Advance: The Alien Wars
this game was released ten years ago for the Super Nintendo. In the US,
it was called Contra, and in the UK, Probotector.
Contra is a side scrolling 2D shoot-em-up. You take the part of an elite
foot soldier and fight against an alien invasion of Earth. You have an
impressive arsenal of weapons to help you, including a spread gun - fires
in several directions; homing gun - fires homing missiles; crash gun -
fires rounds which explode on impact; and the self-explanatory laser and
flame-thrower guns. You can also acquire a shield which makes you temporarily
invincible. It is also possible to play simultaneously with another player
via a link-up cable.
This port to the GBA includes the original levels, minus the two overhead
sections. They were taken out due to control issues arising from the GBA's
lack of buttons. Instead, they have been replaced with two side-on levels,
taken from Contra: Hard Core, originally released on the SEGA Megadrive.
These two new additions bring the total number of levels up to six.
There are also a few other alterations. You can now only hold one weapon
at a time, as opposed to the original's two, and the smart bomb is missing
altogether. The enemies you encounter also take less hits to destroy.
One advantage of the change in hardware is that there is now no slow down
which used to occasionally plague the original.
Game play involves running, jumping, climbing and shooting your way through
each stage until you reach the level's end boss. Prior to reaching them,
you'll have to overcome numerous enemies, hardware and a midlevel boss.
Occasionally you'll be able to commandeer hardware of your own, such as
a tank or hover bike to aid you. An element of strategy is called for,
both in overcoming the different enemies attack patterns, and in selection
of the most appropriate weapon, as some will be more effective than others.
In Contra, one touch from an enemy or contact with a bullet or missile,
results in your instant death, and there is only one restart point halfway
through a level. Contemporarily speaking, it is remarkable how difficult
this game can be, and shows just how pampered modern gamers are, what
with energy bars and instant saves. To some, the difficulty level may
appear frustrating and it is true that persistence is needed in order
to progress. Overall though, the game play results in a rewarding challenge
with a great deal of satisfaction when you have finally completed a level.
In its day, Contra had some of the best graphics on a 16 bit system, and
still holds up remarkably well today. The backgrounds are colourful and
varied. The enemy and boss designs are excellent; they can be huge in
size as well as imaginative - ranging from monstrous tortoises to giant
robots, to huge mother brains.
Game Rating: 6.0/10
In summary, Contra Advance is challenging and rewarding
to play. It has excellent graphics, two player link-up, and is deaf gamer
friendly. However, the difficulty level may appear frustrating to some.
The game is totally deaf gamer friendly with no important sound effects
Reviewed by Alf