Contra 3 mixes in side scrolling with top down play for two players. In certain stages, depending on the mode chosen, the game will split the screen or be fixed on a certain player.
Set in the futuristic year 2636, the alien invaders that were defeated during the previous installments have decided to launch a full-scale war against mankind on Earth, starting the "Alien Wars". Unlike the previous Contra games for the NES and Game Boy, the futuristic setting was kept for the American version. However, the identities of "Bill" and "Lance", the original Contra heroes, were changed to their descendants "Jimbo" and "Sully", maintaining the continuity of the previous localizations. Likewise, the alien invader was once again changed to "Red Falcon".