Contra III: The Alien Wars Review – Definitive 50 SNES Game #34

Contra III: The Alien Wars takes 34th place on the list of Definitive 50 SNES games. This furiously hard side-scrolling shooter was released in April of 1992. It was later ported to the GameBoy and GameBoy Advance, and is now available on the Wii’s Virtual Console.

Once again, players take control of two hardened action heroes as they fight the evil Red Faction aliens. This time, it’s the year 2636 the aliens have come to Earth.

Contra III‘s gameplay follows up right where its NES predecessors left off. You generally move left to right, blasting everything in sight for the sake of defending Earth. A single hit will kill you, and inexperienced players will quickly find themselves running out of lives and continues. Unlike the NES games though, there are no Konami or other extra lives codes to help you out. In fact, the “30 lives” and “level select” codes of Contra III‘s Japanese version were removed for the North American edition.

Getting through Contra III‘s six brutally difficult stages requires skill and memorization, as well as a willingness to destroy everything in your path. Thankfully, the game’s controls are on your side. Movement is tight and precisely controlled by the directional pad, and it is easy and intuitive to navigate jumps, grab onto architecture, and maneuver around obstacles.

In addition to The Alien Wars‘ traditional side scrolling levels, there are two overhead stages which take advantage of the Super NES’s Mode-7 sprite-rotation technology. On these levels, you must rotate your character with the L and R shoulder buttons while moving with the D-pad. These levels are a welcome addition that add variety to the action.

Contra and Super C on NES are remembered as fiendishly difficult classics. Contra III: The Alien Wars follows in that tradition, bringing the memorable gameplay of those games to the 16-bit era, taking full advantage of the improved technology provided.

Check back next week for entry 33 on the Definitive 50 SNES games.