Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX

Game Boy Advance

Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 7.5

Overall: 7


Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX is a decent mixture of classic SNES Contra action and the Genesis Hard Corps. It's an odd mix, some things seem out of place, yet it's still Contra. That's really all fans want in the first place, yet why a direct port wasn't attempted is an odd one.

The vile Red Falcon is invading earth yet again and it's up to two muscle bound guys carrying massive guns to get him off the planet. Strangely enough, the classic opening intro from the SNES version has been removed as has any mention of the story in the instruction book. Not that it really matters however since, at it's heart, is a mindless shooter.

Taking the meat of it's gameplay from the Super NES version of Contra III, arguably the best of the Contra's, most of the game works. The overhead mode-7 levels have been removed and replaced by levels from the Genesis game. These levels really don't fit since these levels contain enemies completely different from the rest of the game. Also, clocking in at a measly six levels, the game is short and any Contra vet should be able to beat this one in a matter of hours.

Gameplay has also been tweaked, but not for the better. The ability to harness two weapons at a time has been removed, a key feature sorely missing. Also gone are the nuclear blasts that would help anyone get out of sticky situations. These were obviously excluded to increase the difficulty level, a cheap way to extend the games life. Unless this is your first Contra experience, you shouldn't have that much trouble after a few plays through anyway.

Pulling every frame of animation from the SNES/Genesis versions and cramming it into a small Game Boy Advance cart was surely no easy feat. The complete lack of slowdown is an even bigger accomplishment and it's obvious great care has been taken to eliminate this issue. Any flaws come with the inclusion of the Genesis levels. Not only are the enemies out of place, but the drab colors and low detail levels are blatantly obvious and Konami will have a hard time convincing people these levels are original as stated on the box.

Though the music tracks are easily recognizable, the GBA's sound chip was not used to it's fullest capacity. Most of the tunes could be easily re-created on with a decent MIDI program. The sound effects have made their way intact, and it's baffling as to why the same couldn't have been done for the music. The classic music from the SNES version was never meant to sound like this.

For those looking to take Contra 3 with them on the road, this is a definite improvement over the decent Game Boy Color conversion from a few years back, but it's by no means perfect. Losing the overhead levels is a disappointment, but the Genesis levels do make up for it somewhat and at least make for a unique experience. As an overall package, the game is a disappointment, but most Contra fans will still find enough to keep themselves occupied for a car trip.


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Last updated: Saturday, June 11, 2005 06:37 AM