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Retro Fire

Written: 11.13.08
Acquired: 5.31.06
Status: Cart only
Price: $10

Pub: KonamiApril '92
Dev: Konami8 MEGS

In the dying days of the 8-bit Nintendo, the SNES hype train was roaring along faster than even the Shinkansen; not just by the months and weeks but seemingly by the days and hours. And every Nintendo geek had their own specific game they wanted to see through the wonders of 16-bit. Mario, Zelda, Gradius, Metroid, Castlevania, Mega Man, the list goes on and on. But for yours truly, and many others, CONTRA was right at the top of
that highly esteemed list
An epic box art cover if I ever saw one!

And commando-wannabe geeks everywhere in the good ol' US of A saw their wish come true when Contra III: The Alien Wars was unleashed in April of '92. Yet ironically, it would take me nearly FIFTEEN years later until I could finally call it my own. My SNES rebirth so to speak in January 2006 wasn't merely a resurrection... it was also a chance at gaming redemption


While many kids grew up on Mario in the mid-late 1980's, and don't get me wrong -- I liked the Italian plumber too, it was really Konami's CONTRA that cemented me as a video game fan for life. There was something real and very cool about being a machine gun-strapped soldier, blasting alien chunks set over some highly atmospheric levels with some of the best and most memorable video game bosses of all time. Plus, perhaps the best thing about it: you could do it with a buddy. When my brother Kevin and I discovered Contra at a rental store in 1988, we fell in love with it. Uncle Jimmy, who then recently moved in with his wife and just had his first born son, David, also fell prey to the wonders of this game. And I can recall many a night where the three of us rotated turns per level
with aid of the infamous Konami "30 MEN" code. Uncle Jimmy was so young 20 years ago. Before he had his bad back, before Father Time came a-callin'... he was so energetic and vibrant, and full of night, and life. A part of me can't believe it's now been over 20 years since the three of us stayed up late, huddled around the small Sony TV, taking turns saving the universe. Life happens so fast, doesn't it. But alas, once more I digress. Contra was an awesome two-player game; it had it all. Great graphics, sound, gameplay and it had something even greater: that ever-tricky IT factor. Whatever IT was, or is, Contra had IT. This is not a case of looking back with rose-tinted glasses -- the 8-bit NES conversion still stands up remarkably well to this day, even twenty years after its release

From the very first level, that memorable jungle romp, you knew you were in for some kind of treat. Contra conjured quite the intense, boom-in-your-face atmosphere that very few others could. And it paved the way for future run and gun greats like Metal Slug and Gunstar Heroes. It did a lot for gaming, and richly deserves its lofty spot in gaming history. Contra was really my first love, and I have it to thank for the passion I developed for video games. Thank you, Konami, you bastards
                                                  In the jungle the lion sleeps... TO-NIGHT  [... -Ed.]

Though ironically, as much as we loved beating the game over and over, Uncle Jimmy never did buy it for us. We rented it several times, and a close friend of ours loaned us his copy in exchange of Legendary Wings, a fair trade if there ever was one...  ;)

So perhaps it's fitting I never owned Contra III back in the day either. Though to be perfectly honest, I never played
it extensively until very recently. My old friend Tommy had a copy that I'd play here and there back in '92, but mostly, whenever I came over then, I always arrived just in time to see our mutual friends Brian and Bo playing on level 3. It's
a memory that's stuck, and perhaps why level 3 is my favorite level of all. So yeah, it's all a bit strange that I didn't jump at Contra III back then despite it being at the top of my most wanted list. I guess one reason why -- Uncle Jimmy moved out in the Spring of '92 when his wife was pregnant for the second time... the same time Contra III came out -- maybe I thought it just wouldn't be the same without him by our side, hooting, hollering and having a good old time. Whatever the reasons were, last month I decided it was time to finally right a 16-year wrong.
So, without further ado...

By the way, special thanks to Rey and Opi of VGMUSEUM.com fame. Most of the pictures
from levels 2-6 come courtesy of them (and then of course, modified by moi)

Lastly, for a more in-depth look at the NES classic, see Commemorating Contra.

[Without further ado my ass -Ed.]

Shush. Sheesh. Okay... NOW, without further ado...


"Here we are again bro... just you and me

Same kind of moon same kind of jungle...

Real number 10 remember... whole platoon, 32 men chopped into meat... we walk out just you and me, nobody else. Right on top huh? Not a scratch... not a fuckin' scratch. You know whoever got you, they'll come back again. And when he does I'm gonna cut your name right into him... swear to God I will


The year was 1987. In
an undisclosed location in Central America, a special task force was called in to take care of mysterious enemies that hid in the dense and dark jungle. The soldiers assumed it was yet another typical mission but tragically, it was anything but

                                                                "Roger one, we got that, OVER"

The band of soldiers searched the jungle but found no traces of the enemy, only the bones of the unlucky. At nightfall they split up in several mini-camps, keeping guard. As the men huddled around, an ominous chill filled the raw night air. A soldier's sixth sense is well developed, and one in particular, Bill Rizer, knew something big was about to go down. His long time partner, Lance Bean, watched as the full moon continue its steady climb in the sky...
.... when, at its zenith, the bloodshed began

The soldiers were savagely attacked. All order and control went right out the window as many fled for their very lives. The vile creatures knew the jungle inside and out. The men were mice trapped in a snake's cage. One by one, they were picked off by this invisible threat. The soldiers who did steal a glance saw a sight far too horrible for words

                                                                     Outnumbered, outgunned....

Gunfire and screams of terror filled the jungle. The enemy was too fast, too smart and too cunning for the men to overcome. Those who stood their ground and fought head-on were ripped apart, those who fled were gunned down and those who hid were hunted and swiftly destroyed

"WHAT THE -- ! ...."

The men were fighting against an enemy not of this earth. It attacked with an unrelenting fury; this force, this thing that lived inside of them came from a source too VIOLENT, too DEADLY for you to imagine. It grew inside them, contaminating their souls. And now these alien invaders have come to Earth... to kill

                                                                   In Memory of Stan Winston

Miraculously, two strong soldiers not only survived the menace, but they destroyed it!

Bill Rizer code named Mad Dog...

                                                               ... and Lance Bean, AKA Scorpion

                                                                               "MY GOD..."

The blast was so great that even the men, flying in from several cities over, could see it

"Jesus Christ..."

"Jesus ain't got nothing to do with this"

"And we're supposed to somehow KILL THAT?!"

"If it bleeds, we can kill it. No sweat"

"I see you sweatin' from over here!"

                                                                 "I AIN'T GOT TIME TO SWEAT"

The final war is at hand... WINNER KEEPS ALL!


And you sure need a whole lot of it!  Thankfully, now even your default gun is autofire. Some old favorites, like the classic spread gun returns, along with some new updated weapons thanks to the advent of the 1990's (or the 27th century, I s'pose). You also have one powerful M-80,000 Helio Bomb per life to blow the aliens to Kingdom Come!

Now your pea shooter ain't THAT bad. Laser, while slow, packs a mighty wallop

Glad to see the spread gun back, but in my view
it was much more FTW
in the NES game. The homing missiles definitely come in handy, though weak compared to others

                                                 [NONSENSE!  Spread ALWAYS equal FTW....  -Ed.]

This is quite a powerful weapon, especially when you have it in both hands

But I personally like the other guns much better

The flame thrower is very useful against certain enemies, and it earns cookie points for looking so damn cool

                                                Plus it fries one hell of a marshmallow lemme tell ya

One of the leaps truly is now the ability to carry two different
weapons at once!  How many times have you wanted to wield
both the spread and laser shot in the NES version but couldn't?
Now you can!  Plus, when you hold onto L and R, fire the trigger
button to shoot both weapons at once like a mad man!  Genius!


Where were you back in 1992?  Do you remember the first time you fired the game up and anticipated the 16-bit wonders ahead? This stage set the stage!

Mission: Terminate all alien invaders and rogues at any cost

                                                                       ... but I got some alien chunks to blow!"

That car blowing up was such a cool sight back in '92... still is

Weapon Wings appear high in the skies just like in the original and must be shot down. The great thing here is you can switch to your other gun, nab that spread shot and have that as your second gun. When you feel like you might die, switch to the less effective gun. That way, when you come back, you still have the good one. Nice!  And there we see the smart bomb in its first phase of action. Players get one smart bomb per life. Unfortunately for you, they do not serve as invincible barriers so even a momentary lapse in attention can prove fatal. Smart bombs expand in a massive destructive arc and are best saved for the humongous end level guardians. The closer you are when you unleash this devastating force the better, as the victim will receive more damage from that extra bit of prolonged exposure

Watch out for these sucker guns bursting from out of the ground. And be sure to watch your back for incoming guards

They're sort of like the turrets in the jungle from NES Contra

Enemies come leaping out of windows much like a beat 'em up

Just another cool little set-piece and we're hardly a quarter through Neo City!  One thing nobody can deny regarding Contra III is the insane amount of gnarly explosions it had. Playing it does conjure some feelings and memories of watching a summer blockbuster with your buds from days long ago...

[Ahhh, those carefree innocent summer days... -Ed.]

                When things get hot
                and heavy here, it's
                wise to take the high
                road so to speak, as
                the baddies litter the
                ground like dirty rats
                scurrying for a meal.
                Now you can rather
                easily pick 'em off!

                                                                  So much for "Man's Best Friend" eh?

Another advantage over the old NES game was the ability to hold your ground while shooting in any of the eight directions. So now you can fire away anywhere you wish without having to worry about changing your position one iota!  God Bless the extra buttons of the SNES pad. The shoulder buttons made this feel very natural

"Too bad they forgot to give you a BRAIN!"

                                    What a great nod to fans of the NES game from the folks at Konami

Amen brother!  600 years later and they still haven't patched that up!

Who could ever forget the very first classic boss from NES Contra?  It was *SO* huge that it blew my little five-year-old mind away back in '88. Talk about one imposing structure! Now it was a lot easier to kill than it looked, but it's got to be one of the most memorable level one bosses of all time. From the lone red sniper up
top to the funky looking gumballs it spewed out, and the cool looking hi-techy weak point square cover at the base there, man, Konami knew just HOW TO WORK IT

                                                  One of the coolest looking level one bosses EVER

And while it was a lot more
intimidating in the original, it
was still nice to see this base
make a comeback. And since
it's not a boss, one can see
why it's a much smaller model
than its big brother classic

I love when companies acknowledge
their prequels by resurrecting some
of the more memorable baddies. It
gives the sequel a certain touch of
class and "history"


Another satisfying explosion. Gotta love the flash-flash. Simply classic stuff

                                                                 TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES!

[Say a prayer, but let the good
times roll

In case God doesn't shoooow...

And I want these words to make things right...

... but it's the wrongs that make
the words come to life

"Who does he think he is?"

If that's the worst you got, better
put your fingers back to the keys!

One night, and ONE MORE TIME!
Tanks for the memories, TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES! 
Even though they weren't so great... ahem... -Ed.]

Some Weapon Wings contain a Barrier Shield, which conveniently turns red as it's
about to expire. It doesn't last very long so get a move on

Some six-armed mutant freak?  A three-eyed dragon? 

Nope, just a tank and a foot soldier reject. Kind of a wasted opportunity here at a really cool mid-boss but it's all good. This
guy's OK and kind of a throwback to another Contra baddie...

Remember this heavy-duty tank rumbling toward ya in level 5 of NES Contra?

[How could I, it killed
my guy every gawd
damn time!  -Ed.]

Well then you weren't the only one...

Some shades of that nightmare-inducing tank no?  Too bad Jimbo doesn't have his own tank here as well. That would have been something else!

                                                          "COME ON YOU FOOT CLAN REJECT!"

Difference is... this tank was BRUTALLY HARD...

... and this one's not. It doesn't attempt to bowl you over unlike the other tank, and harmlessly shoots missiles that conveniently sails over your head. He's toast in no time flat

                                                          "Seriously bro, the TechnoDrome's THAT-A-WAY!!"

"Now who would be stupid enough to say something like that?"

Luckily the missiles won't harm you, but the ensuing fire from the explosion can!

                                        Too bad so sad Jimbo... most gamers agree that this is a HUGE

My friends, this TRULY was. We knew gaming had just LEVELED UP!

                                                                 WELCOME TO 16-BIT, BISHES!

This ain't your Uncle Jimmy's Contra!

                                                             The Homing Gun works wonders here

This whole section really did blow our minds back in 1992

                                        Thank goodness for those upper-body weight training sessions!

Amazing to think... this is only the first level still...

At last you reach the end section. You knew it was boss time. You just didn't know who or WHAT. But knowing Konami... you knew you wouldn't be let down...

                                                        "Come out come out wherever you are..."

"Come out and play..."

                                                                            "WHAT THE -- !"

Konami, never one to disappoint, certainly didn't here. It's the giant mutant turtle monster BEAST KIMKOH!  And shit, I thought the
first boss from NES Contra was impressive!  This guy simply takes the cake. A true terror and wonder in every respect of the word, especially how realistically it seemed to twitch and pulsate... sick!

One of the best looking level one bosses EVER

Watch out for that horrible long neck of his. He also sends out blue bullets at ya from God only knows where...

                                                     Er, at least I think it's a HE... [You check -Ed.]

But every boss, no
matter how big, ugly
or menacing, has a
weak point. And for
Beast Kimkoh it's his
exposed crimson red
pulsating heart!  Ha,
what a dummy

[I'm gonna tell Kimkoh you said that -Ed.]

     The giant monster will
     also heave mutated
     maggots, which if not
     killed right away, will
     slither away on the
     ground... yuck

                                                             Gotta dig the maggots -- great touch

When he's pissed like such, make sure you take the top platform

That way you can avoid both his fire-breath blast as well as the bullets. But on the ground?  You'd be screwed because it cancels out the option of jumping. Ahhhh. You develop life-saving strategies as you go along and learn the finer points of the game, ace!

                                                              Where's Godzilla when ya need 'im?

When Beast Kimkoh dies, he REALLY dies!  Talk about putting on a show. You can go straight for his heart or blow his lid up top off first if ya like. Doing the latter will prevent him from launching those oversized bugs at you, but going straight for the heart will lead to this a whole lot quicker. Personally, I like having him suffer a slow, painful death ;)

*YAWN* Just another regular ole day at the Contra office eh

        Kimkoh was such a great
        design and moved about
        so convincingly that you're
        almost sad to see it finally
        die... but you also couldn't
        wait to see the horrors that
        lied ahead...

                                                                         "ONE DOWN... FIVE TO GO!"

John Woo would be so proud


With Neo City swept and cleared of all villains, it's off to the Maria Calderon Highway. Who exactly she is we don't know but it's a cool name, for a highway anyhow. Now things are viewed from
a top-down perspective. Your goal is to eliminate five Red Corporals hiding in domed manholes.
All the while overgrown insects and mad guards hunt you down through this maze of elevated roadway and bridges

[I once met a ho -- housewife -- named Maria Calderon... -Ed.]

  Flamethrower should
  definitely be one of
  your two guns here. It
  doesn't matter which
  order you take the five
  Red Corporals out in,
  and at the beginning
  they even let you pick
  the spot you wish to
  start off at, nice

                                               Remind anyone else of LOADED?  Vice versa actually..

When playing the 2-Player Mode A, you get this split screen for this overhead level. However, if you wish to play this stage in a single screen, select 2-Player Mode B. It's the little things that help make a game (extra) special...

I prefer 2-Player Mode B myself

Level 2 in Contra III reminds me a bit of level 2 from NES Contra. It's different from the traditional side-scrolling stages. Not very many prefer them to the good ol' side-scrollers, but they are decent diversions to lend the game some variety. Interestingly enough, just as there were two of these "into the screen" levels, there's two overhead levels in Contra III. Coincidence?

                                      The overhead levels grew on me; I like 'em better than these ones

This mechanical spider-esque menace spins high above you before it comes crashing down. Keep moving to avoid being squashed like an ant

HINT: Each time it descends, the red spot rotates 90° from its last position

The flamethrower is a gem as it can reach the eye without being centered
on; remember, it can go through objects to reach an enemy('s weak point)!

                                       The very potent laser gun also works well against the Metallican

Shame on ya, Sully..


Ah, the good ole Cyber Steel Mill. My favorite level in the game. It also helps that I remember seeing this DAMN stage EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' time I headed over to Tommy's house back in '92. And always, it was the brothers Brian and Bo going at it,
as I watched on to see if they could do it. I just love the atmosphere this stage brings.
Those dark smoggy skies, the brown depressing colors... playing this level particularly
on a dark afternoon with thunderclouds lingering in the sky is unbelievably SURREAL!

The evil forces of Red Falcon have taken over the last remaining functional steel factory
in Neo City. New weapons are manufactured here and the aliens also use it as a landing
pad for arriving allies. Back in the 20th century, the elders once said if you watch the
skies enough, you will catch a glimpse of THEM. Here you'll catch a lot more than you bargained for!  Be sure to equip yourself with a flamethrower -- you're gonna need it...

You see!?  These Gigaflies would love nothing more than to take you back to their nest
for a grand feast!  Their weakness: man's "oldest" discovery. BURN BABY BURN!

Say hello to ole Chrome Dome, and I'm not talking about the villain from the Ninja Turtles. He's a cinch with the flamethrower as you can reach him from there. Otherwise you gotta grab hold of his "arms" and shoot his red eye as you go around in circles. Once killed, he'll flip his arms wildly in one last ditch effort to take you down to hell with him!

With a bud, you can cover both sides with the flamethrower -- nice

Far be it for Konami to
let you have a nice and
easy climb, no, another
mid-boss terror comes
right after you. Shoot
down those missiles

                                            Chrome Dome's cousin: the Tri-Transforming Wall Walker

Save it, son. The git is invulnerable in this "stalking state"

                                         The flamethrower, man!  No wonder I love this level so much..

That's right buddy. Stand in the searchlight why don't cha!

Geez, how many "mini-bosses" litter the cyber mill?!  Did I mention how much I love this level?  [No, I don't think you
have yet -Ed.]

                                                            "I LIKE MY WINGS NICE AND FRIED!"

After taking out several corporal guards and bringing down the security door, you find yourself on the inside. This is a fun little vertically scrolling section; a bit reminiscent of the Waterfall stage
from NES Contra. These Mutant Megasquito dudes also remind me of the winged baddies coming from the "Transformers" boss (stage 4, NES Contra). I used to call them "Eagle Men" as
a little kid. I gotta say, Mutant Megasquito sure sounds a whole hell lot more intimidating!  Watch out for those pesky turrets as well. I love this bit. It's a shame it's very short though. Jumping onto those spinning rotors to catch a lift makes it much more fun than simply jumping in the Waterfall stage. If only this were 3 screens as high...

Oh well, still plenty good stuff here, and certainly more ahead...

Running out of the pod, the wretched flock swoops down on our hero... like lambs to the slaughter!

                                                             God Bless the "lock" button indeed

Uh oh... glancing through the opening, you see clear as day what lies up ahead.
There's no turning back now Jimbo...

WHOA!  Whew, they appear to be duds. Still, unlike the idiot in every gawd damn movie who approaches the enemy to check if it's really dead, you instead prepare to shoot it from afar JUST
to make sure...

They're named BOB 1 and BOB 2... no kidding

Hmmm, any relation to B.O.B. whatsoever?  By the way, solid little SNES adventure that game is

But yeah, they kinda *DO* look alike...

                                             "I'm the real B.O.B. and I do NOT approve this message"

AH-HA!  The evil robots spring to life and the war is waged. This is one of the coolest boss fights I've ever seen. And one of the most satisfying bosses to kill. Once disposed of both BOBs (remember their torso-only bit?)... it ain't quite over yet...

Double your pain, double your fun

Uh oh... you knew it couldn't be THAT easy, and you were right!  [I always am -Ed.]



I have fond memories of watching Brian and Bo tackle this titantic tin of terror. Back in '92 this literally blew our minds and EVEN today it still impresses. Who needs fancy polygons when 2D can look this nice and evocative?

You think about the most memorable and classic sights from gaming history that you'll still fondly recall 20 years from now, and this is probably one of them. If this didn't move you in any way, shape
or form when you first witnessed it, please turn in your gamer card now

ROBO-CORPSE -- where's ROBOCOP when ya need him?!

Robo-Breath fires homing lasers from his eyes and also does one mean Godzilla impersonation. What a perfect boss...
it was gorgeous, yet grotesque!

                                                          "Hey buddy, ever heard of LISTERINE?"

Pelting him like no tomorrow is utterly satisfying, watching his whole body flash and waiting til the last possible second to get the hell outta dodge. Climb to the top, drop down and repeat. It was intense, and it was epic. Konami FTW again

This is what gaming's all about, folks

When Robo-Corpse bites the dust, he REALLY bites the dust!  The very thing that gave
him "life" so to speak is the same thing that swipes his head clean off... a fitting end to
an unforgettable boss encounter. Konami were freakin' maestros in this domain, bar none

"Would you like Gigafries with that?"


No rest for the wicked, but thankfully you're able to give your weary legs a break as you leap aboard a hovering motorcycle (like the speeder bikes from RETURN OF THE JEDI). Psycho Cyclers attempt to cut your quest short with a few well-placed grenades

Firing off rounds of molten death in a wide wave, Spread works well here

You'll be attacked both on the ground and in the air. Thankfully you can leap above your motorcycle and not worry about becoming roadkill -- they will automatically move under you because of their advanced rider-tracking system. It makes for one intense, fast-moving, action-packed level

                                                Stay to the far left and beware those Jetpack snipers

A gigantic battleship flies just above you as it rains down laser blast after laser blast. Lock your position and let 'er rip! Later, a bomb is dropped that engulfs the entire road, so make sure to time your jump well. One split nanosecond off and you're fried

Later you'll blast your way through hordes of parachuting alien scum

This strange-looking mid-boss can be somewhat unpredictable, swinging his legs around wildly and even charging our hero. Make short work of him, or his pattern seems to get even more erratic

This is probably my least favorite (mid)boss from the game. I'm sure they could have came up with a better design than this, but it's a minor gripe in a game full of memorable nasties

                                                                   Talk about having fire in your eye...

After catching a lift on a helicopter, Slash comes to greet ya. He's pretty tough, attacking with a sword and throwing shuriken-like blades

I really hate this guy, HATE him

This extreme stage ends rather fittingly with this Battleship boss fight. The only thing Jimbo can hang onto here are the giant missiles speeding toward the Battleship, so don't hang onto one for too long! The two turrets must be dismantled first before the protective shield barrier can be lifted. From there, blast away at the center engine core. This is a really tough battle, and one you improve at with repeated play, making it all the more rewarding when you finally "perfect" it. It's all worth it...

                                         Not even Chuck Norris HIMSELF is man enough to handle this

... is right. Another epic boss battle in the books, folks

                                                     Hmmm, I smell some dissension in the ranks...


The Mucho Grande Badlands (what a funky name) is a return in concept to level two's
Maria Calderon Highway. Players must gun down five enemy entrances while avoiding mutated insects and crossing precariously thin strips
of land and collapsing bridges

Once more, you may choose your entry point

                                               Watch your rear to make sure no bug sneaks up on ya

Shifting sand ain't bad -- it's the swirly ones I hate!

                                         Use the shoulder buttons to adjust the screen and take it slow

On Easy, with the laser, he can be finished in literally under 10 seconds. On Hard... YEAH. Good luck with that

The swirling sand makes Scorpabellum VERY frustrating on Hard

                                                            JIMBO: The Lone Planetary Defender


This is it. The last stand. The final whistle. It all comes down to this. Can you make it through to
the neuro-center of Red Falcon's malevolent being without being crushed like a bug?  Stock up on those smart bombs...

Many foul creatures await you here

Who could ever forget this monstrosity from the NES game?  Heh, I used to call him the "Long Neck Alien Monster."  My brother, Uncle Jimmy and I loved killing this guy, and I always fought with my brother for the control pad here. When I think of Contra, this parasite here is always the very first bad guy that comes to mind. He blew our minds back in '88 and he wasn't EVEN
a boss!  Simply amazing design with just the right shade of demonic red. Those large orange shrimp baddies he spewed out had me boycotting eating shrimp for a good while too!  Remember how you stood at the edge of that wretched pillar there, blasting away at his jaw while your buddy took care of the shrimp? I know you do. I know I do. There are video game enemies you remember for life. This is one of 'em

                                          Awesome mini-boss. They don't make 'em like they used to!

  In a true nod to the fans if there ever was one, Konami resurrected the nasty Para-Slug for Contra III, once more serving as Red Falcon's "mini-boss" terror in the alien's lair. He's not quite as intimidating and menacing as his first appearance was, but he still looks f*ckin' awesome

The Para-Slug succumbs to the flamethrower in mere seconds

Speaking of knowing and appreciating one's history, remember the last stage in the NES game?  That decrepit alien lair littered with scorpion-spiders and abominable parasites?

                                                        Konami must have loved the ALIEN films

Well it's very similar here -- only 10 times more intense!

Here's another classic sight that has burned itself into the hearts of retro gamers everywhere. It's the final boss from NES Contra, that vile beating heart of Red Falcon!  Players could go straight for the heart, but where's the fun in that?  No, in order to glean the most satisfaction Uncle Jimmy, my brother and I always started out with the four pods. After all, those scorpion-spiders gotta pay, right?  Then it's all over but the shouting,
with the beating heart left defenseless. Nothing quite satisfied like pumping that organ full of lead until it exploded unmercifully! Ahhh, just thinking of it warms the heart (no pun intended). Really hard to fathom it's already been 20+ years doesn't it?

                                                     Over twenty years of Contra memories... damn

Like the Para-Slug, it's BACK!  And also 10 times as intense. How many of you thought this was the final boss back in 1992? Nope, it turned out it was only the second of FOUR mini-bosses!

Gotta love Konami reviving these old classic bosses

                                                       I love how the heart flashes with each bullet

Even better an explosion than in
the 8-bit game, you thought at first
you had beaten the game but it was
only beginning. Man, you thought to
yourself, what else more could they
throw at us?!

And just up ahead the sinister path, you got your answer

Now THAT'S what I call a heart attack  [Tsk tsk -Ed.]

Suddenly the landscape changes to an even more rotten state, and the ground rumbles
and shakes... out comes a horrible creature like the ones you've seen on the big screen!

He's easier than he looks though. When he rushes you, be ready to jump onto his spider-like legs. You can even catch a lift up top. When he lets his guard down, aim for his face and don't hold back


The fourth and final mini-boss, the Vicious Slave Hawk, can be a bit of a bitch if you don't have the flamethrower

                                                            He's Red Falcon's final line of defense

Sometimes pictures are worth a thousand words. This is one of those times. What a spectacular sight for sore eyes, though sadly, his second form
is far less memorable

Simply unforgettable

His second form is just a ho-hum brain that chooses from one of eight different options to use at a time

                                            They're not all destructive either; one provides power-ups

Here are but a few examples of his offensive attacks. This one here is a simple bouncing eyeball attack. Not quite as cool as its first form, but the Russian Roulette manner is pretty neat... never know what you'll get

"I seeee you..."

               I like this one. It's got a nice
               look. He moves pretty fast
               so don't get too greedy in
               shooting him down. Pick
               your spots and move along
               accordingly with him so you
               don't get squashed!

                                                                       "Oh damn, it's DEFINITELY a male..."

This is another nice one. Kinda looks like a sinister starfish

I hope you like brain soup!

WOO HOO you saved
the universe -- job well
done, solider. Now...

                                                                But wait a second... what's this...


                                                                                OH SNAPS!

In typical classic sci-fi/horror movie style, the bad guy comes back for one last push. This only happens on Hard, and it is only on Hard that you can get the "real" ending


                                    Thanks to your efforts, peace and prosperity returns to the universe

A time for change indeed... here's to a better tomorrow

                      Some lovely black
                      and white photos
                      are shown in the
                      real ending

                                                        "Jimbo, let's blow his brains out!"  [HA HA HA -Ed.]

Well done, mates

Mad Dog and Scorpion would have been proud


Don't bother looking for the infamous Konami code in the US version of Contra III, it doesn't exist. If you really want to cheat, and I could understand why -- the game's blasted difficult as heck on Normal or higher, then you'll need
a Game Genie on ya

Up up, down down, LEFT RIGHT OUTTA THE GAME!

Game Genie Cheats:

Infinite Lives (on side-scrolling levels):  22BB-AD01
Infinite Lives (on top-down levels):  22BB-6F0B + 6DBB-64DB
Infinite Bombs (on side-scrolling levels):  2264-D760
Infinite Bombs (on top-down levels):  22B8-0766

Remember, you can apply more than one at a time. It's the only way I can beat Hard  ;-p


The Super Famicom version
is titled Contra Spirits and has
a 30 lives code, but not done in
the traditional Konami fashion

Unlike some US versions, such
as Super Castlevania IV, not
much has been censored to the
best of my knowledge. The US
effort is by and large the exact
same game as the Japanese
one, except the US version is
a bit more difficult to say the
least. Contra Spirits gives you
infinite continues, plus you can
see the real ending on Normal,
not Hard as it is with Contra III

The cover is infamous for sporting
a very striking Arnold look-alike!

For a change, the US cover's actually 10 times better


The Brits call it "(Super) Probotector"

                                                          It's still relatively the same exact game...

... except the heroes are robots rather than brave commandos!


And what's that, playa?

                                                                            Yeah, that works


Throughout gaming's history we have bear witness to some amazing, mind-blowing bosses. Demons and monsters that ruled our living room, and left us speechless upon sight, and utterly pleased as we watched 'em crumble after a hard-fought battle. Indeed, few companies knew the art of boss-making as Konami did. They knew just how to spark your imagination, and really brought the enemies and end level guardians to the third dimension... to real life. Never have I played a game where we talked about the bosses as much as we did with Contra. Sometimes gruesome, always awe-inspiring. Killing them always left a smile on your face, and if you were crazy like me, you even shared "war stories" about it with your friends as though it were
a genuine badge of honor. They were THAT good

Who could forget the Demon that guarded the top of the Waterfalls?

Thankfully, Contra III continued Konami's masterful execution of featuring bosses that made us quiver in our seat, even if we didn't admit it to our friends. From the very first sight
of the very first boss,
that menacing mutated snapping turtle, bursting out of the bloody walls and pulsating all over the place like a spazzed druggie, you knew two things. One, you would never forget the image. And two, Konami still had it. They still had that magic touch. The first thing that comes to my mind whenever someone mentions Konami, are the many memorable bosses the firm has produced over the years, and Contra III is chock full of 'em!

                                                             MUTAGEN GONE REALLY WRONG!

The "Transformers" boss from NES Contra was a hell of a sight...

                                             "I'VE GOT BETTER THINGS TO DO TONIGHT THAN DIE"

Yeah?  What do you think?  Pretty damn similar I say..

                                              ... as well as these guys were... but nothing quite like...

... the jaw-dropping, senses-shattering ROBO-CORPSE!


Contra III: The Alien Wars was destined for instant classic status the moment it hit game stores nationwide back in good ole 1992. Fans of the previous games and game reviewers everywhere ate it up. To this day, with as many Contra incarnations as there are, many still cite Contra III as being the very best Contra game of all. Mighty high praise indeed, considering the franchise had more than its fair share of stellar games

  • EGM: 9, 9, 9, 9
  • Super Play: 90%

#8 on EGM's Top 100 Greatest Games List issue #100  (Nov. 1997)


You know, when I initially had a chance to REALLY sit down with this game,
I didn't nearly like it as much as I did the NES one. I just felt it was missing something that the charming NES version possessed. But the more
I played Contra III, the more I came to truly appreciate it. With every play through, the gap narrowed until, by God, I found myself loving it more than the NES version. At first, I didn't get all the hype. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but I didn't go apeshit over it as some of my buds did. I talked to some of them about my early impressions of Contra III and they told me to stick with it. 10 hours of gameplay time later, I was in love. I had improved incrementally as the hours flew by, and I came to see firsthand why this game kicks ass


From the very start players enter a post apocalyptic war-torn universe overran with alien forces. From blowing up cars and towers, to hitching rides on tanks and getting through a flame-engulfed section, the stage is set beautifully for one epic and intense action fest. The graphics are often impressive and at times, they are TRULY spectacular. The music is brilliant, with an excellent mixture of metallic guitars and big orchestral pieces. It's not quite the masterful soundtrack as Konami's other hit SNES title Super Castlevania IV, but it's right up there, with loud explosions that will make you cheer in your seat as you blow away the alien forces chunk by bloody chunk. The sampled grunts and screams work and the overall effect is a sonic feast. It REALLY is everything you hoped 16-bit Contra would be... and even, perhaps more
                                                 "I'M KINDA BUSY OVER HERE MYSELF, SULLY!"

But the best thing about Contra III is the same quality that made the first Contra so damn good. Crisp, smooth and intense action that lets you run and gun with a buddy. There's something really cool (and fun) about strapping on your boots, teaming with a pal, and taking on the evil forces that outnumber you by hundreds and hundreds. Contra III plays and controls like a dream. There are so many improvements over the NES game, and that was already a great game to begin with!  For starters, the smart bomb brings a certain backpocket security card to the table. Then you have the ability to carry two different weapons at once, so long gone is the "Shit, I like that weapon, but I really prefer the one I have now."  When you die, the current weapon you're holding is gone. In a hairy situation, you can even pause the game
and switch!  That shows you Konami was really thinking, and that extra care by a company is something I always appreciate, in addition to resurrecting old sights and old baddies as they have done here. There's a lot more strategy packed in by far than ever before. And let's not forget about that handy lock-in-position option. Hell, you can even fire two guns at once!  The different difficulty levels cater to players of varying skill. I can beat Easy by myself, but Normal and Hard own me pretty well. At first Easy seems very tough, but you learn key strategies as you persist with the game. You begin to realize how well the levels are mapped out with weapon/power-up allocations, enemies' patterns and positioning, etc. It's got style AND substance

The gameplay is still classic Contra, except now 10 times as intense. My brother and I had the chance to sit down and play this game recently. Uncle Jimmy has long
lost his interest in playing games, so it wasn't quite like how it was some 20 years ago when the three of us used to huddle around the living room TV, taking turns blasting alien scum to Kingdom Come. But in saving the universe once more with my older brother, I saw firsthand EXACTLY why so many people the world over love this game. With two, it's simply an unbeatable experience. I only wish it were a level or two longer. Six is a bit too few for my liking, but what a great six levels they are. The top-down stages have grown on me; spinning around and shooting at anything that so much moves is a total riot. Breath-taking boss battles, memorable mini-bosses, awesome set-pieces, amazing atmosphere, smooth-as-hell run and gun gameplay, impressive graphics and sound to match -- what more could you ask for?  It's a short game, yeah, but I find myself coming back for more, and often. Contra III deserves all the hype it gets. Now if you'll excuse me, I gotta get back to saving the world and blasting me some alien ass. Boo-yah!

A level or two short of perfection, this ain't your Uncle Jimmy's Contra -- it's even better

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9.5
Gameplay: 9.5
Longevity: 9

Overall: 9.5

Double Gold Award

"Thanks for the top
score, mate!"

"Hey, we earned it!"

"I only have one last
thing to say....

... GET TO DA CHOPPA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"