Contra Returns, the review

Bill Rizer and Lance Bean return to iOS and Android to once again face aliens in Konami’s classic shooter: Contra Returns review

The review of Contra Returns gave us the opportunity to take a real trip into the past, going back to the days of the original cabin cruiser and those heroes clearly inspired by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone who fought against hordes of aliens to save planet Earth from a dangerous invasion.

The incipit has remained virtually identical, as well as the bulk of the mechanics that govern this new incarnation of the action shooter weblog Konami. Of course, visually the game abandons the pixel art of the late ’80s to offer us polygonal solutions often ugly and a bit ‘generic, but the spirit of the origins is all there and does not lack even the most important thing: support for Bluetooth controllers, which earns several points to the experience.


Contra Returns, one of the campaign's boss fights.

Available in the traditional freemium format on the App Store and Google Play Store, Contra Returns immediately highlights a rather rich structure, which doesn’t just include a long single player campaign, but also introduces a whole series of extra content and modes that you can unlock along the way.

We can, in fact, try our hand with the One-Life Mode, which as the name suggests is a mode in which you die at the first damage suffered; or with the Endless Mode, made of waves of endless enemies and the goal of surviving as long as possible; or even the Boss Challenge, in which we can challenge again the bosses already defeated.

Contra Returns, a taste of the competitive mode.

There is also a competitive online multiplayer, to give life to frantic one-on-one battles, and the traditional cooperative, also online, which allows you to really relive the atmosphere of the original chapters from the arcade, when together with a friend we tried to fight hordes of enemies and bosses, inevitably filling the coin-op with coins from 200 lire because the games were a continuous game over.

On the front of the elements unlockable finally figure the long list of playable characters Contra Returns, which goes far beyond the dynamic duo of John Matrix and John Rambo … that is, we wanted to say by Bill Rizer and Lance Bean, inserting a large number of new fighters, each with special skills that make different style of play.


Contra Returns, one of the alternative levels.

Completed a tutorial phase that keeps us literally by the hand during the first few minutes, showing how they work Contra Returns commands and how to manage weapons, with the inevitable possibility to buy more powerful making in-game purchases (but beware: the microtransactions have not seemed pressing or mandatory in the first hours), you can launch into the fray and find the dynamics of the franchise Konami among enemies of various kinds, traps, vehicles and huge bosses.

We quickly realize that the touch controls represent a more or less obvious obstacle from the point of view of the precision of movements and agility of the character, and although many elements are customizable (see the virtual joystick, which can be made repositionable instead of fixed) the general feeling continues to return the feeling of being often vulnerable in front of the most chaotic situations.

Contra Returns, Bill struggling with a freezing cannon.

Luckily, as mentioned in the opening, you can connect any Bluetooth controller to the device and dramatically improve the gaming experience. The layout is not modifiable and there are a few glitches (see jumping to B instead of A on the Xbox joypad), but it really only takes a few seconds to get the hang of it and understand the true potential of Contra Returns.

The game, in fact, lacks nothing: the classic situations are proposed in a way too generous, there are several variations on the theme, the boss fights work exactly as you would expect and, in general, you play for free without problems or expectations: from this point of view even the gacha mechanisms are somehow a nuisance.

Technical realization

After that, as already mentioned, from the technical point of view, the developers of Timi have chosen the path of a modernity a bit ‘fake, with polygonal graphics that if on the one hand tries to be as respectful as possible of the original materials, the other ends up showing often and willingly the side of solutions definitely ugly or dated.

In short, visually Contra Returns is more than anything else functional to the action and it is a pity that on this front it was not possible to make an extra effort, although at the end of the accounts the game runs well and without flaws, despite the constraint of the always online. Less clear the speech on the music, which in theory have been taken from the classic soundtracks of Contra, but do not shine in quality.


Contra Returns is a successful experiment, an immediate and fun action shooter that takes the classic mechanisms of the Konami series to offer us a long campaign and an exaggerated amount of content and modes on the side, clearly not all brilliant in the same way but certainly enjoyable. The touch controls are unfortunately not the best of life and it would be nice if the developers could improve them, but fortunately you can connect a Bluetooth controller and make the most of the capabilities of Bill and Lance in this new, yet another battle for the fate of the Earth.


  • It is definitely Contra, especially with the controller
  • Rich campaign and lots of extra content
  • You can play for free without any problems…
  • …but after a few hours a little grinding is inevitable
  • Touch controls only discreet, need improvement
  • Ugly graphics
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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