by creating paranoia that the repliforce were turning maverick especially by inciting the Colonel and the General to start a military coup.  Further complicating matters is that Iris (a female cyborg) is madly in love with Zero and is torn between him and the Colonel once the war begins.  Eventually, the Colonel (who is obviously under the influence of the sigma virus and is intent on destroying the human race with a death star type of weapon) does turn maverick and challenges Zero a fight to the death (it is scripted and there is no avoiding it) in a huge boss battle (occurs in the first of the "sigma" stages that appear after you defeat the initial 8 maverick robot masters).  Sadly, Zero is forced to defeat Colonel and that enrages Iris too (talk about woman scorned).  She literally becomes the second boss for Zero to defeat in the following level much to his regret and reluctance.  The story probably could have gone better but she was probably under the influence of the sigma virus too by the time Colonel was gone.  Definitely a short lived relationship for Zero.

2. Mario / Luigi and Princess Peach

Here is a video below from New Super Mario Wii showing Mario defeating Bower for the nth time and rescuing Peach once again:

Princess Peach (aka Princess Toadstool) and Mario / Luigi is definitely another peculiar type of relationship. Both Luigi and Mario like her (though she seems to lean more toward Mario than Luigi as far as I can tell) and are definitely her rescuers and heroes in the games.  Of course, Princes Peach always seems to manage to get kidnapped by Bowser in each Mario bros. and so Mario and Luigi have to go and try to rescue Peach each time too.  It it is almost like Peach likes to get kidnapped by Bowser and have Mario come and rescue her.  How romantic?

3. CJ and Denise in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas

Here is a video of Denise chasing after CJ when he tries to date Millie (note this is from the PC version of the the game and doesn't seem to happen in the Xbox version as far as I can tell).  Pretty funny to watch too
 It is no surprise that in some of the newer grand theft auto games, your character can gain girlfriends.  In GTA San Andreas after the "Burning Desires" mission (happens somewhat early in the game) Carl Johnson (aka CJ) will gain his first girlfriend: Denise (another African american woman who lives in a nearby neighborhood close where CJ lives), how romantic?  She is probably the easiest one to date to compared to the other girls in the game in many ways (for example, she is cool with going to fast food restaurants as opposed to fancier restaurants that other girlfriends like to go to) and sometimes she does a drive by type of date too.  Unfortunately being a typical game like Grand Theft Auto, for Denise, CJ can take up to 6 girlfriends during the course of the game.  Other potential girlfriends for CJ includes: Millie (gained in Las Venturas), Barbara (an ex cop), Katie (she is a nurse lives in San Fierro), Helena (she lives on a farm near the Flint Intersection), and Michelle (also lives in San Fierro and even likes to take CJ for a drive sometimes too).  While you will also automatically gain Millie during the Las Venturas missions (much like how it was with Denise), Michelle, Helena, Katie, and Barbara are all optional girlfriends and normally you have to meet certain requirements and meet them in certain areas before you can date them (see http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps2/914983-grand-theft-auto-san-andreas/faqs/33260 for more info about girlfriends in GTA San Andreas.  In addition, if you manage to find all of the 50 hidden oysters (hidden in the oceans, lakes and rivers in the game) your sex appeal becomes unlimited and CJ can date any of them (or all of them) if he wants regardless on how he looks and all (my guy ended up with 6 girlfriends during the course of the game).  Apparently Denise and other girlfriends can get jealous and chase after you (like in the video above), though while it might be possible to encounter in the PC version, I am not sure how to trigger it in the Xbox version (will have to test it out sometime).  Now that is an awkward moment as not only is CJ dating Denise, he can also have up to 5 more girlfriends too (all at the same time).  Can't you imagine what might happen if you tried that in real life?  They would probably all get jealous and break up with you.  If you were married to any of them, then you would probably get divorced too. What happens in GTA San Andreas stays in GTA San Andreas

4. Nikko and Michelle (and later Katie Mcrerry) in GTA 4

As with Carl in GTA San Andreas, in Grand Theft Auto 4, Nikko (the main protagonist in GTA 4) can date at least 2 different girlfriends during the course of the game (there are probably optional ones too).  The first girlfriend Nikko encounters is Michelle (not the same Michelle from GTA San Andreas of course).  She starts out as a close friend of Nikko and even dates Nikko for a while.  However unbeknownst to Nikko is that she is actually an FBI agent keepin an eye on Nikko and obviously Nikko is a criminal type working for the mafia, drug dealers, and other kingpins that he encounters in Liberty City (btw, doesn't Liberty City feel alot like New York City?  It does to me).  Eventually after several missions, in the aftermath of the the "snow storm" mission, where Nikko is sent to raid a drug warehouse and steal some drugs for his boss at the time (I think it was Elizibetha) , which was definitely a challenging mission to beat in my opinion (especially when NOOSE gets involved), there is a clip scene where Michelle reveals herself basically as an FBI agent and effectively ends her relationship with him.  I guess on the positive note: she doesn't have Nikko arrested for his crimes in the previous missions I guess out of being merciful.  Can't you imagine what that might look like in real life.  Obviously I would never become a criminal type myself (such as joining gangs or the mob), but can't you imagine what it would be like if you were in Nikko's shoes and were dating an undercover cop or FBI agent?  You would probably want to stay on the right side of the law instead considering that she could have you arrested if you do things you shouldn't do like Nikko does.  Ironically it seems like Nikko moved to Liberty City trying to escape the criminal life style and yet he finds himself working for the criminal elements of liberty city.

Of course, Michelle is not the only love interest for Nikko either.  Later in the game, Nikko will encounter several Mcrearys', namely: Frances Mcreary, Katie Mcreary, Packie Mcreary and Derrick Mcreary. Katie becomes Nikko's love interest during the course of the game too.  Anyways, everything seems to be going well for Nikko and Katie at first, however there is a mission toward the end of the game, called "Blood Brothers", which occurs sometime after the "tunnel of death" mission where Derrick makes Nikko assasinate one of his rivals who was headed to prison (which was a pretty insane mission too as you had to bust the guy out of police custody take him to an isolated area and terminate him), where Francis McReary basically pulls a "Cain and Abel" (the story from the bible where one brother kills the other) and makes Nikko shoot either him or Derrick.  While it would probably would have been better for Nikko to stay out of their dispute, the game is scripted so that Nikko kills either Derrick or Frances (which one Nikko kills is up to the player and I went with Derrick myself in the game) and in the following mission (Undertaker), Nikko has to attend Derrick or Francis' funeral (depending on Nikko kills).  Now that had to make things awkward for Nikko and Katie considering that Nikko kills one of ther brothers.  Can't you imagine trying to date someone who killed a family member (even if he/she was forced to do so by his/her brother)?  I know I wouldn't want to date someone like that and I would probably be pressing charges against that person too.  Definitely another awkward relationship in the game in my opinion.

Just for some reference: here is a youtube video of the blood brothers mission (by the way,  the poster also has videos showing the effects of killing either brother, but I won't spoil those for you:

Important disclaimer / warning about GTA 4 and SA: Obviously, the game is rated M being a typical grand theft auto type game and will likely be offensive for some people.  Definitely not recommended for kids or anyone don't like violent video games.  Also, for your own good never try anything you see in GTA at home, ever.  Doing those things can probably land you in jail or worse.  What you see in Grand Theft auto is for entertainment purposes only and should never be done in real life for obvious reasons.

 5. Scott Pilgrim and Ramona in Scott Pilgrim vs the World

Here is a youtube video showing all of the boss fights in Scott Pilgrim (including he 7 evil exes).

 I admit, I have both played the Xbox 360 game, Scott Pilgrim vs the World and later watched the movie version (watched it last year).  It was pretty enteraining in my opinion.  Anyways, talk about "skeletons in the closet". I know lots of people have pasts and sometimes they might even have secrets they don't want everyone else to know about for obvious reasons.  Some girls may have only had one boyfriend in their entire lives, while others might have gone through several.  I am sure the same can be said for us guys too (hey, I only have one ex, just for the record).  Anyways, fellow guys, if you were dating a girl you like, would you beat up her ex boyfriends if she asked you to?  This is exactly the dilema for Scott in Scott Pilgrim vs the world (both in the movie and the video game version).  In the movie version, initially, Scott was initially dating Knives Chau (who was an asian woman Scott liked), but soon into the movie he later meets Ramona, who quickly becomes Scott's latest crush.  Subsequently, he breaks up with Knives and starts dating Ramona.  Unbeknownst to Scott was that she had gone through at least 7 evil ex boyfriends (with their leader being the evil Gideon Graves) and he soon learns the hard way that if he wants to date Ramona, he will have to defeat her 7 evil ex boyfriends (usually in Mortal Kombat style matches to the death where the person defeated literally turns into coins, at least that is how it was both the movie and the game version).  The video game version of the movie plays out much like Castle Crashers and similar arcade style beat em up games, where you can play either as Scott, Kim Pine (a drummer who was also a former girlfriend of Scott at one time and seemed to be indifferent to Scott and Ramon at the time of the movie as far as I can tell), Ramona, or Stills, going through several unique levels with their own unique designs, enemies and obstacles.  At the end of each level is a major boss battle where you fight one of the exes (the final boss is Gideon b the way and is probably the most epic of them). In the end, Scott defeats all of the evil exes (including Gideon though he almost defeats Scott) and gets the girl (Ramona), but it was definitely an experience he will never forget.  By the way, in real life would you do something like that?  How about if your gf had lots of exes and they are all bigger and stronger than you?

Well, that is all for now, and stay tuned for part 2.

In part 2, I will talk about:

1. The Love Triangle in the Mass Effect series
2. Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Spider-man Series
3. Anakin Skywalker and Padme - Star Wars Saga
4. Amy Rose and Sonic in the Sonic the Hedgehog series
5. Thor and Jane Foster (from Thor and the Avengers).
Note: this list is subject to change by the way.

That is all for this post.  Do you have any you want to add?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Contra 4 Review - DS version

For christmas back in 2013, my brother got me Contra 4 for the DS (it is also playable on the 3DS by the way).

Contra 4 Nintendo DS Screenshot
Random picture from Contra 4
Content warning for Contra 4: This game is rated T for teen.  Lots of shooting action, killing aliens, enemies blowing up, etc (think Contra 3 style graphics).   While this game is great for people 13+, this game might be too much for the little ones (especially 10 and under).  Some noteworthy content includes: at least 2 bosses turning into skeletons upon defeat, one boss gets beheaded (the "terminator" boss at the end of the second base level).  Also, in the alien hive level (level 8), the end boss is literally as 3rd person view of a giant red falcon heart (think of the final boss from Contra 1, but it is a large 3D verison of it (and it does "scream" when you shoot at it).  In the harvest yard level, there are dead bodies in the background (reminds me a bit of how it is in Mass Effect 3 towards the end of the game where  you get dead bodies everywhere in the aftermath of the alien invasion).  Not only that, but also most of the level has you literally climbing the insides of a giant alien creature (it even tries to digest your guy with stomach acid in the area just before the final boss.  Also for your own good, do not try anything you see in this game at home, EVER! (kind of like what Jamie and Adam say in Mythbusters).  No going around shooting at random people and things obviously, not unless if you are trying to wind up in jail. 

You know, when I was a kid (back in the classic NES days), I was a fan of both Contra and Super Contra, and like many classic game series, Contra has several newer titles (like Hard Corps Uprising, Shattered Soldier, etc) and now they also have Contra 4 (also known as Contra Duel Spirits) for the game boy DS / 3DS system.  I was pretty excited to get my hands on the title, especially after just playing through Hard Corps uprising before that, and was pleasantly amazed. This game is the official sequel to Contra 3 and is set about 2 years after the events of Contra 3.  After the horrors of Red Falcon's foiled genocidal war against the human race in Contra 3, things were relatively peaceful.  However peace was too good to last and before long a new alien race known as Black Viper (which is pretty similar to Red Falcon in many ways in my opinion) has come to earth and is waging its own war against the human race.  As with previous entries, commandos, Bill Rizner and his buddies are dispatched to defeat the hostile alien forces against all odds, braving 9 intense levels filled with enemies, booby traps and bosses.  In addition, the tunnel stages from Contra 1 (you know the ones where you had to walk in a frontwards direction and shoot enemies and targets to progress) are back and have been greatly improved.  By the way, many levels in the game are pretty similar to the ones in the previous games (with some obvious changes), same goes with some of the bosses in the game too.  Even the wall boss from Contra 1 (if you remember that one) is back too, and is back with a vengeance too (2 part boss battle).  Like the previous entries, one hit kills your player and you do get limited lives and continues.  Ideally you will want to play through the entire game in one sitting for best contra experience, however if something comes up and you have to stop for the day, the game does come with a limited save feature where it will save your progress that you continue later.  However, sadly you do automatically lose a continue (kind of like how it is in candy crush where if you stop during a level you lose a live) each time you do so and once you run out of continues, it is back to the beginning for you (which will likely be frustrating for some, especially if you made it really far in the game).  Also the game does come in 3 difficulty modes: beginner, normal, and hard.  Beginner mode is essentially the "practice" mode and gives you a good of what is to come in the game with some less challenging aspects (for example, in the waterfall section in the Laboratory level, you don't have to deal with the boulders that fall down like you do on normal and hard mode).  Ideally you will want to play the game on Normal or Hard because the game stops abruptly on easy mode (the game ends after level 7 for beginner players whereas you go through the full 9 levels on normal and hard mode).  The game also comes with extra features, such as a challenge mode (where you can complete various challenges for prizes and other goodies) as well as hidden game modes (such as Contra and Super Contra for extended gameplay).

Brief Review

- Feels like Classic Contra with modern twists
- New level designs
- Great background music
- Massive boss battles, including a climatic fight with Black Viper in the end.
- 3 difficulty levels: Beginner, Normal and Hard.  Note: while beginner mode is a good choice for first time players, you won't be able to play through the final 2 levels in the game (alien hive or the harvest yard level) and get to the final boss or the ending.
- If you find the game to be too difficult, there are some cheats/glitches that give you considerably more lives as well as ways to earn extra lives (usually after shooting x number of enemies in the levels).
- Tributes to levels, enemies and bosses from previous contra games, with next generation style overhaul (such as new and improved tunnel levels and bosses).
- Extra game play modes, such as challenges that you can complete and win various prizes as you beat them.
- There are at least 2 hidden games you can play in the game that unlock by completing them: Contra and Super Contra.  Can be nice if you liked those games.
- Nice voice acting too (reminds me of the guy from Duke Nukem in many ways).
- Definitely a must have for contra fans in my opinion.

Cons about Contra 4:
- This game is definitely intense and may be too difficult for some people.  One hit deaths can definitely be punishing and can even come cheaply too and there are levels and areas in the game where you can find yourself dying alot.  Two classic examples are: the laboratory level (especially during the first half of the level) and the latter half of level 4 where you have to climb a huge missile, fight a miniboss, dodge missiles and avoid falling to your death, which can be easier said than done).
- Sense of deja vu  in some levels.  By the way, if you play level 1 on hard mode, you even get a remixed version of the background music from Contra 1 during the jungle level.
- The levels are somewhat long on average and you will definitely need to give yourself at least 2 hours minimum if you want to play through the game (unless if you are an expert at games like Contra).'
- While there are "save" points in the game,  they are limited.  Also you lose a continue each time you stop for the day.

Recurring themes and levels from previous Contra games:
- Return of the "wall" boss from Contra 1 (this time in 2 forms)
- The "tunnel" levels are back (new and improved too).  In fact there are 3 "tunnel" levels to contend with.
- The Waterfall level is back during the second half of the laboratory level (even has a giant alien boss on top of it with some obvious differences).
- It appears there are some content from Operation c such as the submarine miniboss during the Harbor level (note: I haven't played Operation C yet, so I don't know how much similarities there are between Contra 4 and Operation C).
- The Hologram boss is back (from contra 1).  Even plays a remixed version of the boss music from Contra 1
- It appears that some stages have remixed music from earlier games (such as the City level where the music is very similar to that in level 1 on contra 3).
- The mutant dogs are back too (from Contra 3) and you will encounter them on the City level.  Note: while they don't attack you in "beginner mode" they will charge you on "hard" and "normal" modes after passing them.
- One hit deaths are back, same with limited continues.
- The red falcon heart and aliens are back.  This time, the red falcon heart is huge and has a 3D look.  It even "screams" while shooting at it.
Note: I don't remember seeing anything from Super Contra or Contra Hard corps.  Feel free to correct me if I am wrong though.

Overall Grade: B+

General review of Contra 4

Boy, Contra 4 is definitely a fun and yet intense game to play through.  You play through 9 levels, each with increasing difficulty and intensity, each with their own unique enemies, obstacles and even huge boss battles lurking at the end of each of them.  By the way there is voice acting in the game and if you have played through the game (at least as Bill), doesn't the voices remind you a bit of the voice acting from Duke Nukem?  It does for me which does make it pretty entertaining.  Some memorable quotes includes: "locked and loaded", "Take em out!!!"  (usually happens after dying often), and others.  This game even pays tribute to Contras 1-3 in many ways too as any of the levels and bosses do have striking similarities to the ones in the previous game (like the Jungle level at the beginning of the game, which is pretty similar to the one in Contra 1 in many ways and even has the famous wall boss battle at the end, which is actually a 2 part battle this time around). Also as mentioned earlier, the tunnel levels from Contra 1 are back too and have been greatly improved too (you even get a map on the lower screen that shows your progress through those levels too). The first tunnel level even has one of the hologram bosses that you fight in the first game too.  Also, the City level (from level 7) is pretty similar to the one in Contra 3 (the mutant dogs are back too).

The levels are pretty fun to play through and even have at least one major boss fight at the  end of the stage (my favorites are the alien on top of the waterfall section of level 2, the final boss at the end of the Harvest Yard level (final stage of the game), as well as the giant robot you fight at the end of level 4 (the harbor level).  Also like many of the newer titles in the series, the game even has various minibosses too (like the giant submarine that you fight towards the beginning or the Harbor level as well as the giant spider boss you fight in the city level to name a few).

While many people will like the action the game brings, that game may not be for everyone.  One classic example is the difficulty in the game.  Like what other people have posted about Contra 4 (like the the writer on the gamespot review of the game put it), Contra 4 is definitely HARD and may be too much for some people.   Think of it this way, you have Bill and Lance (reminds me a bit of Rambo and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a way), an army of 2 and trying to take out an entire armada of hostile alien forces. Definitely easier said than done given the odds against them   I also agree with most reviewers: most people probably won't beat their game in their first several attempts  Contra 4 is intense too.  Unlike Hard Corps uprising (the previous contra related post I did earlier), one hit deaths are back and you only get so many lives and continues before it is game over and you have to start over.  There are 3 different difficulty levels by the way, with the easiest mode being "beginner", followed by "normal" mode and "hard" mode.  Beginner mode does have its pros and cons too.  While the game is significantly easier on Beginner mode than it is on the other modes, it is not a total "walk in the park" as you only start out with 9 lives and 5 continues, though the difficulty is somewhat less intense compared to the other mode. Some notable changes includes: the absense of the boulders that fall during the waterfall portion of level 2,  the missile section of level 4 being somewhat easier (the rotating handles didn't seem to rotate as often as they do in Normal mode), the hologram boss in level 3 is a bit tougher and uses those rolling things more often.  Also, while the mutant dogs in level 7 aren't a threat in beginner mode, they will charge at you in Normal and Hard modes after you pass them (much like how it was in level 1).  The only downside to beginner mode is that the game ends in level 7 (the city level) and you won't be able to the final 2 levels of the game nor fight the final boss of the game, so eventually you will want to at least to Normal mode if you feel confident and want to access the final 2 levels of the game.  Also the lives you start with does vary by mode too as in Normal mode you start with 5 lives and 4 continues and in hard mode you only start with 3 lives and 3 continues.  Like many contra games, Contra 4 is definitely intense especially with the one hit deaths, and sometimes deaths can come cheaply too.  One classic example of this is during the first half of level 2 where you are in a laboratory and you have aliens crawling down from pipes, aliens crawling down from some walls and ceilings as well as monsters (called meat puppets btw) that basically function much like how it is with suicide bombers in the middle east where when they see you, they blow themselves up and try to take you out with them.  Ideally you will want to go through the level slow with a good weapon in hand (like the lasers and missiles to take them out quickly).  However, if you try to rush or aren't familiar with their patterns you will probably die alot and may have to use up a continue too before all is said than done, and that is only the first half of the level too.  You still have the waterfall section too with its own unique challenges and death traps (like boulders that fall down and crush you if you happen to be in their paths, turrets that try to shoot you, snipers, and other enemies that want to send Bill and his comrads to early retirements).  There is even a huge boss fight at the end of the level too where you fight snipers at the the top and later a huge alien creature too.  There are other levels like that where death can come pretty cheaply too, such as the final section in level 4 where you have to climb a huge missile aimed at a city while fighting enemies, dealing with a mini boss battle about half way through, dodging missiles and dealing with rotating handles that your guy has to grip where if you fall you die. There is even a huge boss fight at the end of the level too, which adds to the difficulty too (btw, if you get game over there too, you have to do the missile section all over again).  Also bear in mind that if you have upgraded weapons, you will lose them when you die (if you are armed with them of course) and you can switch between 2 weapons too.

  This list can go on, but there are definitely alot of ways Bill and hsi comrads can die and you only get so many lives and contiues before it is game over.  Obviously, this game might be "easy" for some while nearly impossible for others (much like how it is in other titles in the series).  On the positive note, there are some ways to simplify the game a bit.  There are sections in the where if you shoot enough enemies, you can earn extra lives and there are plenty of infinite enemy spawn points where if you have the patience, you can arm yourself with a good weapon (like the machine gun, upgraded laser, spread shot, and / or heat seeking missiles) and shoot the endless waves of enemies and gain extra lives over time.  My favorite area for this is towards the beginning of the city level where there is a section where hoards of blue and red enemy robots charge at you or shoot at you (usually in 3s) and there are places where you can simply cling to the wire above or stand on top of a building (make sure that turrets and similar enemies are out of the way before attempting this by the way) and just stand there or hang there and shoot down at enemies as they come by. You can gain almost as many lives as you want that way (though it does take time for your lives to accumulate, so patience is a must here) and there are other places for this too, such as the infinite alien spawn points in the laboratory level, mutant mosquito section in the latter half of the city level (where endless mutant bugs swoop down and try to grab you and take you to your doom if you let them (a good spread shot or heat seeking missiles could probably make quick work out of them).  Alternatively, there are at least 3 cheat codes you can exploit too (I will post them in the spoilers section) if you are struggling (my favorite is the 99 lives cheat which I will talk about .later).  Besides the difficulty you will likely get a sense of deja vu in many levels of the game though they do have their own unique twists and additions and is not nearly as rediculous than how it was in Sonic 4 (at least episode 1) where many of the levels and bosses are almost identical to the ones from Sonics 1 and 2 repectively. Another thing worth mentioning too is while the game does save your progress (where if you beat a level but need to take a break for whatever reason), it is limited.  Here is how it works in my experience: so say that you are playing through the game and get to say level 3 (the base level) and you need to stop for the day (such as going to work, doctor's appointment, interruptions, etc) the game will save your progess and you can resume later.  There are 2 drawbacks though.  1. Each time you resume your game, you will automatically lose a continue (which can make things harder for you).  2.  If you run out of continues you will have to start over from the beginning of the game (and the save file goes away too) which will likely make the game frustrating for some, especially if they were really far in the game like on level 8 or 9 and they have to start over from the beginning..

Overall, this game is awesome in my opinion and definitely doesn't dissapoint and will likely be a hit with contra fans.  Like many of the games in the series, it might not be for everyone (especially given the difficulty), but for those who are patient and good at games like Contra, it is definitely a good game to have all around.

Due to time restraints, I will have to add secrets and extra content on a different post.  I have to admit, free time has been a bit limited for me lately especially in part to the situation with my mother (she broke her ankle back in December) and I've been having to help take care of her needs, and naturally that does mean less free time fro me.  Also I do have 3 part time jobs too (along with several other blogs and websites I do as well).  Will try to add new posts as time allows.