In case the difficulty gets a bit too rough, the original “Konami Code” makes a re-appearance. Pause the game at any time and enter “Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, B, A, Start” to upgrade your special weapon to full power. Don’t get greedy though - a second use means instant death.
After completing the single player adventure, Contra 4’s challenge mode automatically unlocks. Consisting of 40 different deviously designed challenges, this mode is a cross between advanced tutorial and pure torture. Each challenge forces you to discover the ideal route through to the goal and to execute it perfectly. There’s zero room for error here, because unlike in the main game you get no extra lives. Every run has to be a perfect run.
Completing the challenges unlocks a number of impressive goodies including alternate character models, Contra digital comics and the original NES versions of Contra and Super C. Never fear: the two NES games are the first to unlock so even average players should get to see them. The emulation appears to be spot-on, with the only problem being a lack of two-player support. The main game, for the record, does support two players.