Contra III: The Alien Wars SNES Review

You are a soldier in a futuristic year sent to stop aliens that have  appeared from under the Earth to take over the world while destroying it in the process. Contra 3: The Alien Wars is a 2D run and gun classic that is one of the best in the genre and could be the best in its franchise. I grew up with this game and not just that, but my friend’s little brother forced me to complete it for him time and time again. You know how little kids love to watch movies over and over again? Well Contra 3 was his movie that he wanted to see over and over. Long before Youtube, I was his best bet. He even forced me to amp up difficulty so he could laugh when I’d die, but it only made me BETTER!

Contra 3 has said to be one of the most difficult ever, because of the fact that if anything touches you, your dead! You’ve got plenty of lives and a few continues that restarts you at the beginning of the level. When you die, you just drop back in. Why am I starting off with how often you’ll die? Because it will happen often, even if your character has the ability to dodge everything! You can bring along a friend, because its two player simultaneous cooperative!


The gameplay is very good and offers several forms of gameplay from side scrolling platform shoot-em up action to overhead play against waves of soldiers, aliens and insects.The side scrolling action is simple, fun and fast paced. You’re agile, and nimble. There might be a lot of bullets on screen, but you have the ability to dodge them all. You’ve got a jump, attack, screen clearing bomb and you can change between two weapons. If you hold L + R  and shoot, you can use both weapons at once. While I can’t say this is an effective method of shooting, it looks cool and its more to show the power of the mighty SNES!

Part of the fun of Contra 3: The Alien Wars is the weapons. You start with a standard machine gun, that was a luxury in the original game. This game has tons of nice weapons, spread guns, homing missiles, lasers, flame throwers and more. Having the ability to change between two weapons is awesome. When you die, you’ll lose the gun that you were actively using, so skilled players can switch before they die. Of course really skilled players wouldn’t die. If you lose a weapon, its only a matter of time before a pod flies overhead and drops a new weapon, bomb or shield when you shoot it down.

The graphics are awesome and while the game has a grim look, it still has a bright and vibrant color pallet. Red fires, colorful characters and enemies. The enemies look great and they’re pretty detailed. The weapons look great too, a long red stream of bullets from your machine gun, the homing missiles sound great when they fire. The sound is really spot on and adds to the game. The music is energizing and to me stands out as one of the best soundtracks in video game history. There’s nothing mellow here, it keeps up with the fast pace of the game. It goes a long way to enhance the game.

Each of the seven levels is a lot more exciting than other games. The fat has been trimmed and the game throws enemies, bosses and mini bosses after you. You start off side scrolling in a large city that has a few mini bosses. The first is a wall that’s a throwback to the original Contra. Then its followed off by getting to drive a tank for the first time in Contra history. Then the entire city gets fire bombed and the ground turns into a hazard. That’s how the game reveals the need to hang from pipes. Its a fresh new mechanic. After that, you’ll fight a massive screen filling turtle that shoots, snaps at you and somehow releases swarming insects.

That’s just a sample of the game. You’ll be  in a smog filled skyline fighting flying aliens. Beheading giant cybernetic skeletons. Climbing the side of a building while dodging a drill bot. Then you’ll go on a crazy motorcycle ride that eventually leads to you getting a ride from a helicopter, before it fires a missile with you on it! This scene gets over the top as you’ll need to jump from missile to missile while hanging off of them. They’ll eventually explode on the boss and if you’re still hanging on one you’ll fall and might end up in the bottomless pit below. It all builds up to a hideous alien hive in the final level. This finale has several horrifying bosses that are a life draining challenge. Flying aliens, a giant brain, a face with legs and even a heart throwback to the original Contra.

The overhead scenes need you to press L and R to turn. Instead of jumping, you lie flat to dodge bullets. When you start, you select a zone to start in. In these stages, you’ll need to destroy several man hole enemy spawners. Once that’s done, you’re teleported to the boss. While I can’t say its as entertaining as the side scrolling stages, they’re a nice diversion. The first of the two stages is on one of the worst highways that I’ve ever seen. Not only has it fallen apart, but the roads go in circles! The next is a desert full of insects. Its not the insects and pits that you need to watch out for, its the conveyer belts and whirlwinds that will spin you around over and over again. Its sometimes a fight against motion sickness.

Contra 3 has to be one of the greatest games for the Super Nintendo and the best game in the franchise.

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