next up in the contra series for me was contra III: the alien wars for SNES. [back to back SNES games? what’s the world coming to??] like many other franchises that originated pre-SNES, contra 3 really feels like a leap forward, with a huge improvement in the graphics and sound. the core gameplay is as solid as ever, although my enjoyment of the game was hampered by the lack of a 30-man code (which, completely mystifyingly, was in the original japanese release but was removed for the north american release). the game’s options allow you to set your lives to be up to 7, and as a series first it includes three levels of difficulty.
aside from this significant handicap (although perhaps this is just konami’s way of telling us we’ve gotten to expect too much coddling from the other contra games), the game unfortunately has a few other issues as well. there’s an impressive number of boss and sub-boss battles, but some of them require far too much “try and die” playing; the last boss is a particularly egregious example. the game also includes two top-down levels, which have never been a strong point in the series for me, and they’re similarly dull here. there’s also a stage that takes place on motorcycles that is a great idea that could’ve been better executed.
despite this niggling, the game is a definite classic. there’s a lot of variety within each level and the additions to the gameplay are great, and the game features numerous set pieces, including navigating rails with one arm and shooting with the other; all the weapons are wholly worthwhile (now featuring bombs, the new flamethrower, and the ability to switch between two weapons); and the co-op gameplay is as much fun as ever, although, again, the enjoyment is hampered by the game’s difficulty. the action gets pretty intense, although there’s rarely any slowdown. all in all this is an SNES classic that, despite its difficulty, is a definite high point for the series. looking to the future it seems that many of the subsequent releases were less than impressive, but it will be interesting to see how the series has evolved.
shoot up these contra III links:
– the look back at sydlexia.com sums up the game well: “[T]oday’s games are designed to be beaten; Contra III was designed to beat you. And it *will* beat you, over and over again.”
– entry at strategywiki.org
– entry at wikipedia