Contra III Script
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- Ay, what's poppin'? It's yer good buddy ContraThreeghettox. Welcome to third part of my Contra retrospective that features a laser-focus on how the series' gameplay has evolved over time. If you're just dropping in and want some more context, peep the description for links to the first two episodes. To summarize, Contra is a series that's all about red-hot white-knuckle balls-to-the-walls action that emphasizes intensity above all else. It accomplishes this with one-hit deaths, infinitely respawning enemies, multiple simultaneous opponents, and powerful weapons that are lost when the player eats shit.
- In 1992, Konami released Contra III: The Alien Wars to the SNES. Unlike its predecessor, Super Contra, Contra III is chock-full of major gameplay enhancements across the board. First off, the player can now pick up and equip two guns at the same time. By pressing the X button, the player can switch between their weapons on the fly. In fact, by holding the Y button to shoot and rapidly pressing the X button, the player can alternate their guns to effectively fire both at the same time, potentially dealing massive damage. Although weapons are still lost upon player death, only the currently equipped weapon is lost, so savvy players can switch to a lesser weapon in dangerous situations to avoid losing their best gun. This mechanic significantly enhances the series' gameplay by allowing the player greater flexibility and also introducing a slight risk vs. reward trade-off. Using your best weapon may make you more likely to fight your way through tough sections but at the same time you probably want to save it for bosses, so the player is constantly making tough choices about which weapon to use. Lastly, by holding the L and R buttons simultaneously, your character will brandish both guns at the same time. Pressing the shoot button will cause your character to jump and spray their guns all around them. While this looks cool, it's actually useless, so it's mainly good for doing a celebratory dance after beating a boss.
- Next up, holding the R button will now lock the player's character in place, allowing them to freely aim in 8 directions without moving. In previous Contras, aiming diagonally would force the player to move, making it tricky to hit enemies above or below the player in certain situations. Now, the player has far greater control over their guns. Additionally, the player can now shoot directly down, whereas in previous entries they were forced to jump and aim down, as holding down without movement lock forces the player into a prone state. This advancement makes the gameplay even tighter because it eliminates the possibility of the player dying on accident because they were forced to move while aiming.
- Contra III's last major advancement is the ability for your character to climb on walls or hang from ceilings or pipes. If the player jumps onto a grabbable section, they will automatically start hanging. The player is free to move while hanging, but they're locked in place while shooting because their off-hand is currently grabbing the background. They can also jump while hanging, which is essential for evasion while in this state. This mechanic not only adds variety to the player's locomotion, but it also allows for stages that can scroll vertically outside of level gimmicks like elevators.
- Contra III also features a minor advancement in that it's the first game in the series to feature difficulty settings. The game can be played on Easy, Normal, or Hard mode, and Hard mode is a real ball-buster that will truly put Contra veterans to the test. Not only does it beef up boss health, but it also features even more intense waves of enemies, and the first stage especially is transformed into a gauntlet of death that will have the player pulling their hair out before they can even make it to a mini-boss. Also, the number of lives can be independently modulated between 3, 5, or 7 lives per continue, adding another layer of difficulty customization. Unlike earlier games, Contra III no longer features drop-in co-op. Now, 2 player mode must be selected at the start of the game, and it actually doubles boss health to increase the challenge. Note that there are two modes to 2 player, A and B. Mode A gives each player half the screen on overhead stages whereas mode B forces the players onto the same screen.
- Like Operation C on Game Boy before it, Contra III's default weapon is now the auto-fire Machine Gun. While obviously not ideal, the Machine Gun is still a surprisingly potent weapon and it's more than possible to beat the entire game with it. The series' staple Spread Gun returns, and it once again sprays a wide arc of five shots. It's been upgraded to now allow for rapid auto-fire, but its damage has been toned down in comparison to the NES games. The Laser also returns as a powerful yet slow-firing weapon that's great for defeating bosses. Note that the ability to mash the button to use it as a short-range weapon has been removed. The Crush Missile from Super Contra is back, but now functions a bit differently. It fires significantly faster than before, and like all weapons in this game, it's auto-firing. When it travels half the length of the screen or makes contact, it will explode into a semi-random cloud of smaller explosions that lingers for a second. It has less coverage than its Super Contra counterpart but is ultimately a superior weapon thanks to its fast rate of fire and insane damage output. When used in tandem with the Laser, the player can absolutely dominate bosses or other heavy targets. Lastly, in classic series fashion, Contra III yet again refactors the fire weapon. It's now a long flame weapon that emits a constant stream from the end of the player's gun that covers a wide area and deals heavy damage. It's both useful for taking out swarms of small, fast moving opponents as well as dealing strong damage to bigger targets. Its main downside is that it can't be effectively used with other weapons using the switching mechanic because it takes a moment to extend to full length. Note that the Smart Bomb weapon from Super Contra makes a return, and is found on all stages. Like that game, picking up this powerup grants the player a stock that can be used at any time by pressing the A button to clear the screen of enemies. It also does moderate damage to bosses. Unlike Super Contra, the player can hold more than one Smart Bomb at a time, and they're also granted one whenever they start a new life. That being said, dying reduces the player's stock to one. Smart Bombs are a good way for struggling players to deal with hard bosses, either by stock-piling them or by spamming them upon revival to get in some quick, cheap damage. Also, the barrier powerup from earlier games returns, and it now projects a spherical shield around the player, granting them a brief period of invincibility. Lastly, it should be noted that the weapon upgrade system found in Super Contra has been removed.
- Contra III's stages feature plenty of awesome new gimmicks to mix up the gameplay. Stage 1 features a tank that can be jumped in to blast through a brief yet hectic area that features a couple of walls akin to the stage 1 boss of the first game. Although the tank is fuckin' rad, it only lasts for less than a minute, as it's either destroyed by enemies or the player is forced to disembark after making it through that section. The remainder of stage 1 emphasizes dealing with huge pillars of fire reminiscent of the ones found in the Energy Zone section of the original Contra. There are also arcing flame waves and flurries of destructible rocks a la Gradius II, another killer Konami game. The player must contend with all of these while also dealing with the new hanging mechanic. There's even a brief section in which the ground breaks up into chunks like in Super C, but these don't actually create pits so they're not really a threat.
- Stages 2 and 5 comprise the “variety” stages that the series is known for. Like Super C, they're overhead stages, but these have a new twist. Now, pressing L or R will actually rotate the entire screen around the player, showing off the SNES' Mode7 effect, which was extremely impressive at the time. Also, unlike Super Contra, these stages are not vertically scrolling corridors but rather a wide area that can be freely traversed. The player must find and destroy all the stationary targets on each stage to proceed to the boss fight at the end. In Stage 2, these take the form of a manhole that a soldier pops out of, and on Stage 5 it's an alien hive that infinitely spawns bugs until destroyed. Both stages feature the gimmick of bridges that will collapse under the player, like stage 1 of the first game. Stage 5 also has sand floes that either push the player in a direction or spin them around. Note that the player can double-tap either L or R to rapidly spin in that direction to combat this, which is essential against the stage boss. Also, by holding the jump button, the player can duck under projectiles, much like in the base stages from the first game. Although the Mode7 stages are perhaps the weakest in the game, they still contain a surprising amount of depth and nuance. Also, like all variety stages, they're a bit easier than the normal stages and offer the player some respite before tackling greater challenges.
- Stage 3 is a futuristic factory stage that really puts the new hanging mechanic to use. It's filled with pipe sections that the player must carefully traverse as well as multiple climbing sections. Although it's not overhead, stage 4 can be though of as another variety stage because it's an auto-scrolling stage in which the player rides on a motorcycle. This is rad as fuck and would later become a series staple. Riding on a motorcycle doesn't alter the controls very much, and the main difference is that the player can't go into a prone state. The stage ends with a section in which the player hangs from a friendly helicopter, and it culminates against the illest boss the series has seen to date in which the player must jump from missile to missile to stay alive. Stage 4 is one of the bitchinest things to ever come out of the 90's, and as we all know, it was the dankest decade of all, so that's really saying something.
- The final stage is, of course, an alien den stage. It combines the classic format of multiple bosses, wall-mounted demonic mouths that shoot homing projectiles, and no shortage of infinitely respawning Xenomorphs. It also injects this game's emphasis on climbing to add some verticality to the proceedings.
- Besides the gimmicks, Contra III's stage design is notable in that it has an even stronger emphasis on bosses than previous games in the series. Stage 1 has 2 bosses, or four if you count the walls, stage 3 has four bosses, the last of which has multiple forms, stage 4 is basically one extended boss fight, and the final stage has a whopping 7 if you're playing on hard mode. The overhead stages only have a single boss each, but that's likely due to the difficulty of pulling them off in tandem with Mode7, so the game should be commended for having bosses on those stages at all.
- Like the games before it, Contra III's enemies mainly fall into the categories of chargers, snipers, and turrets. However, there are a small handful of innovative new enemy types to mix up the action. The first stage has a horrific alien dog with a human-like face that eats trash in the background. It will only charge at the player once it's reached the extreme left of the screen, which will almost certainly result in several unexpected deaths for beginners. In addition to the aforementioned dudes that pop out of manholes, the overhead stages have a segmented centipede enemy that has a lot of health but also a huge hitbox as each of its segments can be damaged. The red variants will split off into multiple smaller opponents if only one section is destroyed. Stage 3 introduces a robotic ball that's invincible while rolling around. It will then break open to deploy a turret to shoot at the player, at which point it becomes vulnerable. This stage also introduces flying insectoid aliens that grab the player and attempt to carry them offscreen. Once grabbed, the player must shoot upwards to free themselves. Stage 5 begins with enemies mounted on flying motorcycles that throw molotov cocktails at the player which spawn a wave of fire that must be carefully jumped over. The ship segment also introduces a handful of interesting new turret types as well as monkey-like enemies that shimmy along a pipe and jump down at the player.
- Contra III's bosses are definitely the highlight of the game. The first stage culminates with a fight against an enormous alien turtle. The player must shoot down the flies it barfs from its mouth as well as blasting at its indestructible head to give themselves some breathing room. It also has a hive on its back that infinitely respawns small flies that slightly home in on the player. Ultimately, they need to shoot at the turtles exposed heart on its chest to defeat it. Stage 2's boss is an enormous spider-tank that features six destructible containers on the end of its legs that each release a weapon powerup once destroyed. It also has a dangerous laser on its butt and a red eye on its front which is the only mandatory weakpoint. This boss challenges the player to rotate around it skillfully to destroy all its weakpoints as well as avoid its charge attack.
- Stage 3 has a unique hovering robot enemy that actually extends rotating pipes from its sides that can be hanged on by the player. Unless they're equipped with the Crush Missiles or Flame Whip, the player must carefully ride the pipe to shoot upwards at its vulnerable red eye. The boss also sometimes extends a drill out of its butt to kill careless players while they're grabbing onto the pipe. Immediately after that, the player must contend with a two-legged robot that walks up a wall and shoots homing missiles at the player as they climb. When reaching the top, it enters a tricky form in which it tries to ram the player, forcing them to predict the attack and skillfully climb up and down to evade. After that, there's a sort of a floating alien helicopter with a search light that alternates shooting a stream of grenades at the player as well as releasing a wave of enemies out of its back. Finally, the stage ends with a fight against two terminator-esque robots that jump at and occasionally shoot the player with their arm-mounted machine guns. Most of their attacks can be avoided by hanging from the ceiling, but the player must be careful because the robots can also jump up and hang from the ceiling. After destroying them, an enormous robot-man will emerge from the background. It has three attacks: first, it'll shoot lasers out of its eyes that have a slight homing quality. Secondly, it unleashes a salvo of bombs that explode after a countdown. The player must carefully move to the safe areas of the screen to evade this. Third, it will barf a stream of rotating fire that forces the player to rapidly climb and hang their way around the circumference of the room to evade. Note that each boss in this stage puts a heavy emphasis on the hanging mechanic.
- Stage 4 has a miniboss in the form of a tank that occasionally shoots a missile that can be shot down or jumped over. The player must also contend with infinitely respawning jetpack soldiers during this fight. After destroying the turrets on the underside of the alien ship, there's a running two-legged robot boss that'll hop around and spin its legs. This boss challenges the player to shoot while jumping or aim diagonally up, ideally using move lock, in order to hit its weakpoint. After that, the player grabs onto a helicopter and has to defeat a souped-up jetpack enemy that'll grapple onto the helicopter and spin around while occasionally attacking the player with a sword that also shoots a spinning blade that must be jumped over. Finally, the stage ends with a fight against perhaps the most thrilling boss seen in this series to date. The player must constantly jump between four rows of infinitely respawning missiles to stay alive while attacking the turrets at the top and bottom of the boss. The boss will also occasionally unleash salvos of aerial mines that can be shot down. Once both turrets are destroyed, it will disable the boss's shield, allowing the player to shoot at the huge red eye that comprises the boss's actual weakpoint. During this form, the boss will shoot a stream of fire that doesn't actually damage the player but will destroy missiles. The player must carefully pay attention to which missile is being targeted and jump to safety before it strikes.
- Stage 5 ends with a battle against a huge alien tumor in the middle of the desert. It has four holes that often spray streams of fire or shoot out an alien snake-bug that attempts to home in on the player. These worms can be destroyed for weapon powerups. The player must shoot the eye in the center of the tumor to actually damage the boss. After sustaining some damage, the boss will begin to manipulate the sand floes around it, which causes the player to rotate around against their will. This can be countered by holding L or R in the opposite direction to rotate against this, allowing the player to sustain shots on the eye. On hard mode, the rotation is extremely fast, which forces the player to double-tap L or R to rotate even faster to counteract this.
- The final stage is basically a succession of final bosses from earlier games. First off, there's the enormous alien dick that barfs shrimp. Next, there's the huge alien heart surrounded by destructible egg sacs that infinitely spawn face-huggers that charge at the player. Next is the end boss from Super C, which has been upgraded to now charge at the player. Its projectile rain attack is now much faster and the projectiles can't be shot down, so it's a lot harder now. Next up is the flying Xenomorph encountered in the penultimate stage of Super Contra. It will now use its scythe-tail to slice at the player as well as ramming its head against the wall, forcing the player to skillfully climb up or down to evade. It ends the fight with a new teleport attack that requires extremely precise positioning to be evaded and counterattacked by the player. Immediately after that is a fight against Emperor Demon Gava. After destroying his snake-arms, the player must stand directly below him and contend with both a stream of homing shrimp enemies it barfs from its mouth as well as infinitely respawning Xenomorphs from the left and right sides of the screen. This is the moment when the move-lock mechanic truly shines, as the player must stand in the middle of the screen and rapidly shoot at all approaching threats in order to stand a chance.
- After destroying Emperor Demon Gava, his cycloptic brain will emerge from his head, which is the true final boss of the game. This is an extremely strange boss that has no less than eight forms which the player actually controls via their attacks. The brain will float in the middle of the screen and circle itself with eight distinct balls, each of which represents a different form. The first ball to be shot by the player will determine which form it uses next, sort of like a roulette. The spiked ball form will release a ton of balls all over the place that can be destroyed, and which often release powerups, allowing the player acquire guns or smart bombs if they recently died. The blue ball form will release up to ten or so bouncing blue balls that move around diagonally and quickly fill the screen, proving quite difficult to evade. The cracked gray ball form will see the brain move to the bottom-right of the screen and release a succession of indestructible projectiles that can be difficult to jump over. However, this form does allow the player to work in a lot of damage. The smooth gray ball form will spawn a circle of eight balls around the player that will slowly close in, crushing them. Ideally, the player will expend a Smart Bomb to destroy all of them in a single blow, but if they don't have one and are also lacking a decent weapon, they're fucked. The eyeball form will cause the brain to shift from left to right, randomly releasing eyeballs that bounce towards the player. Although the eyeballs can be destroyed, they do not release powerups. The brain-ball form will surround the brain with a bunch of protective balls as it occasionally dips down to ram the player. This form is effective at blocking the player's shots if they're equipped with most weapons, but the Flame Whip will cut right through it and quickly destroy the shield as well as damage the main weakpoint. The red and gray ball will release a huge snake that moves in a sine-motion and is retardedly hard to avoid. It also lasts quite a long time, and can kill the player up to three times as a result. This form should be avoided at all costs by skillfully shooting the roulette wheel to avoid it. Finally, the blue and red ball form will cause the brain to sprout legs and waddle from left to right. This is by far the easiest form as the player can just stay on the edge of the screen to evade this. Obviously, the player should try to aim for this form as much as possible, but it's next to the red and gray form, which will almost always kill the player, so it's a crap-shoot.
- If the player's playing on hard mode, there's actually an extra final form they have to beat. The brain will be surrounded by a metal H.R. Giger-esque spiked shell that also has four tentacle arms that allow the boss to chase the player upwards as they escape on the helicopter. The player must skillfully jump and shoot downwards as the boss attempts to ram them. Although this fight is much easier than the brain, it can still catch players off-guard the first time it's encountered, especially because they weren't expecting an extra form on hard mode because games rarely do that.
- Contra III represents a giant leap forwards for the series. In addition to the significant advancements of multiple guns, move-locking, and hanging, it has no shortage of varied and iconic bosses that are some of the best ever seen in an action game, especially at the time of release. It's a bitchin', balls-to-the-walls experience from beginning to end and would prove to be one of the most influential action games ever made, both in terms of establishing the template for future games in the series as well as setting a ridiculously high standard that all action games after this point in time would strive towards and often fail to meet. So the next time you feel like jumping on an internet bandwagon and making some sort of dumbass meme that shits on Konami, remember that they did, in fact, make Contra III. And all the pachinko machines in the world won't change that fact.
- After the explosive success of Contra III on the SNES, Konami contracted Factor 5 to develop a Game Boy port, which was released two years later in 1994. Despite the serious hardware limitations, this is a shockingly complete port. Unfortunately, it doesn't really add anything new, but it's nevertheless quite competently made. It's even compatible with the Super Game Boy, and although it lacks a custom border, each stage has a special palette to liven up the visuals. Also, it should be noted that this version has a password save between stages. Although this hampers the difficulty, Game Boy games need to prioritize short play times so this is something of a necessity. One last thing is that this version lacks multiplayer, which is technically possible on the Game Boy via link cables, but two players onscreen would likely make the game lag or flicker.
- Contra III on Game Boy unfortunately lacks the laser, but it retains all the other weapons including the awesome new Flame Whip. Also note move-locking and multiple guns are absent due to a lack of buttons on the original Game Boy. Stage 1 is a perfect replica of the SNES version, and it even includes the tank section. The overhead stages are also mostly unchanged, although due to obvious hardware limitations they no longer rotate. Stage 3 is also quite accurate, although it lacks the alien helicopter boss and the final boss is missing its first form as well as the eye-laser attack. Unfortunately, stage 4 is missing entirely, which is more likely due to limited cartridge space and development time rather than some sort of hardware limitation. Lastly, the final stage lacks the alien heart, the flying Xenomorph, and the brain form of Emperor Demon Gava, but it repeats the huge alien dick to compensate. Also, Emperor Demon Gava now has a flame breath attack instead of vomiting homing shrimp.
- Eight years later, Konami contracted TOSE to develop a Game Boy Advance port of Contra III, entitled Contra III EX. Unfortunately, this port blows for a variety of reasons. Most egregiously, the dual gun mechanic has been scrapped. Strangely, when the player picks up a weapon and they already have one equipped, they'll shoot a powerup out of their head containing their previous weapon, allowing the player to pick and choose. However, this is often more trouble than it's worth in that certain action sequences have the player playing “hot potato” with their weapon. Also, the Smart Bombs have been removed, although the Barrier is intact.
- The overhead stages have been replaced with stages stolen from Contra: Hard Corps. Stages 2 and 4 have been replaced with the Train and Big Battle stages from Hard Corps, respectively. This isn't due to hardware limitations, as the GBA is actually significantly more powerful than the SNES, and there are plenty of pseudo 3D games on the system. It's actually due to the incompetence of TOSE, which is reflected all across this port.
- Contra III EX also abandons Hard mode, although it has the decency to move the secret final form of the last boss to Normal mode. There's also a password system like the one found in the Game Boy port. Perhaps the only good thing that can be said about this game is that it at least has two-player co-op via the link cable. Besides that, it's a frankly embarrassing port that's somehow inferior to the Game Boy version in a few ways.
- Alright, that covers Contra III and its ports. It's a killer game that stands head and shoulders above every other run n' gun released before it and it kicks ass even in 8 bits. I was originally going to include Contra: Hard Corps in this video but it's somehow even greater than this game so I decided to make a separate video dedicated solely to its dankness. For now, enjoy rockin' out to the adrenaline-pumping melody of Road Warriors, composed by Miki Higashino, Masanori Adachi, Tachihi Iwase, and Aki Hata. Layta daze, y'all.
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