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Contra III: The Alien Wars – Super Nintendo

Contra III: The Alien Wars – Super Nintendo

contra 3Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Konami

Release Date (NA): April 6, 1992

Genre: Run-n-gun

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

If you’re a glutton for punishment, then Contra III: The Alien Wars is the game for you. Enough said. Review over. Have a good night.

I am only kidding folks. There’s so much more to Contra III than absurd difficulty. Contra III: The Alien Wars is a damn fine game and one of the most memorable games of my 1990s experiences. Hanging from missiles, giant flame-throwing robot aliens, destructive tank riding, high-speed hovercycles, and so much more. What more could you ask from a 1990s run-n-gun game that feels like you’re playing a 1980s hero action movie?

contra 3 3Konami pulled out all the stops with this installment in the classic Contra series. Improving upon the already solid gameplay of the original two games, Konami refused to hold back anything, opting to go above and beyond madness. The original Contra is highly regarded as one of the most difficult games ever made, despite holding simultaneous accolades as one of the best and most fun games for the NES. The sequel to this masterpiece was Super C (AKA Super Contra or less often referred to as Contra II), a game that improved ever so slightly to the original. It wasn’t until the release of Contra III: The Alien Wars that fans were treated to vast improvements in every major category in no small part because of the major improvements in hardware technology. It is still a shame to me that many consider the original Contra to be the definitive game in the series. Contra III is vastly superior and twice as fun in every way.

contra 3 1

Picking up some number of years after mankind destroyed the aliens in Super C, those aliens have returned to start a war against the humans on Earth, historically referenced as “The Alien Wars.” The year is 2636, the cities are in ruins. Aliens aren’t just attacking Earth, they are taking over. Bill and Lance are long gone, but our two new heroes seem to be solely responsible for saving the world from imminent destruction. Although the story is similar to and practically the same as previous installments, I appreciate the familiarity.

This is what happens when you play Contra III all day and then go to the bars later that night...

This is what happens when you play Contra III all day and then go to the bars later that night…

The whole concept of Aliens VS Humans is still wholly intact here. The improved hardware allowed Konami to really showcase an overwhelming sense of alien intrusion as you fight off upwards of a dozen alien creatures or robots at a time. And when I say you fight off a dozen aliens at a time, I mean it. And it’s relentless. Whether you are playing solo or with a friend, you are constantly under attack from start to finish. Newer run-n-gun games (now often referred to as third-person or first-person shooters) such as Gears of War often have lulls or story-building moments, but not Contra III. When I say it’s relentless, I mean it. But that is part of the joy here. It’s like playing in a high budget action movie!

There is one major caveat to the intense action sequences; your patience will be tested because this game is very challenging. There are times when I feel as if catching a bullet is inevitable. I know this isn’t always true, but the one-hit-death that we “enjoyed” in the first two Contra games “fortunately” found its way onto this cartridge too. With no available cheat codes – there is no Konami code here – you will undoubtedly struggle to beat the game! It’s not exactly the longest game, and it’s not quite as difficult as its NES predecessors, but it is hard regardless.

contra 3 4Previously I mentioned that Contra III: The Alien Wars improved every category over the first two Contra games. I don’t mean that it “sort of” improved, or that it was “slightly” improved. These improvements are quite massive. The NES was, and is, a fantastic gaming system, but the SNES was very impressive and miles ahead of the NES. Konami made great use of the SNES’s impressive color palette and its superb processing power to present a graphically superior classic. And I don’t mean graphically superior to just Contra and Super Contra. I mean that this game is graphically superior to many many SNES games. The animations are brilliant, the colors are sharp, the lines are crisp, and the overall look is a excellent. And did I mention the Mode-7 levels? Contra III features 2 top-down perspective levels that utilize the Super Nintendo’s patented Mode-7 capabilities for some added badassness.

Speaking of improvements, we can’t forget about the soundtrack and sound effects! Both are very appropriate and contra 3 2lend a helping hand to the intense action sequences throughout. I absolutely love the machine gun sound, but what always impresses me the most are the boss sounds! These bosses are typically very big and the battles are very tense. Although the game is obviously animated and not “life-like,” the music and sound effects have a way of getting the gamer wrapped up in the moment.

The controls in Contra III are as solid as ever upholding Konami’s reputation for tight game controls across their then-modest library of games. The biggest change in controls comes in the form of level 2 and level 5, both of which utilize the Mode-7 style. Due to the camera angle, learning the controls can be somewhat challenging at first, but it is easy to pick up once you start toying around with the buttons (including the L and R shoulder buttons).

contra 3 5Overall, Contra III: The Alien Wars is an impressive feat for Konami, and easily the best game in the series to date. There are many other Contra games, and most would probably argue that the original Contra is the best. What I would say to them is, “Really? Are you sure? How much time have you actually spent playing Contra III?” Contra III IS Contra 1 and 2 but with better graphics, better action, better music, better controls, better everything! So what I truly enjoy most about playing Contra III is how I feel like I’m playing a more well-polished version of the classic game that I grew up with. And that, to me, is why Contra III goes down as the best run-n-gun game of the 8 and 16 bit era.

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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