The picture pretty much sums up the greatness of Contra III: Destruction. Fire. Guns. It's a truly awesome action game that from the off never lets up. There's a great variety in the stages, too, from side-on run and gun to top-down free-roaming to high-speed jetbike riding. The game really mixes it up in terms of what the player has to do and as a consequence the entire thing flows beautifully and keeps you completely focused.
There are some great boss encounters along the way - the giant Snatcher-style robot that claws a door open being particularly memorable. It's quite challenging and I daresay a little cheap in places, but it's so much fun to play you always come back for more. This was probably the first thing on the SNES that really blew me away and made it quite obvious that - as far as arcade games go - it was streets ahead of the Amiga and even Megadrive stuff I had been playing.
The soundtrack is stunning, one of the finest scores to come out of the SNES. Exciting, pumping techno and rock that perfectly complements the action, and there are plenty of meaty sound effects to round it off (great explosions especially).