Contra III: The Alien Wars (Contra Spirits in Japan and Super Probotector: Alien Rebels in Europe) is a 1992 Super Nintendo Entertainment System game developed and published by Konami. It is the third console iteration of Contra, hence the title "Contra III". Originally, Contra Force was planned to be released first, but it ended up being released afterward.
In 1994, the game was ported to the Game Boy by Factor 5. It featured numerous differences, such as the removal of the ability to hold two weapons simultaneously. In 2002, the game was ported to the Game Boy Advance as Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX. The two top-down levels were cut out and replaced with stages from Contra: Hard Corps. The game was also ported to the Wii Virtual Console in 2007. Contra III: The Alien Wars is also one of the few games to be on the Nintendo Super System, an arcade system used to preview upcoming Super Nintendo games.
In the game's story, the year is 2636. Aliens are once again invading, so it's up to Bill Rizer and Lance Bean to beat sweet justice into the aliens. In the American version of the game, Bill and Lance are named Jimbo and Sully. Since the original NES Contra games take place in modern times, Jimbo and Sully are explained to be Bill and Lance's descendants. In the European version of the game, they were considered cyborgs named RD008 and RC011.
Contra III: The Alien Wars is a traditional Contra title. It has fast-paced, gritty, old-school action. Contra III is the first game in the Contra series to allow the player to hold two weapons, making it a landmark title in the franchise. In addition to that change, the power of the Super Nintendo allowed for larger, more detailed sprites and much more complex level design. Players can now jump on bars and climb on them monkey-bar style, climb walls and ladders, destroy various objects (such as the car right in front of the player in the very first level), and vehicles (such as a tank in the first level). New levels include one in which the player must jump between missiles while destroying an enemy ship, riding on a motorcycle while speeding down a road, riding on a jet ski, and two Mode 7 top-down levels.
In the Mode 7 levels, the player controls the view using the two shoulder buttons (R and L). By pressing these buttons, the camera rotates around. At the start of the stage, the player gets to choose where to be dropped in. Navigating around the area and destroying various targets eventually leads the player to a boss, which must be disposed of in a fashion similar to the 2D side-scrolling bosses.
If the Contra series has been known for anything, it's the wide variety of weapon power-ups available to the player. The letter next to each weapon in parenthesis detonates which lettered power-up awards the weapon to the player. By tapping the X button (standard controls), the player can swap between two weapon slots. If killed, only the weapon in the current slot will be taken away from the player as a penalty. Note that tapping X while shooting will rapidly switch weapons, allowing the player to fire anything twice as fast (within the physical limits of the player in question). Also, holding both shoulder buttons and pressing fire will result in a spinning attack with both equipped weapons being fired 360 degrees.
- Machine Gun (N/A) - The starting weapon of Contra III. Has a high rate of fire, but only shoots in one direction and has very low damage.
- Spread Shot (S) - Essentially the shotgun of the game. Fires out five weak shots that shoot out in five directions in front of the shooter. Excellent for clearing out crowds of foes and does good damage to bosses at close range. Not nearly as overpowered as in previous games in the series.
- Homing Missiles (H) - Weak missiles that seek out enemy targets.
- Laser (L) - A powerful gun that fires out one shot in side-scrolling levels, but turns into a continuous beam when in a top-down level. Takes down bosses with great speed.
- Shield (B) - Gives the player temporary invincibility to everything except for falling off the screen.
- Bomb (has the appearance of a bomb) - Sends out a circular wave of destruction that slowly spreads over the entire screen. Damages bosses and will instantly destroy most normal enemies. After each death, players will respawn with one bomb, and more can be obtained as weapon pickups.
- Crush Missile (C) - With the exception of the bomb, the strongest weapon in the game. It has short range, but incredible splash damage to compensate. When paired with another Crush Missile, it can take down bosses faster than any other weapon.
- Flame (F) - A flamethrower. Short range but can pass through barriers, making it ideal for certain situations. Also, when holding the fire button and switching the direction of fire, the flame will move in a waving pattern instead of snapping to the new direction like other weapons, providing a wider range of fire.
Contra III: The Alien Wars made use of the Mode 7 graphics mode of the Super Nintendo throughout the game. An example of its use within the game is within the first stage as the low-flying plane which appears mid-stage forms part of the background layer and is animated using Mode 7 (as it comes towards the player its size increases while its wings bank slightly). The bombs which it drops however are sprites.
A second example would be the turtle boss at the end of the first stage which also sits in the background but its moving legs and the bullets that it fires are sprites.