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Released by Konami in 2007, Contra 4 for the Nintendo DS was a return to form for the Contra series. After a stretch of of polygonal games with 3-D elements, the series was taken back to its 2-D platforming roots of the 80s and 90s. As for the plot, well that was a formula that never really changed. You're a strapping tough guy with a wide variety of weapons and there's hordes of aliens that need killing. It kind of writes itself from there.

Contra4   Contra4

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Single-segment with 2 players, Hard Difficulty: 0:24:13 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen, Zack 'Zallard1' Allard

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Author's comments:

Zallard1's comments
So here are my comments/thoughts on the Contra 4 run and how it went down...

Stage 1 went pretty well. We split up so Mr K gets a crush while I keep the screen scrolling. Other than that, we pretty much just obliterate anything in our path.

Stage 2 is where I kill myself after I destroy a path for K with my machine gun in the lab. I make my best effort to destroy that turret while dying, which entertains me as much as when DK28 kills that rock in the Contra low% co-op. I return later to collect laser and the double crush that K had. We then crushed the snipers/boss, and split the crush between us for the base stage.

Stage 3 gets crushed, literally. One crush is already OP for the base stages, but two just makes it look sad. I give K back his crush at the end. so we each have a powered up weapon again (since I have 2 lasers now).

Stage 4 has us split up so K grabs his 1st laser, then we join up while I grab my 1st crush. There are a few really powerful spawns on the path to the missile, but that's to be expected. The robots that reform to shoot spread are extra obnoxious. Rest of the level is pretty smooth though.

Stage 5 is basically where we power up our weapons all the way to where we both have power crush and power laser. Aside from that, it's an autoscroller with not much else to say.

Stage 6 also gets crushed, being a base stage. The stage is also something of a teaser for what's to come in stage 7, as it's where we begin using double crush and double laser.

Stage 7 gets massacred. Just slapped straight across the face with double crush and double laser. The tank arrives to explode. The spider gets double crushed before you even see his other attack. The one sniper everyone hates gets double crushed so hard he can't even shoot. Finally, the stage's boss gets double lasered so hard that it dies before we even get a chance to ride on a bike. This stage has never been more unsuccessful at killing Contra protagonists than in this run, and I feel a little bad for participating in its demise... maybe.

Stage 8 gets crushed for a little, then K doesn't quite clear the enormous hitbox of the ceiling alien, so I split my powered crush with him (thanks to Heidman for the call on that) and we returned to old habits of double crushing the base stage. K collects powered up Fire, because we all know he's the one qualified for such a weapon.

Stage 9 is brutal. Heartless, nonstop spawns that want nothing but your death with music that fits that theme pretty well. Mr K and I end up trying for a strat where I collect double machine gun, but I accidentally shoot a weapon pod that I thought was offscreen, and accidentally collected a surprise crush that overwrote my machine gun. While panicking, I died once on the way up the ascent to the crushers, and once at the top of the elevator that takes you to the final boss. By some miracle, we ended up getting a pattern that lets powered crush do max damage to the boss (usually it does minimal). That luck basically bailed out the run to where we got an extremely fast 2 cycle.

Just want to say thanks to Mr K for the constant support for helping me learn the game, getting the run to happen, and or course putting together the Contra Conference! It was alot of fun! Thanks go out to Heid, DK, and Blat too of course!

Mr. K's comments
Note on the run - Contra 4 co-op relies on wireless communications between two Nintendo DS models. Due to some weaknesses in the wireless transmissions with the Nintendo DS, when there are lots of things happening on the screen, the game will lag. One DS is the host and another DS joins. Another side effect of the weakness in wireless transmissions is that there will always be a slight delay from what the DS that joins sees to what is happening on the host side. The joined DS may barely reach a platform with a jump and then suddenly be pushed off because the hosting DS had the platform in a different space.

Special thanks to:
Zallard1 - for being an amazing co-op partner and an all around great speedrunner and friend
Sean Velasco - For making the game and also pointing out that wireless signals create interference that causes the game to lag. Without that tip we would not have been able to complete this run.
Loopy - The capture device is what made this run possible. We can't thank you enough!
cpadolf - That TAS was very helpful.
Hurblat, Heidman, DK28 - the Contra Conference Crew - thanks to all of you. It was a fantastic week!!!

The weapons route of this run is really complicated and I'll focus on this for the rest of it. The weapons in this game are decently balanced. They have strengths and weaknesses in different places. On top of that you can share weapons.

Machine gun - consistent damage and the way it stacks is very helpful in stage 2
Fire - Fire is useless in base stages, but does excellent damage to enemies with smaller hitboxes and the final boss
Crush - Absolutely wrecks base stages, also does much higher than expected damage for enemies with large hitboxes that move and splash damage
Laser - Its damage is based on the size of the enemy hitboxes on side scrolling stages and it does strange amounts of damage for base stages, but it is quite a lot)
Spread - Does great damage while point blank making it useful for stage 1, but nowhere else

Stage 1 - the goal here is for me to get upgraded crush that I'll eventually split in stage 2. I need upgraded fire. Zallard gets spread for the boss and machine gun will be very useful in stage 2
Stage 2 - Due to wireless transmission issues, Zallard can't make the climb with me. I pick up a crush upgrade and flame upgrade. Zallard tags back in at the bridge. I give both of my crushes to him and then start using my fire. Zallard picks up one laser. We need to do this so we will both have weapons to use on the snipers and boss. Once the boss is defeated Zallard gives me a crush.
Stage 3 - Having split the crush in two, each of us now has crush and this causes the base stages to get wrecked. Our next goal is that we both want upgraded crush and laser. Zallard gets the laser here.
Stage 4 - I swap out fire for laser here. Submarine gets wrecked. That dodge...
Stage 5 - I got a little greedy picking up laser, but it's fine. Our weapons are now set up until stage 8
Stage 6 - We alternate between crush and laser depending on the hitbox of certain enemies
Stage 7- City is normally a challenging stage, but we can cheat a few things. The tank doesn't get to do anything and the sniper in the monkey bars just gets wrecked.
Stage 8 - Double laser owns. I die in the cycle based room, but Zallard splits up a crush which gets us mostly back on track. Not quite as good for not having double laser on the boss, but still fantastic.
Stage 9 - This is just tough. So basically we both want double fire to be able to one cycle the final boss. It doesn't work out that way, but we lucked out.

Single-segment with Hard Difficulty: 0:24:37 by Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen

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Author's comments:

Contra 4 actually has some personal significance to me because it was the first game I was really thinking of speedrunning. I produced some videos for it back just a year after its release. After some careful route planning I started making attempts. The quality of the recording was terrible and the position for recording was too difficult. The DS Lite D-pad proved to be inadequate for serious Contra play and the project was shelved. Then the DS Capture Device came out and once again I started running this.

Special Thanks to:
Loopy - This run would've never been possible without your capture device. Before your run came along, I was seriously tying a webcam to a table leg and playing the game on my stomach. I gave up on running this game because of capture problems and you really turned it around. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!
Neal Tew - I'd like to join WayForward in thanking Neal for his work on the original PocketNES software core. I'd also like to thank him for his other interests which may have also made this speedrun possible
Comegetsome7 - I definitely need to mention you. Thank you for the work you put into Contra 4. I was really glad to see that you were interested in running this game. I'm sorry things didn't pan out. I'm guessing it was probably capture related. Still I'm really glad you made a thread for this in planning and every bit of support for this game helped and I wish you luck if you pick this up again or anything else you end up working on
Bender Bending Rodriguez - I'm 40% Contra
Hurblat- Thank you for coming to the United States to teach us how to play Contra. My heart and soul will always be Contra III, but Contra 4 deserved a run. Thanks for all the support and I'm pretty hype for Contra III co-op
Mikwuyma - Well you messaged me about the TAS in 2009. You teased me about getting the run done in 2011. Here we are in 2012. Seriously though, you gave me a lot of encouragement to do this run in 2009. I was a lot newer to SDA then and I definitely needed the support. There was almost no talk of anyone actually doing a Contra 4 run and while I abandoned the project for capture reasons I picked it right back up when loopy's capture device came down from the heavens
Greenalink - for some help with the encoding and being a general advocate of DS Speedrunning
PJ - For running Super Ghouls and Ghosts with the torch
Zallard - For being such a great support of Contra and for providing speedrunning motivation. Just listening to him talk about SPO makes me want to optimize stuff I play
Jman - For knowing this game and doing commentary at AGDQ. Your span of game knowledge is really impressive.
Pasky - For general reverse engineering awesomeness and for sticking around to watch Contra 4 even though I'm pretty sure you haven't played it
Ktwo - For support and conversation as well as general NES awesomeness
Omnigamer- For obscure games done quick and for showing such strong support for the Contra series. Definitely great to see you in the stream
Heidman - I think our conversations about Contra 4 probably motivated me to man up and do a run. I figured with all the blood sweat and tears you put into running Contra and Super C, the least I could do was deal with some of the annoyance of running a DS game. Keeping the Contra series alive has been a blast.
Birdmonger - It was great having you in the stream and hopefully you saw my updated video for the jump glitch
Bmn - Thanks for everything and for w00ty. One day I'll be worthy of the name K Hawk. This run came so close to satisfaction. Sorry no homeless. Blue Orbs for life!
Emtptyeye - For the Contra drawing and for stream presence
People who watched my reset fest for Contra 4 on stream - I'm almost positive most of you haven't played Contra 4 but you stuck around and I appreciate the support. I know I didn't make it past stage 2 very often, but thanks for sticking it out with me. Hopefully it wasn't too bad of a watch. I do want to mention awesome people like Panzeh, Ozzy, themaplight, zaphrasz, Narasnul, Rane, krimmydoodle, Something915, Exo, Bablo, mike89. If I didn't mention your name it's because I need to get to know you better, but I definitely appreciate the support.
Nate - For being the most awesome and helpful guy around. Thank you for everything you do for SDA on the tech side of things, we can't thank you enough
DK28 - The thrilla Gorilla and big time supporter of all things Contra, thanks for your support during some of my darker times of running this game
Brother - My brother is the greatest


Peashooter - Unlike Contra III you have to mash peashooter in this game. It shoots pretty fast. While mashing makes this gun shoot pretty fast, you can't fire faster than the machine gun speed no matter how fast you mash.

Machine Gun
Does 1 damage for each bullet and 4 damage per "interval" when upgraded. I say interval, the weapons have a fixed fire rate and an interval is the amount of time between shots each weapon has.

Spread Gun
Does 1 damage per spread shot that hits, upgraded spread shot does 5 damage but requires point blank range for all shots to hit
Base Stage - 1 per shot

Laser Gun
Does 1-8 damage per shot when fully upgraded. The amount of damage dealt depends on the size of the enemies hitbox Base Stage - It does a fixed 4 damage per shot

Does straight 2 damage. Does up an initial ball and splits off in 4 directions. If a shot is considered on target it does 5 damage

Does 1-5 damage per shot depending on how the enemy
Base Stages - It destroys everything

Homeless Shot
Does 1 damage for each shot that hits. Unfortunately it's not used in the run.

Konami Code - This can be used to upgrade your weapons. I don't use it in the run

Climbing trick - By jumping off and back onto a vine quickly you can climb faster than you normally could. This is abused to climb at extreme speeds in the TAS. This is too hard to do at extreme speeds on a DS D-pad, but you can certainly climb faster doing it slower than the TAS does it. It's used in stage

Grapple trick - When you grapple, you stay in the air while the hook shoots up and you don't lose height. Staying in the air can be helpful in some sticky situations and this is used in stage 7 once in the run.

Q: Why is your run so much slower than the TAS
A: Not surprisingly, there are several reasons for this. The two big things are death abuse and the climbing glitch. The TAS jumps into pits and faces in the opposite direction to die as far to the right as possible (even if you fall into a pit your character bounces). This manipulates the respawn logic to get pushed far forward. It's used in several stages, of greatest consequence in the City and Harvest Yard. I'm not sure how feasible this is in real time, particularly with the DS D-pad. I also really wanted this run to be deathless. The other major thing is the climbing glitch. While I can definitely save time with it, I can't possibly compare to how the TAS does it. This saves a lot of time and also skips you having to wait in some places in the waterfall section of stage 2. Of minor note would be the frame perfect weapon switching to deal more damage using crush and another weapon in the base stages, but those are the biggest things.

Q: Are you done running this game
A: No, not until I get the optimal boss pattern and get everything else working. This was a pretty clean run all in all and while the bad luck at the final boss breaks my heart I don't feel too bad about submitting this run. I am going to be putting this game down for a bit because I need to practice some of the other Contra games in preparation for AGDQ. I'm looking at you Co-op Contra, Super C, and Contra III!

Q: Why don't you use spread
A: Spread sucks! At least for speedrunning. It's useless in the base stages and requires you to be point blank in the side scrolling stages.

Q: Why don't you use machine gun
A: Machine gun is a fantastic all around weapon, but it's not particularly broken in any spot of the game in the same way that crush and laser are. Did you see what laser does to the stage 7 tank and the heart boss? Do you see the crush devastation on base stages?

Q: What is up with those base style stages. Crush just destroys it
A: I don't know why they made crush work the way it does in base stages. Crush kind of got the short end of the stick in side scrolling stages (though there are notable exceptions) because its weapon upgrade improves its range, but not its power. It's ridiculous though.

Q: What about challenge mode
A: I've done a speedrun of a fair chunk of the challenges. I'll know out more of them as time permits. The difficulty on speedrunning them is actually really lopsided.

Stage Strategies

Stage 1
This stage is pretty straightforward with the exception of the second bridge. There is a really tight jump that involves jumping just as the bridge collapses so that I can land on the cliff on the bottom screen and immediately jump to avoid sniper fire. This is necessary to collect a spread upgrade without stopping. The Spread upgrade is used for the quick boss kill and is quickly discarded. If you didn't know, you can hitch a ride on the machine that slides over the rail near the end of the stage. It takes 50 shots to stop from below but only 1 shot to stop if you're shooting from the top.

Stage 2
The meat puppets are fixed here, but the other spawns are random. The time between when you approach a meat puppet and when it explodes is random so I have to make a few pauses here.

The jumps here are a bit tough and they've ended more than their share of runs. A lot of them are pretty tight. Thank you game for letting me practice some of them on challenge mode. I get upgraded flame because it gives me a quick kill on the boss and the snipers. The snipers are much easier with upgraded fire

Stage 3
Crush crushes. Enough said. Oh and good RNG on the boss.

Stage 4
I modified my strategy for the submarine fight because the strategy the TAS it's a bit tough to do in real time. I don't lose much time versus the TAS because of it. The robot spawns are completely random and I got through them pretty fast. I was able to collect the laser without losing any time and this becomes an important weapon for most of the rest of the run. The jumping on the path up to the missile was pretty clean. I did get a quick kill on the boss.

Stage 5
Auto scroller. I got the quick kill on the eels which is really the only critical thing to do in this stage. Crush and laser are just too good. If you're wondering about the boss, you can only do one damage per cycle.

Stage 6
Crush demolishes this stage. Laser demolishes the boss. Win win.

Stage 7
Laser destroys the tank. There are a few pauses here for the meat puppets but most everything else is reasonably optimized. I use the grappling hook trick to catch some extra air on the last set of monkey bars to avoid getting killed by the turret soldier. Laser just demolishes this boss.

Stage 8
The laser does pretty comparable damage to crush in base stages although the range is lacking. I pick up the flame because I need to have an upgraded flame for stage 9 for a few spots. There's a 50/50 chance of getting it to spawn in the last rom but I don't take my chances and leave crush early because I love fire too much. I lose a little time because I had to duck in one room where crush otherwise would've saved me time. The heart boss has 300 health. Laser cuts through it in about 6 seconds.

Stage 9
The Black Viper first fight is a joke with laser. The climb is tough execution wise because the climbing trick and the
character is in the middle of the screen and invisible during most of it. The spawns in the danger zone were out to kill me, but I managed to survive. What breaks my heart about this run is I didn't get the final boss kill in two cycles because of bad luck. I'll probably redo the run at some point to make up for the lost time. Basically you need fire to be upgraded and it needs to hit for 5 damage. There's a certain attack pattern and angle which prevents fire from hitting properly for full damage and that's what I got in the run...sigh...

Besides the bad luck in the boss fight execution mistakes weren't too frequent and so I'll keep this run for now. RNG was good to me on the base stage boss, stage 4 stage and boss, the eels in stage 5, and stage 7 had pretty good RNG so it can work for now.

Here are all the notable flaws/mistakes in the run:
Stage 1
Lost a few frames by not grappling to the ceiling at the very edge

Stage 2
Slightly suboptimal spawn luck and slight stutter in the laboratory section.
Had to pause to kill a spawn on the climb
Finger slipped on D-pad during boss fight

Stage 3
No comments

Stage 4
Slight stutter due to bad spawn on path to missile

Stage 5
No comments

Stage 6
No comments

Stage 7
It's possible in theory to not wait for meat puppet explosions to leave the screen and proceed to grapple before the mechanical spider. The strategy is luck dependent and extremely risky. Little flub on climbing glitch.

Stage 8
Crouched and waited for turret fire to pass in second room before boss

Stage 9
Initial climb into black viper can be done slightly faster so that you don't have to wait to kill the spawns
Bad spawn patterns in the danger zone. That's when you can choose the upper lower path and you pick the lower path because it's faster and manlier. Loss ten seconds on boss fight due to bad boss pattern. This is enough to warrant redoing the run at some point.

With Challenge Mode, Hard Difficulty: 0:33:54

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Level Time Date Player(s)
Bad Guy Blitz 1 0:00:19 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Pacifism 1 0:00:30 2013-07-04 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Mutt Hunt 1 0:00:56 2013-05-17 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Pacifism 2 0:00:23 2013-06-07 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Bad Guy Blitz 2 0:00:47 2012-04-13 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Gunplay 1 0:01:00 2011-12-30 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Bad Guy Blitz 3 0:00:33 2013-05-17 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Rematch 1 0:00:27 2013-01-03 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Speed Run 1 0:01:29 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Bad Guy Blitz 4 0:00:54 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Pacifism 3 0:00:48 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Speed Run 2 0:00:27 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Mutt Hunt 2 0:00;46 2013-06-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Bad Guy Blitz 5 0:00:43 2013-05-17 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Gunplay 2 0:00:55 2013-05-17 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Rematch 2 0:01:49 2013-06-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Accuracy 1 0:00:27 2013-06-11 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Friendly Fire 1 0:00:29 2012-01-22 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Speed Run 3 0:00:49 2013-06-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Mutt Hunt 3 0:00:27 2011-12-31 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Accuracy 2 0:00:54 2013-07-04 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Gunplay 3 0:01:27 2013-06-11 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Speed Run 4 0:00:59 2013-06-04 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Rematch 3 0:00:42 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Accuracy 3 0:00:50 2013-07-04 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Friendly Fire 2 0:01:18 2011-12-31 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Mutt Hunt 4 0:01:01 2011-12-30 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Bad Guy Blitz 6 0:00:27 2013-06-11 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Friendly Fire 3 0:01:27 2012-01-22 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Gunplay 4 0:00:42 2013-06-11 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Mutt Hunt 5 0:02:13 2012-01-14 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Rematch 4 0:00:26 2013-06-12 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Low Ammo 1 0:00:36 2013-06-07 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Friendly Fire 4 0:00:48 2011-12-31 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Low Ammo 2 0:01:19 2011-12-31 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Speed Run 5 0:00:26 2013-09-09 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Pacifism 4 0:00:52 2013-06-11 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Low Ammo 3 0:00:54 2013-06-11 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen
Speed Run 6 0:00:15 2013-06-01 Zack 'Zallard1' Allard
Rematch 5 0:01:20 2014-10-14 Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen

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