Review: Contra III: The Alien Wars (SNES)

Run 'n gun

Konami really went all out with this title, the third instalment to the Contra series (or Probotector to gamers in the PAL regions). The development team at the time must have relished the challenge of developing on the Super Nintendo as this is one of the more impressive games on the system; the experience is a good deal bigger and brasher than the 8-bit NES games. Gone are the jungle themed landscapes in favour of a post-apocalyptic fallen city overrun by alien invaders.

You and a friend can take on these evil alien hoards as Rambo style mercenaries (or blue and pink robots in the Probotector variant of the game!). Most of the action takes the form of a standard run n’ gun platform style, however there are two top-down sections in the game, all with liberal helpings of the Super Nintendo’s famous Mode 7 technology to provide some nice scaling and rotating effects.

The action is always fast and furious. The game really plays like a 80s big budget Hollywood film, with huge set-pieces happening almost constantly. You’ll take on terminator style robots (and their Dad!), rush through a collapsing city enduring earthquakes and fire rising from the ground, and also take on a giant enemy vehicle in style while on a motorbike.

The controls in Contra III: The Alien Wars are perfection. The players are very manoeuvrable and can hang on to railings, grapple up walls, dual wield weapons and somersault through the air to avoid oncoming attacks. There is no doubt this game is better played on the Wii’s classic controller, which models the SNES controller layout. The GameCube controller feels a bit clunky with its button layout.

The visuals work really well in this game. The detail in the backdrops is outstanding for a game of this era, the sprites still look good today and the special effects still impress. The musical score is amazing too, it becomes instantly very memorable and the tension really builds up during boss fights.

Some newcomers to this game may be intimidated by the difficulty level; the action is fast and frantic and your reactions will be really put to the test. Don’t be ashamed to set the player lives count to 7 and put the settings to easy if you are finding the going too tough. You will never die because the game is sluggish like some similar games, it is always because you just didn’t react fast enough.

Conclusion

This really is a great game and deserves to be downloaded by any fan of the Virtual Console. It is lots of fun playing solo but it shines even more brightly when playing two player co-op. Highly recommended.