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Contra III – The Alien Wars

Genre

Run and gun

Console

SNES

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SNES

Contra III – The Alien Wars

Contra III – The Alien Wars[b] is a 1992 run and gun video game developed and published by Konami for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It is the third home console entry in the Contra series after Contra (1988) and Super C (1990) for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). In PAL regions, it was retitled Super Probotector: Alien Rebels and the player characters were replaced with robots. The player is tasked with fighting off an alien invasion of Earth across six stages. Four stages feature side-scrolling action traditional to the series while two are presented from an overhead perspective. It is the first Contra title to have been directed by Nobuya Nakazato who later directed other games in the series. He designed Contra III to feature more comical elements, a more cinematic soundtrack, and tighter stage design than its predecessors.

Contra III received positive reviews, with critics praising its arcade quality derived from its sound and visual design. It has been called one of the best Contra games in retrospective reviews. It was ported to the Game Boy as Contra: The Alien Wars (1994) by Factor 5 where it received positive reviews for its Super Game Boy enhancements. Konami also released a Game Boy Advance port titled Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX (2002) which received more critical reviews for removing features in the original. The Super NES version was rereleased several times on Nintendo‘s online distribution services.

Gameplay

Four stages are side-scrolling (top) while two are played from an overhead perspective (bottom).

Contra III is a side-scrolling run and gun game akin to the series’ predecessors.[2] Players take on the role of commandos Bill Rizer and Lance Bean fighting off an alien invasion on Earth.[3] It can be played in single-player or a two-player cooperative mode.[3] There are six stages in total; four are side-scrolling while two are presented in an overhead perspective using the Super NES’s Mode 7 rendering mode.[2][4] In the side-scrolling stages, the player progresses by running, jumping, and shooting at enemies.[2] In the overhead stages, the player navigates across the stage to find and destroy predetermined targets.[5] The stages each feature unique controls, giving the player the ability to rotate the screen to navigate.[4] All stages have a boss at the end and occasionally a mid-stage boss.[6] The player will lose a life by touching enemies or their bullets, or falling down a pit.[6]

The player is equipped with two machine guns that can be swapped at will and upgraded with power-ups.[6] These power-ups are typically dropped from flying pods and include alternate shot types: homing missiles, torpedoes, a flamethrower, a laser, and a spread shot.[3][7] Picking up a power-up will replace the shot type of the gun equipped, and losing a life will result in losing the power-up from the gun equipped.[2][3] Bombs and a temporary barrier shield may also be dropped.[3][7] The player has limited bombs, and using them will damage all enemies on the screen.[2] The player can also perform a spinning jump, firing both guns in an aerial somersault.[3] However, during this move, both of the player’s weapons will be at risk of being lost upon losing a life.

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