Contra III: The Alien Wars

Super NES

Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 9

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 8

Looks like that "mode 7" thing is turning out to be quite a seller for the people designing games for the SNES. Case in point, Contra III: The Alien Wars, which uses this incredible effect with great success!

Much like Castlevania IV, Konami has taken a popular formula and juiced it up for the 16 bit system. The Contra series comes from the arcades and essentially features one or two players simultaneously waging a personal war against an incredibly evil enemy. In this scenario, it's aliens. This war takes place over six missions, most of which work in a familiar side-view, left-to-right with a boss at the end perspective. What is unique with this game, however, is the top-down, split-screen, boss coming from every direction missions that really set Contra III apart.

Some of the effects are quite dramatic. In the first stage, a bomber plane comes from a distance, moves in close to drop bombs, and disappears off the screen practically in your face! It only lasts a few seconds, but the effect will be remembered for a long time. Other breathtaking effects include a wild airborne ride hopping from missile to missile, a battle with a two-story tall turtle, and a trip though a desert with swirling sand. Each level of the game thrilled me with new challenges. This is what videogaming is all about.

I don't need to go on about graphics, and the sounds are similarly excellent. So why didn't I give this game a ten? Well, it was hard not to. The gameplay is very fast, most of the levels are long, with mini-bosses to defeat along the way, and the difficulty level ranges from "easy" (Contra veterans should whip through in a couple of hours) to "hard" (impossible for me to finish alone). It's as close to a ten as you can get.

Where Contra III isa bit weak isin the SNES slowdown department. It's not Konami's fault - in fact, they did remarkably well considering the amount of movement on the screen at any given time. When setting off a bomb during gameplay, however, the action practically comes to a stop. Explosions of large objects slow the action down as well.

If other game designers follow Konami's lead, the future of SNES software looks very bright. I count three winners already, and I'd bet their best is yet to come.

TIP: If you have a rapid-fire joystick, you're at an advantage here. Set the X button to rapid fire and press it along with the Y button to simultaneously fire weapons in both hands.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:21 PM