Review"If Nintendo and Capcom can churn out legions and legions of SNES to GBA ports, why can't we?", pondered Konami at some point in the year 2002. And what better choice to bring to a new generation of gamers than one of their top SNES titles, Contra 3? Unfortunately, due to some bizarre alterations in the porting process, the results are a bit less than desirable.
So just how much can Konami screw up Contra 3? Well, first off, the smart bombs have been removed entirely. Maybe the designers felt they made the game too easy, but they really helped bring some balance to the game, especially after respawning. Furthermore, they eliminated the ability to hold two guns at once, so you're always back to the machine gun if you die. Obviously, this also means you can't do the cool "spin and fire both weapons" manuever either. To their credit, you can now lock your weapon's angle and move in any direction like in Shattered Soldier, but this addition hardly makes up for what's lacking.
The designers wisely decided to ditch the overhead levels, but instead decided to replace them with two levels from Contra Hard Corps. Unfortunately, they went the lazy route and didn't bother to upgrade the graphics at all, so these levels retain the graininess inherent from the Genesis' limited color palette. What's more, they didn't bother to rebalance these extremely difficult levels at all. As a result, most people will probably get fed up at the second level - the train stage from Hard Corps.
Other than these two levels, the game looks just as good as it did on the SNES, and even removed a bit of the slowdown. Unfortunately, the playing field does feel somewhat cramped due to the small screen, adding to the frustration. And then there's the music. Every SNES to GBA port suffers some degradation in the sound arena, but Contra Advance absolutely murders these poor songs with terrible instrumentation and missing melodies. There are some minor changes in difficulty here and there, although the ending has actually been cut down from the SNES game. And the intro? Gone completely. Even the old black and white Gameboy port had that, and it seems to have been hacked out for no justifiable reason.
Which, as you might surmise, is the absolutely biggest problem with Contra Advance - there really was basis to make most of these changes, as they just hinder the overall game. There's really no reason to sink any time into this one when you've got the original Contra 3 as an alternative.