And we’re back for another edition of Box Art Brawl, our series of bloody bouts between video game box covers from video game territories across the globe.
Last week North America was deemed to have the best Donkey Kong 64 cover, winning the day with its brazen boldness over the airy Japanese variant and the black-bordered European version. Congratulations to the only cover to feature series antagonist King K-Rool on the cover.
This week we’re going back to the Contra series with Contra III: The Alien Wars, or Super Probotector: Alien Rebels as we knew it in PAL regions. No, Europe wasn’t ready for muscle-bound, gun-toting deliverers of justice yet, so we got robots. Fortunately, robots are still pretty cool.
It’s easy enough to play these days, having been included on the Super NES Classic Mini Console and on Konami’s Contra Anniversary Collection on Switch. If you cast you’re minds back seventeen long weeks, you’ll remember that we looked at the original NES Contra (or Probotector) way back in Round #2 of Box Art Brawl. In that bout the North American variant triumphed, with Europe in second and Japan a distant third.
Will history repeat for this Super NES / Super Famicom entry in the series, though? Let’s get down to brass tacks…
Konami was up to its old movie poster-pilfering tricks, as you’ll have seen from the photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the poster for Raw Deal at the top of the page. Still, at least Arnie is properly proportioned, which can’t be said for the poor child soldier in the foreground who’s been force-fed steroids by the looks of his arms. His face makes us sad, although we like the general composition of the cover, and the bold title at the bottom looks pretty kick-ass.
We also like the pink Konami strip at the bottom. Japanese covers frequently make extensive use of the whole colour palette and we wouldn’t be surprised if pink was vetoed in the west back in the ’90s as a colour that would potentially put young males off buying the game.
‘Assemble your weapons and stop the nasties!‘ the box pleads. The EU box is significantly different thanks to the human protagonists getting ejected in favour of Gundam-style robots. We like the relatively sparce key art, but the black and silver borders of this PAL version do little to bring out the best in the image. The ‘Alien Rebels’ subtitle contrasts well with the Probotector logo, although it gets a bit lost and the whole logo seems to be covering some visually interesting alien nasties while the bottom left of the image is just dust.
There’s a better cover here, but despite individual elements we like, it doesn’t really gel for us. Nice gun, though.
The North American version gets the standard black borders and a lovely bit of key art that went on to serve as the main image for the Contra Anniversary Collection. With a whole bunch of enemies crowding the platforms and Jimbo and Sully – descendants of Bill and Lance from the original – are getting stuck in with enthusiasm.
Again, it’s a lovely bit of art that could probably have been better served without the black border and blurb.The image itself tells us the game is going to be ‘lightning quick and fully loaded with highly advanced features designed to blow the mind in non-stop combat” – does that really need to be spelled out in hard-to-read text covering up the art?
There you go. Now it’s time to vote for your favourite using whatever criteria you deem appropriate, be it nostalgia, how the cover looks to your cold, clinical 2019 eyeballs, or perhaps even a robot fetish – ours is not to reason why. Simply click on the one you like best and hit the ‘Vote’ button:
And there we go – another Contra goes head-to-head-to-head with itself for your entertainment and amusement. Who’ll be in the ring next week? Find out when Box Art Brawl returns.