Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX is a side-scrolling shooter game released for the Game Boy Advance in 2002. It was developed in a collaboration between Konami and TOSE and published by Konami. The game is a remake of Contra III: The Alien Wars, which was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1992. It also includes elements of Contra: Hard Corps, which was released for the Genesis/Mega Drive in 1994.
In Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX, you play as one of two commandos, Bill Rizer or Lance Bean, on a mission to take down an alien invasion that threatens the Earth. You are equipped with various weapons, such as machine guns, flamethrowers, and homing missiles, which you can switch between to deal with different types of enemies.
The game features six levels, each with unique challenges and bosses. The levels are well-designed, and the difficulty curve is well-balanced, providing a challenging yet rewarding experience.
Unfortunately, the attempts to port Contra III: The Alien Wars to the Game Boy Advance fall short in some aspects. One of the main issues is the game engine used to run it. It's not suited to reproduce the gameplay of the original. The game suffers from omissions and replacements of gameplay elements that significantly impact the experience. For example, smart bombs are removed, and you can only hold one gun at a time.
Besides, the behavior of some enemies, bosses, and power-up weapons are modified, making the game easier or more challenging in some cases. Another drawback of Contra Advance is the stretched screen resolution and larger sprites, resulting in fewer elements on the screen.
However, you cannot consider Contra Advance's graphics inferior to the other chapters. The colors are brighter, the sprites more defined, and the backgrounds are much more varied. Some consider the visuals of Contra Advance one of the best of the series, surpassed only by the SNES version.
In terms of gameplay, the game does have some positive features. For example, you have the ability to lock their aim, and the power-up system is modified. So, if you collect a new power-up, you can switch between the two for a while.
In short, Contra Advance: The Alien Wars EX is probably not the best chapter of Contra out there, but for the fan of the series, and fans of the Game Boy Advance, it's a title that can't be missed.