Instruction Manuals 01: Contra 4

I’m sure you all know by now that Contra 4 is an amazing follow-up to The Alien Wars, letting us all forget about some of the more lackluster sequels and get on with the shooting and the jumping and all the fun 2-dimensional junk we love. It’s also really hard, but not to the point of outright frustration. It’s worth digging into the Challenges just to unlock the NES versions of Contra and Super C (which are much better than the arcade originals that infect XBL).

But how does the booklet fare? It’s certainly got a legacy to live up to with its roots in Ye Olde days of gaming. I stated the criteria for manual reviews before, so lets dig in!

Colour: There is none aside from the cover. This may put it a step above Capcom’s old blue-cover booklets, but it’s still unacceptable.

Plot Details: Not only does page 5 catch you up on the series’ lore, but the following turn presents you with the story of the game at hand. Pros: Nice and concise, fun to read. Cons: Very little accompanying art, not enough exclamation points!

Artwork: The art of Contra 4 is pretty great as it is. Just check out their rockin’ official site if you don’t believe me. It hardly shines in the manual, though. Even the character bios are only adorned with tiny illustrations of their manly visages (however, the title above that section is worth noting: Contra Guys: The Dudes Without Shirts).

Enemy Profiles/Accessory Lists: The weapons section is paltry at best and downright shameful at worst. It’s not an entirely empty cupboard, but what’s there is just a list that outlines each gun with a sentence of description. They get points for including an essential enemy section, but lose them right away for having odd, blurry pictures that might as well be Rorschach tests. Also included: images and descriptions of each stage.

Overall it’s a pretty mediocre companion piece to a terrific product.


out of 5 game cassettes

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