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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Game Boy
GENRE: Adventure
PLAYERS:   1-2
November 07, 2002
Hard Corps: Uprising

Hard Corps: Uprising

Contra ReBirth

Contra 4

Super C

More in this Series
 Written by John Scalzo  on August 09, 2002

First Impressions: Giant mosquitoes. Check. Flame thrower. Check. Let's go!

Pound for pound the first twelve months of the Super Nintendo's life cycle produced more classic games than a similar time period for any console before or since. One of those games was Contra III: The Alien Wars, the game that brought perfection to the Contra series and with the exception of Contra: Hard Corps was the last great Contra game before Konami flushed the series down the toilet. Now, ten years later Konami is trying to bring respect back to the Contra franchise. Shattered Soldier is looking very good as it nears it's November release for the PlayStation 2. And just in case you forgot about the Contra series, Konami is bringing its greatest triumph to that mini-Super Nintendo, the Game Boy Advance, by the name of Contra Advance.

More than a mere port, Contra Advance is an almost exact recreation of Contra III: The Alien Wars. Placing the two side by side reveals only one slight change in the graphics. In the original Contra III, you were able to carry two guns that were shown by their icons in the upper left corner of the screen along with your number of remaining lives. The two-gun option was removed from Contra Advance so the second gun icon was removed from the corner of the screen as well. Other than that and a slightly tweaked soundtrack, this is an exact replica of Contra III. In no way is that a bad thing.

Contra III is the pinnacle of the series. A perfect marriage of the classic Contra gameplay and several new ideas. The plot of a Contra game was never very important but Contra Advance at least gives it the old college try. The alien menace Red Falcon has invaded Earth with his army. Destroying most cities and transforming the rest of the world into his grotesque alien hive. Contra III's simple story was really just a front for the incredibly hard adventure you had to undertake Rambo-style to destroy Red Falcon. It was not for the weak fingered. To this day Contra III is one of the hardest games ever created, only being bested by a few games in that category with it's sequel, Contra: Hard Corps among them. And the Game Boy Advance has captured almost all of this.

Besides the option to carry a second gun, the only piece of Contra III that is missing are the two overhead levels. Created using the Super NES's "Mode 7" graphics processor, the levels are being scrapped by Konami and two new side-scrolling levels will take their place. Neither of these levels have been shown in motion yet, but several screens have been released to give us some idea of what they look like. The first appears to be a level played across a runaway train and the second looks to take place inside an abandoned factory. Both levels also look to be following the lead of Contra: Shattered Soldier by including a lot of robotic enemies, including one boss that would make The Terminator squeal in terror. Thankfully, my favorite part of the game, toasting giant mosquitoes with the flamethrower is still there in the third level. If you can get that far.

The world of Contra Advance requires you to be quick on the trigger finger. The rule is: shoot everything that moves and a few things that don't. Just looking over all of the objectives of the first level again is enough to make a novice sweat and an old school gamer smile. First you have to shoot all the aliens and mutant dogs. Then jump into the tank to destroy two enemy bases. After that, work your past flames shooting out of the ground and destroy an alien tank. Next you watch as the ground is fire bombed by plane, so you have to hang from power lines to stay out of the flames. All the while shooting more aliens that want to make you a Crispy McHuman. Finally you reach the end where you're greeted by a screen filling mutant turtle that breathes fire, shoots giant maggots out of it's chest and has a gun turret on top of the shell. If you need a partner, fear not, Konami has promised a two player link cable option. Trust me you're going to need it.

Final Thoughts
Contra Advance is shaping up very nicely. Back in the day Contra III was one of my favorite games as I was both frustrated and overjoyed at how incredibly hard it was. Rumor has it Konami may even include a save feature. Either way, Contra fans won't be disappointed and everyone else looking for a Game Boy Advance action game has found it.

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