When Nintendo launched the Super Nintendo fans rejoiced based on the hopes that 16-Bit updates of NES favorites would be coming soon. This hope was kindled from the fact that Super Mario World was a pack-in cart (yeah, there was a time when systems came with games and TWO controllers). While many NES classics did see updates on the new Nintendo system, there were many that didn’t. Konami made sure to be one of the companies that supported the fan base by bringing out new versions of classic titles. Contra III: The Alien Wars, as the name implies, is a direct sequel to Super C (unlike that atrocious Contra Force that confusingly hit the NES).
There is, somewhat of, a story behind this game but it doesn’t really matter. All you need to know is, you run to the right and shoot EVERY thing that comes at you. Unlike Contra Hard Corps (Sega Genesis version, see issue #1 of RGM for more), the story is not presented all that well and is quickly forgotten as you play “just one more level”.
Graphically, this is how sequels on more powerful hardware should be handled. Everything is “familiar” to the NES versions but is presented slightly different and with new additions to expand the overall repertoire. If you are wondering, yes, things explode nicely.
Contra has never been just a 2D side scrolling run and gun game, not even the first one was only that. Contra III continues the evolution of the overhead levels to feature some decent Mode 7 effects (which are also used in some areas of 2D levels). The effect is cool but not distracting from the action- the way effects should be.
Contra III does not include a “Konami Code” cheat which kind of sucks, I mean, they have a code named after them and they didn’t use it for ANYTHING in this game. Instead, in North America, gamers got a difficulty and lives select option.
Contra III: The Alien Wars hit both the Wii Virtual Console (January 29th, 2007) and the Wii U Virtual Console (November 28th, 2013). There was a port for the Game Boy Advance (November 2992) but it is not available digitally yet (it could appear on the 3DS Virtual Console at some point). Then there is the venerable SNES version that is a cartridge and probably will work for many years longer than the hardware required to play the digital re-releases.
For a direct comparison of the Genesis Contra Hard Corps and the Super Nintendo’s Contra III check out the premiere issue of Retro Gaming Magazine.