Contra III: The Alien Wars (Super Nintendo) Second Opinion Review

By Camilo Aránguiz González 01.03.2017

Review for Contra III: The Alien Wars on Super Nintendo

Why is Cubed3 looking back at Contra III: The Alien Wars? Even more, why is the team celebrating its 25th anniversary? What could be the merits of a game that any mom would find violent, and many people would catalogue as an empty and brainless adventure?

In the '90s, Konami was one of the biggest videogame developers in the world, due to solid franchises that shone in the all-powerful NES era, like Castlevania, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Gradius, and, of course, Contra. At the given time, Contra, just like its brothers, had to make the jump to the 16-bit console. The result was Contra III: The Alien Wars. The question arises again, though: why should Contra III's anniversary be celebrated? Surprisingly, the answer can be elusive, if you don't know where to search.

The answer isn't found in its plot, which is near to non-existent. An alien invasion, set in the year 2636, has to be repelled by two masculine men and their bullets. Just a repetition of common tropes of '80s action and science fiction films. The presentation, while absolutely appropriate in the graphic and musical departments, doesn't give the answer, either.

However, the merits of Contra III do start appearing when its well-crafted gameplay is analysed. The intense but fair challenge will soon leave a mark in the player's thumbs, and the savage difficulty will provoke improvement at reflexes, memorisation, improvisation, and flexibility in the task of filling aliens with bullets. Throwing in two top-view stages - which takes advantage of the Mode-7 feature of the SNES - is a good or bad decision depending on who's talking. For the former, a nice change of rhythm, but for the latter, a weird mechanic that doesn't blend with the action.

Screenshot for Contra III: The Alien Wars on Super Nintendo

The brutal boss battles also suggest where the reason of the big renown of Contra III is. Excellent designs, amusing patterns and rewarding challenge will wheedle out some screams of "Yes!" of the player. Furthermore, it's not only the final bosses of the stages that are the good fights; all duels, against small or big foes, are incredibly amazing.

Nevertheless, this celebration isn't just because of some good gameplay decisions; there are tons of games that already achieved that task. The answer is behind the resolute compromise of Contra III with absolute and pure action and intensity.

Of course, this compromise involves sacrifices, which are present in the correct but average aspects of the game, like plot or music. However, all those features aren't that necessary when the adventure offers delightful, intense action scenes. If we need our muscular hero to have a strong backstory for being able to fire a flamethrower whilst hanging and jumping from missiles directed at an alien ship, then let's simply not have action games.

That's the merit of Contra III: pure 16-bit action scenes seasoned with brutal difficulty, awesome boss fights and insane, crazy moments, all of the above spiced up by one of the best cooperative gameplay in all 16-bit games.

Screenshot for Contra III: The Alien Wars on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Absolute intensity and action in the form of tough challenge, awesome action scenes, and incredible co-op run and gun madness assemble one of the best arcade-style experiences of the genre and one of the best games in the SNES library.

Also known as

Super Probotector: Alien Rebels






Run and Gun



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (5 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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