Its graphics are nearly as impressive today as they were nearly 10 years ago, and the gameplay is nearly as exciting.
Even though you've probably heard of the Contra franchise, there's a chance you've never played any of the original games. Contra and Super C were in the arcades and on Nintendo's NES console in the mid to late 1980s, while Contra III: The Alien Wars and Contra: Hard Corps settled onto the Super NES and Sega Genesis in 1992 and 1994 respectively. It's been nearly a decade since a true 2D Contra has been available on store shelves.
When Contra III: The Alien Wars was released for the Super NES in 1992, it raised the standards by which subsequent 2D action games would be measured. Its graphics were beautiful, featuring postapocalyptic landscapes and massive alien bosses. Most of all, the gameplay was simple and addictive. Earth was awash in alien creatures and corrupt soldiers, and your job was to shoot them all. The latest game, Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX, is a remake of Contra III. Its graphics are nearly as impressive today as they were nearly 10 years ago, and the gameplay is nearly as exciting.
You play the role of Billy, one of the few remaining soldiers left over after the alien forces of Red Falcon initiated a cataclysmic invasion of Earth. It's up to you to launch a suicidal counterattack through six stages teeming with alien soldiers, bosses, and hazards. Unlike many modern action games, Contra Advance doesn't bog you down with overly complicated weapons or control schemes. You can run, jump, and shoot, and sometimes you can climb. You can carry only one weapon at a time, but pods that give you the option to swap for another weapon fly past at various intervals. Available weapons include a machine gun, a spread gun, a flamethrower, crash missiles, homing missiles, and a laser, as well as temporary force shields.
The challenge is to figure out how to get through each stage without running out of lives, which isn't an easy task considering the hundreds of armed aliens trying to kill you. Contact with enemies and their bullets, or with hazards such as spikes and flames, will cost you a life. Each stage also has two boss characters you'll need to defeat. Some are massive and most have multiple forms, which means that you'll have to duck under appendages and scale walls in order to fight them. Every boss has its own set of patterns, and some weapons work better than others against them. Overall, this mixture of intense action and selective strategy makes for a game that's both fun and fast.
The visuals in Contra Advance are equally satisfying. Backgrounds are colorful and have multiple layers of scrolling. Screens constantly fill with enemies, bullets, and explosions. Even with dozens of objects onscreen at any given time, the action never bogs down or becomes choppy. The huge screen-filling bosses are just as impressive today as they were almost a decade ago, perhaps more so since few games have done better in the meantime. Contra Advance does show its age in some aspects, however. The level of detail in some backgrounds is simplistic compared to a number of modern action games, and the amount of animation isn't on par with the likes of Metroid Fusion or even Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance. As a result, Billy and the alien swarm aren't as lifelike as they could be.
- Player Reviews: 4
- Game Universe:
- Contra: Legacy of War (PS, SAT),
- Contra 4 (DS, MOBILE),
- Neo Contra (PS2),
- Konami Collector's Series: Castlevania & Contra (PC),
- Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX (GBA),
- Contra: Shattered Soldier (PS2),
- C: The Contra Adventure (PS),
- Contra: The Alien Wars (GB),
- Contra: Hard Corps (GEN),
- Contra Force (NES)
- Number of Players: