Konami's iconic run 'n' gun franchise is seeing a resurgence so let's take an in-depth look back at 2 of the best games in the series.
Of course, the Contra series isn't renowned for its selection of characters. Heck, the European versions of these 2 classics even replaced everyone with generic-looking robots. That being said, I just wanted to hand it to Contra: Hard Corps for actually offering a wide variety of 4 selectable characters as opposed to Contra III: The Alien Wars which merely has stereotypical dudes Jimbo and Sully in the spotlight. Being able to play as the super-tough Ray and Sheena as well as a wolfman named Fang and a robot known as Browny is just awesome, especially considering how differently they play complete with distinct arrays of weaponry. Talk about going above and beyond!
Contra III: The Alien Wars features some very cool weapons that you can equip in 2 different slots and alternate between them. Aside from familiar weapons such as the Rifle, Laser Gun, and Spread Gun, you also get to fire missiles via the impactful Crush Gun, unleash a flamethrower with the Fire Gun, and chase enemies with the awesome Homing Gun. On top of these, deploying a screen-clearing blast with the M-80,000 Helio Bomb and activating a Barrier shield will surely give you the upper-hand. Although all of that sounds fantastic, Contra: Hard Corps again takes things to a whole new level. Each character has 5 weapon slots with the first being their standard gun and the fifth being a bomb. The first 4 slots can hold different weapons that are unique to each character so you're looking at a whopping 16 weapons to experiment with. Again, Contra: Hard Corps hits it out of the park and clearly wins this category.
When it comes to stages, Contra III: The Alien Wars features plenty of action-packed side-scrolling levels as well as overhead maze-like segments that gamers either love or hate. Some notable moments include climbing the side of a massive building while shooting at pesky enemies, an awesome hoverbike stage, and who could forget finally invading the aliens' base? Contra: Hard Corps may not have top-down gameplay at all but it does feature its own awesome hoverbike stage as well as a segment where you run towards the screen away from a giant death machine. In the end, Contra III: The Alien Wars wins here simply because it features more memorable moments.
Contra III: The Alien Wars has incredible boss fights from the alien spider that you fight overhead to a giant Terminator-like alien that lurks in the background of a tight closed off room. Also, hopping between missiles while shooting at an alien ship in stage 4 is mind-blowing. Meanwhile, Contra: Hard Corps has you face off against Deadeye Joe in various robotic forms, a monstrosity made of junk parts, a virtual reality morphing boss with 6 forms, and you can even challenge a robot who behaves identically to Simon Belmont. Finally, the 2 part battle against Red Falcon is jaw-dropping and fighting the gruesome Alien Cell is equally exciting, depending on which path you took through the story. That's right; Contra: Hard Corps has multiple paths and endings and it also has better bosses so it wins here.
Contra music is always fantastic and these 2 games are no exceptions. However, the music in Contra: Hard Corps is simply more energetic than it is in Contra III: The Alien Wars. Tracks like Road Warriors, No Man's Land, and Ground Zero stand out as easily recognizable tracks in Contra III: The Alien Wars. On the other hand, Contra: Hard Corps' Locked & Loaded gets you pumped right from the get-go and the soundtrack carries this energy through epic tracks like Zephyr, A Spirit of Bushi, Simon 1994RD, GTR Attack, and Last Springsteen. Wow, what weird song titles! The Genesis may have inferior sound capabilities yet Contra: Hard Corps clearly has better music.
I think you know which one I'm going to pick as the overall winner so here it is...
Winner Contra: Hard Corps
Contra III: The Alien Wars is an amazing game that I highly recommend playing if you love classic run 'n' gun games but Contra: Hard Corps somehow manages to top it with a great deal of variety in almost every sense and a killer soundtrack. Obviously, you'd be silly to pass up either of these games so definitely play them both. Once you do, I'm sure you'll have a more enjoyable time with Contra: Hard Corps which remains my personal favourite game in the entire series.
That's just my opinion. Agree? Disagree? Vote now!