CONTRA III: THE ALIEN WARS > PRE-RELEASES > GBA REVIEW
CONTRA ADVANCE REVIEW BUILD (NINTENDO GAME BOY ADVANCE)
This prototype version of Contra Advance is placed in a large flash cartridge, often used as dev carts:
Originally owned by DreamTR, the prototype was sold to qixmaster; it is currently owned by JaxsBox. All 3 are members of the Nintendoage forum.
Despite being a review copy, it contains several differences from the final release. This is unusual, as most review builds of games are either identical to the retail version, close to the retail version, or have certain elements enabled that may be hidden in the retail release. The following is an incomplete list of differences to this prototype (note: for all comparison image sets, the prototype is on the left and the final version is on the right):
-There is no Licensed by Nintendo message upon booting the prototype.
-The title screen simply reads Contra Advance, as opposed to Contra Advance: The Alien Wars Ex. Novice mode is named Practice mode.
-“Option” is still highlighted upon exiting from the options menu in the prototype; in the final version, “1 player” is highlighted.
-Stage select is available when playing a new 1 player game. This stage select may be present, but dummied out, in the final version. Due to this feature, the last 2 stages can be accessed on Practice (Novice) mode.
-The Game Over screen does not display the number of continues in the prototype, whereas it does in the final.
-Many explosion animations are simpler in this version, usually consisting of mostly vertically rising flames. They’re also different in the number of explosions and their locations, etc.
-During automatic scrolling sequences in this version, the player is often blocked briefly by invisible barriers during the screen transition.
-There is significantly more slowdown during gameplay, especially when a lot of sprites are present on-screen, than in the final.
-Minor graphical and audio differences, including glitches, can be found. For example, the brain mini-boss’ sprite may disappear on a random play session; additionally, the helicopter’s and parts of the final boss’ sprites disappear as well.
-The passwords are different from the final version. Also, the currently highlighted letter disappears when an incorrect password is entered in the prototype. In the final version, it remains:
-The player always respawns with the same animation after dying (ie, jumping lightly in the air). In addition, proper respawn points aren’t yet implemented. This becomes a problem in most of the stages, as they contain death pits. Players will often reappear directly above a death pit. As another example, during the missile sequences of stage 4, the player doesn’t respawn immediately hanging onto a missile; they do so in mid-air, risking falling to their death.
-Bosses and many enemies are much weaker on the easy difficulty setting in the prototype compared to the final version. In fact, the patterns of some of them are also easier on the easy setting compared to the final (including stages 5 and 6). In general, many bosses and enemies are weaker overall compared to the final release.
-Boss damage system is slightly different: some bosses can be damaged during their entrance sequence.
-Various bugs and glitches that occur during gameplay. For example, on random play sessions, the player can climb on the open doorway before the first mini-boss of stage 5 (before the door closes). As another example, one or more alien grunts may spawn on random play sessions during the battle with the first mini-boss on stage 6.
2 PLAYER MODE
-The “waiting to connect” message is different from the final version:
-The “waiting to connect” message always appears after the intermissions stats screen in the final version, in all situations. However, in the prototype, this only occurs if one of the players disconnects during the stats screen; it does appear before the intermission stats screen when continuing at the Game Over screen:
The change in location of appearance was likely to prevent a display bug from appearing when players disconnect from each other (player 1 is incorrectly identified as player 2):
The message also appears at the final rank screen once the game is completed (both difficulty levels); both players must press start to restart the game:
-Regardless of difficulty setting, starting a new 2 player session (either from the title screen or after a Game Over) incorrectly indicates each player’s remaining lives as 9:
-When one player loses all of their lives in the final version, their status is removed completely from the other player’s screen, making it resemble a 1 player game. In the prototype, a remnant “1p” or “2p” remains instead:
-The “press start” message for a player who lost all of their lives is formatted differently between prototype and final version:
-In the final, when one player loses all of their lives and the other has none in reserve, the “press start” message disappears. In the prototype, it remains:
-The following disconnection error messages are present in the final release, whereas none are present in the prototype:
-In the prototype, the levels are referred to as stages in both intermission screens. In the final, they’re directly termed levels.
-The player blinks upon starting each stage; this is not the case in the final.
-The operable tank takes a lot less damage before being destroyed in the prototype.
-The fireball from the Cannon Twins mini-bosses is longer in the prototype than the final.
The sound effect for their fireball attack is also longer in the prototype.
-In this build, 2 bikers can be present to stalk and attack the player; in the final, there is only 1:
-A section of the hanging rail is misaligned in the prototype:
-When the stage boss is defeated, it steps back and off of the train much faster in the prototype.
-During 2 player mode in the prototype, the Rolling Ducker enemies mostly fail to open up and attack. Likewise, the red sniper on the tower (second sniper encountered) often does not fire any bullets. This glitch may be due to conflicts in deciding on a player target.
-The alien mosquitoes that first appear sometimes die immediately upon appearing in the prototype.
-The first mini-boss encountered is much more difficult in the prototype; remaining on the spinning blade at a distance that is safe in the final results in death here (from the pit below).
-Additionally, its death consists of different explosion animations:
-Likewise, the stage boss’ death consists of different explosion animations:
-The stage is brighter and contains bigger tunnel lights in the final:
-The flailing arm on the ship does not move in the same pattern on every play session in the prototype; sometimes, the player can remain safely at the right end of the screen until it is destroyed.
-The Bipedal Turret mini-boss’ sprites appear corrupted, as most of its beaded legs are missing, giving the impression that it floats/flies:
-The ally helicopter uses an additional sound effect in this version, used by the ally bomber jet from stage 1, both when it first appears and after the white screen effect that follows the stage boss’ destruction.
-Rocket Ninja Sasaki is more difficult to attack with certain guns in this version, due to a smaller hit box (likely a bug), when it grapples up close to the player to throw a shuriken.
-The barrage of missiles that appear during the boss battle fly in a much easier pattern to traverse here compared to the final.
-The player is able to fire their gun after the white screen effect following the destruction of the stage 4 boss in the prototype.
-When the screen fades back from white after defeating the stage boss in this version, the helicopter’s trailing flames exhibit a brief tint effect:
-The stage is shifted slightly lower for the final release:
-The enemies and bosses are functionally identical to their counterparts in the source material, Contra: Hard Corps. This is interesting because in the final release, their functionality is greatly simplified, which balances the difficulty. In this prototype, their functional accuracy makes the stage much more difficult.
-The frog-spider mini-boss’ death sequence has sound effects, and uses more elaborate explosion effects in the prototype.
-On a few occasions, the following glitch was unknowingly triggered:
In the second mini-boss fight, the frog alien sprite was replaced by Dr Mandrake, from Contra: Hard Corps. The game froze once the initial spider web was produced. Originally, in Contra: Hard Corps, Dr Mandrake mutates into the spider as a result of the alien DNA. In the final version of Contra Advance, this plot element was removed, with the spider simply entering the battleground. This suggests that Contra Advance may have been intended to be much more elaborate than the final product.
-The super soldier mini-boss battle can be initiated before the screen completely scrolls to the right. This usually results in glitches and unpredictable results. For example, after the super soldier initially charges to the left, he will immediately charge back to the right and off screen, halting all progress in the game.
-The dicephalic hen mini-boss’ heads can be attacked while it jumps across to either side of the screen in the prototype, unlike in the final. However, it kills upon contact during this sequence, whereas it is harmless in the final.
-The early section’s background is noticeably darker in the prototype than in the final:
-More alien grunt enemies spawn before the first mini-boss in the final version.
-There is no Laser powerup after the heart boss battle in the prototype. Also, the purple background section behind the player is less detailed in the prototype:
-Shadow Beast Kimkou performs only the weakened phase attack pattern on the easy mode. During so (both difficulties), it rises up out of the ground even further to the left compared to the final. This makes it impossible to avoid getting killed during this sequence.
-Additionally, it launches more raining projectiles in the prototype:
-Parts of the stage are glitched after Shadow Beast Kimkou and during the Metal Alien boss fight; jumping at certain points will kill the player.
-The Lateral Heads of Emperor-Demon Gyaba can be attacked at their segments in the prototype.
-The brain mini-boss’s snake selection and the snake itself are incorrectly colored in this version:
-The concentric eyeball embedded in the brain, during the eyeball phase, is different in the prototype:
-During the brain mini-boss’ blue walker phase, the player is safe when standing at the far left or right end of the screen (similar to the case in the SNES original); in the final version, the legs can contact and kill the player at these spots.
-During the brain mini-boss’ gravel-powerup phase, more gravel is thrown in the prototype compared to the final; the player is also safe when standing at either side of the screen:
-The arrow pointing to the helicopter at the end is purple and higher in the air in the prototype, instead of orange and lower as in the final. Notice the brain is partly embedded in the ground in the prototype:
-As the final boss rises, the player can still fire while above, off-screen in this version. Similarly, after it is defeated, the player can also fire.
-Also during the final boss’ destruction sequence in this version, the player becomes unable to move when the explosions rise from below. In the final build, they are no longer able to move after the explosions stop.
-Incomplete endings for both difficulty settings (animation, text, etc.) when stage 6 is completed in this version. In fact, the endings played on both difficulty settings are mostly the same. This message overlays the montage of images before the helicopter sequence:
-The player can fire their gun throughout the ending sequence. Firing during the montage of images will result in the entire player sprite (and gunfire) to become blacked out:
-Interestingly, the player’s/players’ position(s) on the missile during the ending sequence is carried over from their last position(s) on the missile during the escape sequence of stage 6.
-The background sky is noticeably darker in the prototype compared to in the final:
-Same with the background elements (crowd, etc.); notice that there are also fewer elements in the prototype’s celebration sequence, along with different player poses:
-The celebration segment is much shorter, here.
-Different transition and order of credits text. In the prototype, each line of text instantly appears/disappears; in the final, they appear/disappear by fading in/fading out. The text appears in the same order between both versions.
In the prototype, the developer name(s) (red text) disappears first, followed by the developer position title(s) (blue text), all from top to bottom. In the final, the upper name(s) (red text) disappears, followed by the associated developer position title; next, the same pattern occurs for the lower name(s) and developer position title, if any.
-The player’s final rank and score are displayed on the stats screen that follows the ending sequence in this version. On Normal mode, the game resets to the Konami logo after this screen. On Easy mode, an additional intermission stats screen is displayed…
… following which, the game freezes at a black screen.
-The game can be paused throughout the ending sequence in the prototype.
-A section around the middle of the ending theme repeats, making the track last longer than in the final.
-Completing stage 4 on Easy Mode in the prototype takes the player directly to the common ranking screen, without the image montage from the final. There is also no message asking the player to play on the higher difficulty setting, as seen in the final:
-The player always receives an A as final rank in this build.
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