This was one of the first Game Boy games I received when I got my first Game Boy. It’s an excellent game, and it’s my favorite Contra game. I know that’s weird, and you’re probably thinking how could this game possibly be better than Contra Force or Legacy of War?
That was probably a bad joke. Oh well. I still like Contra: The Alien Wars better than the other Contra games.
TLDR: This is my favorite version of Contra! I know that’s weird.
Let’s start with the SNES game. It was released in 1992 and was one of the early games that showed off what the system could do. It looks great, is a hard game, and is fun to play.
I wish I had played it when it first came out. I didn’t know anyone who had a SNES at the time, and I didn’t know the game existed because I wasn’t subscribed to Nintendo Power or other video game magazine. I think we had bought a PC, and my parents didn’t want to buy a new console after our NES broke.
The game was ported to the Game Boy in 1994 by a company called Factor 5. In Europe, it was released as Probotector 2, and the character sprites were redrawn as robots. The same thing was done with Contra’s Europe release on the NES.
There was a remake of the game for the Game Boy Advance called Contra: The Alien Wars EX. This was released in late 2002, and I missed it even though I was paying way more attention to Game Boy games. There are just too many games for one person to keep track of!
Contra: The Alien Wars was also enhanced to take advantage of the Super Game Boy. This brought it closer to what the SNES game looked like. It was still a Game Boy game, but at least it looked better.
The game controls excellent. It feels like the NES game, but with a much less chaotic screen. You can easily shoot in any direction, turning is great, and I think the side-scrolling levels are excellent.
The top-down levels are a different story. I wouldn’t say I like playing these levels. They look great, but I find them to be a miserable experience.
When the game switches perspective, I found it to be a bit jarring. It’s a bit hard to explain as it’s just my experience. I didn’t have any issues when the NES games shifted to a third-person view. However, when this game switched perspectives, it felt a bit off.
I’m sure I could get used to this again if I kept playing it. I remember beating this game all the time when I was younger. It’s not a hard game, and I think it’s probably the easiest game in the Contra series.
Like other Contra games and other run-and-gun games, you get a bunch of power-ups. You get them by shooting the flying enemies. Here is a list of the power-ups:
- Force Field – Gives you a false sense of security for a few seconds.
- Bomb – These can be used to clear the screen.
- Spread Gun – Shoots in three directions. It wouldn’t be a Contra game without this awesome weapon!
- Flamethrower – This is the weapon I use the most in the top-down levels.
- Grenade Launcher – This is the weapon I dislike the most.
- Heatseeker – This is a great gun and is my favorite in the game. It does make things a bit too easy.
I find myself trying to avoid some of the guns. Especially when I get the Heatseeker or the spread gun, I wish they would let you carry two guns at a time, but I guess that wasn’t an option.
For a Game Boy game, this handles great. I never felt like the game was being unfair, and any mistake I made was my fault.
When I think of a Contra game, I think of the movie Aliens. There is a lot of action, and some enemies get progressively alien in appearance. This achieves the look of the NES games.
This game looks great! The smaller screen limits the number of enemies and projectiles on the screen. This makes for an easy game, but it also creates an enjoyable experience.
I didn’t check the game on the Super Game Boy or my Retron 5. I wanted to play it in black and white, so I played it on my Game Boy Pocket. It might look better in color, but I would rather play Contra, Super C, or Contra III at that point.
When the game shifts from side-scrolling to top-down, it still looks great. While the gameplay is a bit off on the top-down levels, you don’t lose anything from a visual standpoint. It seems both futuristic and creepy.
It isn’t a happy-looking future. This is the Terminator and Aliens suture. Things have been around a long time, they’re broken down, and it looks like a war-ravaged background. I would assume this place had seen quite a bit of fighting before the aliens showed up.
However, like many Game Boy games, you might want fresh batteries to keep you from losing visibility.
The only bad thing I have to say is the power-ups can be hard to see. They are identified by a letter on them, and with the Game Boy, it can be hard to see what it is. This can cause issues where you want to keep a gun, and you accidentally pick up one of the crap ones.
This did make things a bit rough at times. Part of the problem is the small screen, but I blame myself for this. I wish the power-ups were a bit clearer, though.
I have a lot of nostalgia for this game and the Contra series. I spent a few late nights playing this and trying not to make a sound. It’s one of those memories that feels a bit alien now.
This is one game that I enjoy more than its console counterparts. I enjoy both Contra and Super C, but this one is just more fun. Contra: The Alien Wars isn’t a difficult game compared to the other games in the series.
The graphics are good, it controls great, and if you’re looking for an entry point to the series, this will ease you into it.
- This is a pick-up and play type of game. You don’t need instructions on how to play.
- The graphics are good for the most part.
- The controls are great! If you make a mistake, it usually’s your fault.
- It can be a bit too easy for a hardcore Contra fan
- It’s on the Game Boy, so it can’t pull off the graphics of its SNES counterpart
- It can be hard to see what power-up you’re getting until it’s too late.
This is one of the few Game Boy Games I remember playing when I was younger. I remember having a few of them, but this one stands out. I didn’t know it was a port of the SNES game for the longest time because I didn’t follow the SNES enough to know that.
I remember playing this game late at night when I was supposed to be asleep. I would turn on my bedside lamp (I feel so old writing this) and try not to make any noise.
Revisiting it for this reminds me of those days. I’ve never been good at video games, especially side-scrollers like this, but this was one I could beat.
The Game Boy filled a void for me. After our NES broke, we didn’t have a console until the mid-90s when I bought a PlayStation. So, my little Game Boy Pocket was where I played versions of the Nintendo games that I grew up with.
Thanks for reading this! I’ve got a bunch more Game Boy games to get to, and I’ll post some more book reviews. Take care!