Contra 4 is, for better or worse, a new Contra game. It looks and plays just like Contra games before it: it's classic 2D side-scrolling action gameplay, with a notoriously difficult 1-hit KO system. Of course, would Contra fans have it any other way?
Those worried that the Nintendo DS would not provide the hardware capable of offering a decent looking Contra can rest their fears: the sprites are fairly impressive, with a good amount of detail and animation. The game's action takes place over both the top and bottom screens on the DS, but it seems like interaction with the top screen is fairly minimal at this point. That's a good thing: if too many things were firing from the top, the player would certainly be at a serious disadvantage. The game promises a lot of vertical platforming, which certainly sounds exciting to us. The new grappling hook helps players get to higher areas faster ... but didn't seem too consequential to gameplay. Maybe they can take a few pages from Bionic Commando?
The legions of Contra fans have a lot to be excited about, but for everyone else, there isn't much new to appreciate about this DS-exclusive sequel. We're sure that it'll be a good game, but without any noteworthy gameplay additions, we can't say that we're too heavily excited for it.