Retro Review | Contra 3: The Alien Wars

By James Temperton 25.09.2003 1

Contra 3: The Alien Wars
A true SNES classic, we never could put it down...

Review by Spydarlee

Game Information

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Konami
Players: 1
Genre: 2D Shooter
Origin: Japan
Format: SNES

Release Data
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Well what can we say? The original Contra and its sequel were two of the biggest and most defining games on the NES. Nearly everyone who had a NES had one or the other (or often both). They had there reasons of course, the best game of their genre, people knew that in time there would be another...



Many still consider Contra 3 the best of its type after TEN YEARS! That's quite an achievement. It is truly a 2D shooter like no other. So many unique features make this game outstandingly, brilliantly amazing, that I could go on for days, but I won't. Anyway, here go's let's get down to business. To start things off, the third game in the series takes place a few hundred years into the future. Red Falcon, the alien invader from the first two games, returns once again, trying to conquer the plant and all that. The descendants of the original heroes must take the place of their ancestors to whip some alien butt. Their journey will be long and tough, leading them through a ravaged futuristic city, to eventually end up at Red Falcons hive. Of course if you are a NES or SNES fan, you will already be aware of the vast number of titles like this available. All of which are very similar; they are all in the future, being attacked by aliens. A hero or two with an arsenal of 40,000 rushes out to meet them, and voila, you have one of the most copied games of any genre. So what is it that makes this one so special?

The first thing you will not
ice is just how much is going on the whole time. The screen is never empty there are always enemies somewhere trying to extinguish your life force. There are of course a wide variety of enemies scattered throughout. Starting off with the default grunt, which come in multiple forms as well, they have different weapons and are instantly recognisable from there colour. For example the basic, basic grunt doesn't even fire at you he just runs around holding his gun, another throws grenades at you then there are the likes of snipers that hide on the tops of buildings trying to pick you off. Once you've played for a little while the next big thing you will notice are the Bosses and Sub Bosses. There are LOADS of these, all are very challenging and have their own strengths and weaknesses you must discover if you hope to win. To give you an idea of just how frantic these battles are, we'll describe one here for you. Try and imagine this; You run into a confined area where two BIG robots are located the door shuts and you are sealed in with them, one starts charging at you and another stands still and just shoots the for the hell of it . The other robot is closing in, what to do? Aha the walls are climbable, and then shimmy across the ceiling, but what's this robot's can jump too! Plus they can hang off the ceiling like you. So as your running around trying to avoid all the enemy fire, your supposed to firing back too, and while you are you cant run (if your climbing) which means your likely to be hit. Then just to top it all off, if you actually manage to defeat them, the room starts being pulled apart at the back by two massive hands, and guess what a GIANT robot appears. He also requires a brand new way to defeat him!

So it's far from a calm game. You always have to be aware of what's going on around you, as well as your health. One good point of the game though is you have infinite ammo on all your weapons, except bombs. Bombs are activated by pressing the A button, it release a large energy field that destroys everything on screen, but must be used sparingly as you don't get very many. Back to the guns, you fire with Y, and this can just be held down for a continuous barrage on the enemy. So what are the weapons I hear you ask? Well being a futuristic game there basically what you would expect, but a LOT better. The default weapons fires little balls of energy in a straight line but can be fired in all up to eight directions (including diagonals). However the real fun starts with the heavy weaponry. To collect a new weapon you have to shoot the little machines that fly overhead, they drop them and you pick 'em up. They come in the form of a little eagle shaped badge with a letter on it. The letter tells you what you'll be getting, for example S stands for Spread, which fires three times as many energy balls as the default weapon, and in three times the amount of directions. H stands for Homing Missiles, which do what you would expect, and are probably THE most useful weapon in the game, (especially when your on a boss and don't know where your supposed to be firing). Another interesting feature is the ability to carry two weapons at the same time! In it's time this was the first game to include such a unique idea. A quick bash of the X button will change it for you, it is often imperative to change guns on certain bosses, if you want even a slight chance of winning. You keep a gun until you get hurt, because there is no ammo limit you could use one gun for the whole game, but judging by the difficulty of the game, playing through without getting hurt is EXTREMELEY unlikely.

When we said it was difficult we weren't lying either. This is easily on
e of, if not the most challenging 16-bit games of all time. There is no saving, so you must complete the game in just one go! This game will test anybody's gaming abilities, to complete this is quite a feat on it's own, but then once you do you get to play through again on, wait for it

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