Here's the thing, WayForward Technologies: it's not that I dislike you, or that I think you're incompetent. In fact, I'm confident that you are quite capable of producing a quality piece of programming. Consider the case of Contra 4, for example, and I'm sure that you'd agree with my initial statement. The graphics were spectacular, given that what you were trying to achieve (namely, something reminiscent of the 16-bit era) was done so remarkably well, as was the audio. Every pulsating beat is nicely accentuated by explosions galore, and I can appreciate the genuine effort put forth by your enterprising development team. The problem is that you took your job too seriously, and due to such zeal, you felt the need to make the aforementioned game so outrageously difficult that it effectively alienates a large chunk of your desired audience. No, I'm not referring the hardcore, twelve to sixteen year old boy crowd; as that demographic is always content to lap at the fountain of absurdity without a shred of remorse. Good for them.
A different, less enthusiastic portion of the audience is where I call home. It's a dank pit, populated by people once known as avid gamers, now resigned to the harrowing reality of having -partially- grown up. Whatever growing up may or may not entail, I firmly believe that one such factor must surely consist of not being willing to partake in fucking asinine bouts of digitally enhanced masochism, you know? Yeah, we can deal with the Nintendo DS, and its fancy stylus, because we're progressive thinkers like that, and due to the fact that it's a quaint novelty that occasionally tickles our fancy (the touch screen is so cute, after all). Additionally, the dual screen feature of the NDS is, invariably, an interesting addition to the video game experience, insomuch that it can come in handy, especially for checking out maps, statistics, and whatnot.
Mario Party DS, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, and Mario Kart DS are three good examples of utilizing two screens optimally, but with regard to Contra 4, not so much, and by that I'm saying that it pisses me the fuck off. Instead of filling one screen to its edges with random, generic bad dudes that emit an endless barrage of flashing bullets, grenades, lasers, ejaculatory substances, etc. at the player, you, Mr. WayForward, chose to fill both screens with such nonsense.
Some folks would contend that I'm just feeling bitchy today, and while they'd be correct (mostly), to those critics I ask the simple question of 'Have you actually played the game, without employing a modified version of the fabled Konami code* to ensure your success?' Probably not. Honestly, I have to wonder what the hell they were thinking about when playtesting the game with regular people. When children began to cry, some dude said it wasn't hard enough. When grown men began to cry, it wasn't hard enough. When the Japanese government determined that the game was a better way to annoy foreigners than incessant fingerprinting at immigration checkpoints, it still wasn't hard enough. When an aborted fetus (six days removed) began to weep at the mere sight of the title screen, the developers felt like they were on to something grand. Let's get straight to the politically incorrect, not-so-friendly truth: the game's difficulty is, at many points, fucking retarded, and you can quote me on that.
Granting that, I'll still finish the goddamn game, even if I have to forgo my illustrious E-2 status to do so. I completed Contra, Super C, Contra III, and Contra: Hard Corps (and fought my way to all six endings of that last one) during my formidable years, so I'll be damned if this is the straw that breaks the dysfunctional camel's back.
* The one that grants you, the broken man, thirty lives to waste in battle.