CONTRA 3 / Konami / SNES

When it comes to arguments in the public sphere about video game violence, I tend to usually sleep through them, because the mass media outlets are dominated by politicians and shyster lawyers who have agendas and are completely out of touch with the medium of gaming. That's not to say I have no concern about violence in games - I'm very leery of this trend towards gaming as propaganda for militarism, particularly with stuff like America's Army and all these Tom Clancy games encouraging people to rush out to recruitment offices so they can yell "BOOM! HEAD SHOT!" while knocking some poor guy off his camel for the Glorious Imperial Army. But, I try not to have too much of a stick up my ass about shooting things and blowing things up generally speaking, because literally millions of us have had a steady diet of these sorts of games for years now and not only are we by and large neither homicidal maniacs nor fascist stromtroopers, quite a few of us have managed to come out as pretty decent human beings to boot.

Anyway, Contra 3. This is one of those games I don't worry myself too much about. It's all just too silly and over-the-top, despite it's sweaty macho earnestness ("Let's attack agressively!"). The game opens with a scene that the movie Independence Day would *totally* rip off a few years later - the alien armada of Red Falcon parks itself over some unspecified Earth city and blows it to hell with a giant laser beam. Uber-soldiers (and suspected part-time gay porn stars) Bill and Lance take it upon themselves to extract revenge by storming Red Falcon's fortress.

The game begins by giving you a machine gun that emits a a continuous unbroken stream of bullets without ever stopping or needing to be reloaded, and the weapons just get more ridiculous from there. You can even hold two guns at a time in this game, which you can switch between, and you retain the one that was not active when you are killed. This also allows you to do some sort of jumping spin while firing both weapons simultaneously, which is mostly useless except for striking badass poses while jets randomly nuke the ground beneath your feet. In spite of all this firepower, the game is really difficult - though, I must stress, it's really not cheap. On Normal difficulty it's quite doable once you have an idea of what is up ahead, and even Hard mode can eventually be taken down with a bit of practice. The neat level design helps smooth out any frustration experienced by the game's difficulty - jumping from missile to missile still holds up as a pretty cool idea.

The game is a non-stop adrenaline pumper, a fun test of skill for two players, and probably the best overall Contra game ever released as well as being one of the best run-and-gun games there is.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video