Back in 1987 Contra was released for the arcade, a fantastic co-op sidescrolling shooter that later got ported to the NES in 1988. This game was huge hit with its support for co-op multiplayer support when it was released and some people even say that it´s one of the best games ever for the Nes. We are now going to take a look at the two Contra games that were released in the 16-bit era and once and for all decide wich one is the winner! On one side we have Contra III: Alien Wars for the SNES and on the other side we have Contra: Hard Corps for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive. Some people say that the Snes version is the best, and other says that the Genesis version is the best, I have decided to take a dive into these two great games and decide what game really is the worthy winner!
First off we must keep in mind that both games were developed by Konami and that Hard Corps were released two years after Alien Wars and therefor has the advantage. But does this matter? some people still states that Alien Wars is better so there must be something more to it? We must also remember that when these two games were released either you owned a Snes or you owned a Genesis, so its a chance that you only played one of these games. Lets not let your nostalgic feelings get in the way of this battle! Now lets start the match!
Characters, Guns and ammunition
On thing we notice when we start up Hard Corps is that we have a choice of four different characters, something new that we haven’t seen before in a Contra game. Alien Wars for the Snes still follows the concept of the original arcade game and only has one character, and his twin brother if you play co-op. Hard Corps has a huge advantage here, not only do these four charaters have their own look they also have a unique weapon selection! In Alien Wars you only have a total of 5 weapons to collect throughout the game versus Hard Corps that has a total of 16 unique weapons! So there is no doubt that Hard Corps has a more variety in the game with different characters and weapons of choice for the player.
Levels and gameplay
Ok lets talk about the level designs and varity of enemies, monsters and obstacles you will encounter in the games. Alien Wars has a total of 4 levels (excluding the 2 top-down levels) packed with mini bosses and battles but when we take a look at Hard Corps we notice something totally different, at the end of every stage you get a path selection witch leads you in to a new level of your choice! The path you choose effects the story – yes Hard Corps has a storyline in the game compared to Alien Wars that doesn’t seem to have a story at all – and the path also leads to a whole new look of the enemies and levels. Hard corps has a total of 14 levels, and depending on witch way you choose in the game you have 6 different endings! This gives Hard Corps a great replayability!
The Contra series leveldesign is famous for its great mix of events during the levels, a mixture of one-hit-kill enemies, climbing on walls, platform jumping, fighting minibosses and crazy big end bosses of every level. This mix is what defines the Contra games and we tried to compare the variety of this mix for both of the games. What we felt was that Alien Wars had more of the one-hit-kill monsters than Hard Corps that had had more fun minibosses and crazy events. Alien Wars has a total of 18 bosses in the game compaired to Hard Corps that has a total of 38 bosses! The level design of Hard Corps were simple more fun and had more fun elements than Alien Wars.
Alien Wars has two special stages with a top-down view that you might remember, these stages used the Super Nintendos Mode 7 feature to rotate the background sprite, looked very cool but after a while you will notice just how annoying these levels are! They should have made two real levels instead.
This game is tough!
The original Contra on the NES was voted #1 by gaming website IGN.com as being the “Toughest Game to Beat” and these two games are no exeption. Both the US versions of the Contra games are very hard, if you get hit once you die! I i think its a shame that they didn’t add a energybar instead.. wait a minute there is a energybar! Yes if you get your hands on the Japanese version of Hard Corps you will find that each characters has an energybar containing three dots meaning you can survive three hits before you die! This makes the game much more fun and less frustrating. I have no idea why they removed this when it got released in the US.
There is not much to say, Contra: Hard Corps to the Sega Genesis is without a doubt the winner in this fight! Hard Corps may have been an underrated and overlooked game when it was released but its still one of the best Contra games in the series and have some amazing elements in the sidescrolling shooter genre. It has great variation of characters, weapons and levels that gives it a great replayability. The game looks, sounds and feels great and its really fun to play! So you out there who only have played Alien Wars you should definitely give Contra: Hard Corps a try, you will not get disappointed!