Review by matt91486

"Konami brings their famous series to the Super Nintendo"

After a dismal showing with Super Contra for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Konami is hoping a new system can restore the luster to this Contra series that is slowly tarnishing. Did Konami succeed? In a way they did succeed, but they also doomed the series to die a slow death in the future, never again to be like the original game, that started off the Contra series with so much promise.

Contra III: The Alien Wars was one of the last pure side-scrolling shooters when it was released. The point of the game is to destroy before being destroyed yourself. To destroy you, Konami has filled each and every level with helicopters, enemy troops, gun turrets, and much more to make your life miserable.

Contra III: The Alien Wars has a power-up system similar to the Raiden series. Get a certain power-up, and your weapon will improve to that style, or, if your weapon is already that style, it will fire more bullets at once, or something like that. This power-up system relies upon you destroying everything and everyone you can to get the best power-ups, otherwise you will die an untimely death, all too soon.

Konami did a fairly good job with the graphics in Contra III: The Alien Wars. I think that the character that you control, whose name currently escapes me, looks quite detailed and realistic, which is a refreshing change of pace from many Super Nintendo games. I think that to compare Contra III: The Alien Wars’s graphics to another game in the same genre would not be feasible, but I will say that the character design is fairly similar to that in the Mortal Kombat series.

The environments all look rather gloomy. The city that Contra III: The Alien Wars kind of looks like a run-down, beat up Gotham City. With that last comparison, I am not talking about New York City, but actually the Gotham City that the Batman universe is set in. The skies are all gray, the environment are all gray, most everything is gray. Contra III: The Alien Wars is painted in as many shades of gray as you can imagine.


The music in Contra III: The Alien Wars is rather good for a shooting game, where usually as much time is spent on the music as the time spent picking out the tape dispenser for the office. Inside the levels, you will hear a fast paced, yet gloomy and futuristic, song that stays in with the games gloomy theme set in the twenty-seventh century.

The sound effects seem to be poor, just like another Konami game that I recently reviewed, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4: Turtles in Time. This leads me to believe that voice acting and sound effects are not Konami’s strong points, and I should keep that in mind when I play future Konami games.

The voice acting is especially poor. The quality of the voice is grainy, and the voice has way to much resonance for one little, unimportant sound bite. The rest of the sound effects are workable. The gunfire sounds a bit metallic, but perhaps that is because many of the enemies are robots or metal machine guns. Other than the voice acting, the sound effects are about average, but, if I had my choice, I would be listening to different ones.

Konami has the buttons completing functions that I would have never dreamed that someone would have thought that they work. ‘A,’ instead of completing a normal function, sets off your bomb. First time players, especially if they do not have access to an instruction booklet, tend to accidentally fire their bomb right off the bat, thinking that ‘A’ either fires the machine gun, or causes the main character to jump. Instead firing is carried out by ‘Y’ and jumping by ‘B.’ The best thing about the control is that the main character responds well to everything, plus, you can fire in every direction.

While normally I believe that a higher difficulty level makes for a more fun and worthwhile game, I feel I need to make an exception for Contra III: The Alien Wars. In this game’s case, the difficulty is just frustrating, and it really does not add to the fun. The only thing that kept Contra III: The Alien Wars from getting a lower score than four in the fun category would be the cooperative play, even if it is quite obvious that the play was thrown in at the last possible instant. Everything when you play through Contra III: The Alien Wars in cooperative is exactly, one hundred percent, the same as in Single Player Mode, except for the fact that there is a second stream of bullets firing at the same enemies.

I did not realize that a video game could be so difficult. Konami has put together a complex artificial intelligence system that requires you to be awake at all times to fully understand exactly what you have to do at all times. This is by no means a mindless shooter, which was something I was kind of hoping for when I first bought Contra III: The Alien Wars. Enemies come at your from both directions, not just the front, and you need to whirl around almost constantly to avoid getting sniped. Speaking of sniping, there are plenty of helicopters and soldiers above you to, so you always need to watch the air. And, the worst of all, there are these machine guns that pop up out of the ground, and just fire relentlessly at you. To make matters worse, timing your jump to leap over these bullets is next to impossible.

The difficulty in Contra III: The Alien Wars is really to frustrating to make the game have even a low to medium rating in the replay value category, unless you are a true Contra master, or you are using a Game Genie. Even the cooperative play can not bring you to play Contra III: The Alien Wars again, something that, especially for me, rarely happens. To make matters worse, there is no Deathmatch Mode, a feature that would have been very welcome.

*You surely cannot beat Contra III: The Alien Wars in a day.
*Music surprisingly good for a shooter.
*Realistic graphics on a system where there are few games that can claim that.

*Sound effects are horrible, especially the voice acting.
*Probably a bit too difficult.
*Obvious that cooperative play was thrown in at the last possible second.

Konami got about halfway there, but they could not restore the luster to the Contra series. Super Contra was the beginning of the end. Contra III: The Alien Wars continued its free fall, until the series died a slow, painful death on the PlayStation with C: The Contra Adventure.


Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 12/08/00, Updated 07/18/01

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