All year, we held out vain hope that the American-developed DS Contra sequel wouldn't be terrible. We tried to put our memories of Appaloosa Interactive's two PlayStation failures out of our minds and have faith in WayForward. We did our best to believe that a new 2D Contra had the potential not to be a crushing disappointment.
We were rewarded with one of the best games on the DS, and possibly the best game in the Contra series. It's hard to think of a better DS game than Konami's mind-blowingly manly Contra 4. So we didn't try. We've put together this guide to five of the best gifts you can give this holiday season, all of which are Contra 4. While it would most certainly be enough to list Contra 4 five times, we thought we would break it up by listing five different ways to package the gift of Contra.
Self-explanatory. This is the default condition of Contra 4 gifts: you just go to the store (or the Internet), buy the thing, wrap it up all pretty in some appropriately militaristic paper, and hand it off. Your friend will certainly thank you, and will hopefully be immediately and passionately receptive to the idea of hours and hours of cooperative play with you, who -- oh, right, you DID just happen to bring your copy! A basic wrapped gift would be kind of a boring way to give the game, if not for the simple fact that you're giving someone Contra 4 and you can high-five yourself for a couple of weeks before and after. In fact, if you're planning to give it to someone for one of the winter gift-giving holidays, you're due to start high-fiving yourself right now. Put on a headband, too.
Contra 4 is clearly the most appropriate gift for everyone on your list, no matter what their interests -- trust us, we know what your family and friends would like better than you do. (Note: DS Fanboy gift suggestions are for entertainment purposes only. Do not hold DS Fanboy responsible for the ill effects of any gift-giving experience.) However, a few of the people on your list just may not have a DS of their own. That's when you suck it up and shell out the $130 to make damn sure they can play the copy of Contra 4 you're giving them. We suggest the red-and-black model for seniors badasses, because the color scheme matches the aesthetics of the game so well. What's $160 or so compared to the joy of giving someone something they don't even know they want, and to go with that, electronics that they weren't interested enough in to get themselves?
We've seen Ping Pals for as low as $2, so this fakeout wouldn't necessarily cost as much. Imagine your friend's feigned excitement upon opening a package containing Ping Pals. "Oh, wow," he or she will say, "now I can chat with people in the same room using my DS, as long as they also have Ping Pals and neither of us decides just to use PictoChat instead! How did you know?" Then, later, when he or she is trading it in, the guy at GameStop will open the case and say "Hey, did you know that there's a copy of Contra 4 in here?" And your friend will wish that he/she had actually opened the case like six months earlier.
It's considered romantic to hide an engagement ring in, like, a cake or some other fancy thing, and then let your girlfriend happen upon it during dinner. Therefore, it must be both romantic and awesome to do the same with a Contra 4 cartridge. There may be some logistical difficulties with this, however. You'd have to have some really big food item in which to hide the whole box, but if you just put the card inside a wine glass or something, you risk damaging the card. It would be best to custom-make some kind of hollow dessert into which you can secret the gift. Don't hide the thing too well, or the recipient will eat it. Although, now that we think about it, eating Contra 4 is the only thing more hardcore than beating Contra 4.
A word of advice to the holiday shopper: do not give Contra 4 in this way to someone who has a reasonable expectation of becoming engaged to you in the near future. You will be unable to complete your shopping list if you are murdered.
While not technically a copy of Contra 4, the commutative property of multiplication proves that Contra 1 x 4 = Contra 4 x 1. Thus, buying four separate copies of Contra is an equivalent gift. It's also much more expensive and requires a lot more work. It's also only an appropriate gift for someone who has both a European and American NES, a Japanese Famicom, and an MSX2 computer. You could substitute an Xbox 360, a cell phone, or space for an arcade cabinet for any one of those, which helps the likelihood of meeting the conditions for enjoyment of this gift. We suppose you could give someone four identical copies of Contra, if they only have one of these devices, but that would just be ridiculous.
Oh, by the way, the NES game is on the Contra 4 card.
Now that you're ready to go and fill stockings with Contra 4 (oh man, we totally forgot about filling stockings with Contra 4!) we'll give you one final tip for your shopping trip: when you're out picking up all your copies of Contra 4, be careful not to pick up Contra Force by mistake. The names are awfully similar-sounding, so you could end up with the wrong game, especially if you ask a retail employee to retrieve the game for you. To make sure this doesn't happen, just remember to make sure before you leave the store that it isn't 1992. If it's 1992, you've probably picked up the wrong game.