Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Contra III: The Alien Wars - Wall-walking boss in level 3

I've been looking forward to playing this for awhile since the Contra games on the NES are definitely among my favorites. They are so well done in terms of level design and enemy placements and attack patterns. So I was excited to put this into my Super Nintendo. I was a bit disappointed.

It is enjoyable, but it just doesn't feel quite as good as the NES versions. I can't quite put my finger on what it is about it. Then again, Contra's sequel, Super C wasn't quite as good as the original either. And, at least for Super C I know that isn't nostalgia talking.

One really nice thing about this game is the weapons. The crush and homing missiles are very good additions to the Contra power-up arsenal and being able to have two different weapons and switch between them is great too. I would say that makes the game significantly easier, but then I've only gotten up to the third level. Still, all that is something I think the game does well.

What I think the game doesn't do as well is the platforming. The first two Contra games had different platforms that you could jump to, but it was rare that you had to constantly jump from place to place just in order to survive the environment. Contra III has that in the first level when the ground gets fire-bombed. There are various spews of fire and lava that you have to time your jumps to avoid and it just comes off as annoying. Contra's jumps were never meant to be as precise as those in Super Mario Bros.

The big addition to Contra III is the overhead stages that take advantage of the Super Nintendo's sprite-scaling mode 7 effects. Your character is centered on the screen and you use the L and R buttons to rotate the screen around you to effectively changed which way you are facing. It is certainly interesting and novel, but I don't think it is handled with as much care as the side-scrolling stages. I like that they are breaking up the action, but I think I prefer the behind-the-shoulder base stages from the original Contra.

I'm currently stuck on the wall-walker boss in level 3. I have to assume I'm just being dumb about it and next time I play, I'll be able to hit him while his eye is open without taking damage.

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