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Contra: Returns Guide: Tips, Tricks & Strategies to Defeat All Your Enemies and Save the World

The classic Contra run-and-gun shooter game series which originally made a debut back in 1987 is making a comeback this summer, as the developer behind the franchise Konami has recently pushed out a new installment exclusively for mobile: devices.

Co-developed in partnership with Tencent’s Timi Studio Group, the latest sequel of the popular retro title is called Contra: Returns. The new arrival retains the original’s side scrolling gameplay while adding its own modern twist into the mix. With this new iteration comes a brand new story arc which stretches across over a total of 200 levels, as well as new characters and weapons. Fans are also able to take up a new one-life playing mode that allows them to test their endurance and skills to see how far they can go without dying.

contra returns bill rizer

In Contra: Returns it’s the year 2638 and an unidentified cosmic object is orbiting close to Earth causing the appearance of “dark areas” which are quickly claimed by zombies who then declare war on humanity. Now it’s the job of the elite guerilla task force codename “Contra” which features members such as Bill Rizer and Han Feng to keep Earth from getting destroyed.

The squad travels to the Galuga Archipelago where it comes across a laboratory infested with zombies which, as it turns out, are the result of doctor Geo Mandrake’s failed experiments to bring his daughter Lucia back from the dead. To unveil what happens next, players are invited to immerse themselves into story mode where they are tasked with solving missions in order to move forward the narrative.

On top of story mode, which gets unlocked first in Contra: Returns there are many more modes to try out and play including Team mode, PvP, Challenge and more. The new game blends elements borrowed from the entire Contra franchise, but as we mentioned above, it does bring several elements of novelty in the form of new characters and concepts.

contra returns tina

Anyway, if you just started playing Contra: Returns you might find yourself a bit baffled by the amount of content this game packs. If you’re currently struggling to find your way in the game, stay with us as we unfold this Contra: Returns guide which contains a list of tips, tricks and tactics to get you started in the right way. We’ll be focusing on story mode here, but we’ll touch upon the other game modes ad explain how they all serve your ultimate purpose – to keep earth from being destroyed.

1. Play The Story Mode To Unlock New Heroes And Level Up

Story mode is the first thing that becomes available to you as you begin your adventure in Contra: Returns. It’s the easiest way to unlock the first few heroes and allows you to begin levelling up so that you can access the game’s many other features.

Moreover, since Story Mode levels are the primary source for EXP points, as well as various resources which will be discussed later in this section, spending time in this mode should be high on your list of priorities.

Now, as you reach a certain point you won’t be given access to later stages unless your squad has levelled up to a certain degree. When that happens, it’s a good idea to go back and replay older levels for extra EXP. After clearing each stage, players receive a rating based on their performance during the mission which varies between 1 and 3 stars. If you haven’t been able to finish a level with top rating yet, make sure you return to them and replay. Hopefully you’ll be able to score 3 stars this time around, not to mention you’ll get more EXP, as well as extra items.

leveling up in contra returns

Additional tip: On levels where you’ve already scored three stars, you can go raiding. Doing this will allow you to score extra EXP, as well as to grab additional items which you will need to upgrade your weapons with. One raiding sessions costs 6 stamina points. If you have enough, you can use the 10x raiding button and get a truckload of resources in addition to EXP. However, keep in mind that stamina will run out pretty soon if you keep using the option.

As tempting as it is to get a quick score of EXP, we recommend using it in moderation. If you completely run out of stamina, you won’t be able to play the next level in Story mode and be forced to wait until the energy you need is regenerated (although another option is available, which we’ll detail in section 12).

2. Missions Get You Extra EXP

To make fast progress in Contra: Returns you’ll have to learn how to level up quickly and efficiently. Levelling up requires EXP, and as we explained above you can quickly access that by going on raids.

Another method to obtain the much coveted EXP is to complete Missions and collect Activity points. Make sure you check the Missions hub frequently and see what you can do. Go through all the tabs including Missions, Daily Training, Weekly Training and Legion Training and redeem what’s available. Also get proactive and check out what tasks from the list you can take up. For example, you can go ahead and Play 1 Arena Mode game in exchange for 5x Activity points and 5x CP points.

contra returns missions

Once you collect enough Activity points you’ll be able to unlock chests which include a nice amount of EXP, coins, EXP tickets and other resources.  

So whenever you need some EXP to advance your squad to the next level, make sure you check the Missions hub and see if there’s something new to redeem. The rewards here are extremely helpful.

3. Increase Your Weapon’s Firepower

Each of your Contra heroes carries two weapons – a primary one and a secondary and you can easily interchange between the two while you’re out on the mission fighting zombies and aliens. Naturally it’s very important to keep improving these weapons and the first step in doing so is upping their firepower. Having weapons that boast higher firepower will make it easier to burn through a level and deal with the boss waiting at the end.

Make sure you take note of each level’s suggested firepower requirements before pressing the “Action” button to launch the stage.  While it’s recommended to follow the game’s counsel, don’t worry, even if you don’t meet the specifications this doesn’t always spell doom. It’s still possible to beat a level, although it’s probably unlikely that you’ll be able to finish with a top 3-star rating.

contra returns raid

Having said that, managing to score a 3-star rating can be vital for increasing your weapon firepower. To do so, you require various junk items which are offered as part of the reward package for each level. Well, if you find that you’re still missing some, you can go back and raid. But remember it’s only possible to do that if you’ve completed a level with a 3-star rating. Don’t worry if you didn’t manage to succeed the first time around, you can go back to a stage and replay it for as many times you want.

contra returns akx assault rifle

Once you’ve collected enough items you’ll be able to upgrade the weapon’s firepower from the Advancement tab. If you ever are unsure where you can get these resources, tap on those you are missing. The game will show you a list of things you can do to get ahold of those resources. The most common way to collect these is through raiding. Or you can participate in a Challenge. And so on. In Contra: Returns things are simplified significantly by the fact that you are instructed what to do in order to get access to a certain resource, so there’s no guesswork involved.

At the same time, you should also check the Proficiency section which also increases firepower by using up all the accumulated Weapon Upgrade Cards which you usually win as rewards for taking up all sorts of activities. Each time you level up your hero you’ll be able to unlock a new upgrade, so keep an eye out for that. In addition, firepower can be increased by upgrading Mods which are Skill Modifications.

contra returns spread gun 5s

Don’t spread your resources thin by upgrading all the guns you’ve unlocked so far. Heroes go into battle wielding one main gun and a secondary one, and so these two should be your focus when performing the upgrades. Given that the cost of upgrades increases steadily as you progress, once you’ll reach higher levels you’ll find it harder and harder to upgrade, so don’t make it more complicated than it has to be by spending cash on other guns than the ones you’re customarily using.

In Contra: Returns you can get new guns to your arsenal simply by playing the game, and participating in in-game activities such as Story Missions, Boss Challenges or Ranked Matches to earn weapon fragments and ultimately assemble the weapons themselves.

contra returns spread gun 3s fragment

There’s also a special shop where you can use Arena or Legion coins to unlock new weapons. Moreover, there’s the option to buy your desired weapons using Diamonds from the Item Shop. It’s also important to keep an eye out for limited-time events as they too might be a great source for more unique guns.

Anyway, the initial batch of guns you’ll get access to will be from the lower-grade category. These can be either B, C and D-tier guns. On the second day playing, you’ll unlock a S-tier weapon which is the higher-end type. We recommend that you focus on improving the S one and another one from the B/C/D crop as your secondary weapon and pour your resources into them. Later on, once you’ve unlocked an A-type gun you might want to switch to that one.

contra returns gun view

It would be a good idea if you could first test out each gun to see what they can each do, before making a decision with which one to stick.  Make sure you select a secondary gun which complements the primary one. For instance, in the case of the Spread Gun, which has a mid to long-range, wide area spreadshot, you could pair it with a weapon which has a precise, long-range and penetrative fire like the Jaguar Sniper Rifle.

Extra tip: As you progress in the game, you’ll need more and more resource to advance your guns. But if you take our advice and focus on improving two weapons, you can put the other ones you’ve been storing in your inventory to a different use. You can try to Extract them in exchange for some loot which includes items needed to advance guns and also a nice sum of coins. Keep in mind that you need to upgrade a gun at least once for it to become eligible for extraction.

4. Increase The Star-Rating Of Your Guns

The higher the star-rating a gun has, the more powerful it is. To be able to promote your weapon this way, you’ll need to collect specific gun fragments until you have enough to authorize the upgrade.

contra returns star rating

Adding an extra star to your gun rating will improve the weapon’s firepower, weapon mod and barrage capacity. Confused about where you’re supposed to find the fragments you need for promoting a specific gun? Don’t be.

In the Promotion tab, tap on the “+” next to the progress bar showing you how many pieces you’ve managed to collect so far. A small window will pop up showing you all the things you can do to obtain some fragments. Note that some of these events might not be available at that time. If you find that you can’t take advantage of anything on the list right away, come back later.

5. Take Each New Hero For A Spin

As you progress with the storyline, you’ll be able to unlock new heroes (usually at the end of a chapter). While all your heroes can share in the weapons you’ve managed to unlock so far, they do boast their own Skills and abilities which makes them more or less suited for particular levels.

Our recommendation is to learn to play with each new hero and to understand their strengths and weaknesses. An important aspect of Contra: Returns is that levelling up and upgrading weapons is achieved for all of you squad members en mass. So you won’t have to deal with having a level 20 hero, while another is stuck at level 10 because you’ve not taking him/her out as much during raids.

contra returns hero details

With this setup in place it becomes quite easy for players to switch between heroes as their in-game needs and preferences dictate. Unfortunately, to be able to gain access to top-tier heroes, you’ll may be required to obtain a premium package and other such bundles. This is the case for S-class heroes like Alice who is part of the V Premium Pack.

6. Find The Safe Spot During Levels

As we explained above, it’s quite important to be able to clear levels with a top rating. You might not be able to achieve this feat as you step into a new level for the first time which boasts unfamiliar territory and enemies.

Luckily, you can try again once you’ve become accustomed with the environment and know where the more deadliest enemies are about to drop and more importantly following which configuration. All Contra: Returns levels follow a recurring pattern and if you can memorize that, you’ll be alright and be able to score the highest of ratings. Even bosses move following a pre-defined script which is not hard to learn.

contra returns victory

Since finishing a level with more than 50% health is often a requirement to be awarded a star, you should also try mastering the ability to jump (do a double jump to reach higher). This will save you from getting hit by those types of enemies who are constantly shooting at you as you move towards them. In boss challenges, jumping comes super in-handy, since it will allow you to dodge the larger creature and its attacks.

Another trick is to spot safe places where you can position yourself and shoot your enemy without being in harm’s way. For example, you can take refuge on a higher platform that the boss’ venom can’t get to and blast it with your weapon from there. Most levels offer such a safe heaven, but they might be harder to locate if you’re trying to finish the level quickly and are not spending enough time taking in your surroundings.

safe place in contra returns

Often times you’ll just have to rely on your skills and fast reflexes to win. And remember, if you can’t clear a level with all 3 stars at one point, come back to it later and try again. Perhaps with an improved gun and use your knowledge from the previous times you attempted to play the level to win.

Extra tip: It’s not a good idea to keep blasting the fire button while you’re playing levels in story mode. While it might be tempting, abstain from doing so and allow the weapon to cool down and regenerate its ammo. Basically shoot when you have to.

In Contra: Returns you get unlimited ammo, but there’s a small caveat here you should be aware of. Weapons have a cool down period that is triggered when you finish a cartridge (varies from gun to gun). When that happens the hero will be forced to load the weapon up again, which means you won’t be able to defend yourself. The best way to avoid that is to take intermittent breaks from using the weapon to allow it to quickly regenerate. Try using the dodging method during these respites to conserve your health and avoid getting critically hit.

7. Don’t Forget To Use Your Hero’s Special Skills In Battle

As we already told you, each hero boasts a few unique skills which can come very handy in battle. Just make sure you use them! Some of them are extremely effective and even though they also have a cool down period, they will regenerate relatively fast.

contra returns skills

Don’t get overly reliant on pressing the fire button, you have a few more that you can use. For instance, Sheena boasts a very valuable Skill called EM Cannon which can strike enemies in the Cannon’s line of fire 7 times. The Cannon takes 5 seconds to recharge.

It’s also important to remember to upgrade each of these Skills from the Hero hub. Pour gold into improving them as much as possible and make them even more deadlier. You can even add a Bonding Skill later on.

8. Upgrade Your Super Weapon

On top of the two regular use weapons your hero relies on during levels, they will also pack one Super Weapon. This gun can inflict massive amounts of damage at one point, after which it will take a long time to recharge and be active again.

Anyway, make sure you also pour funds into upgrading your Super weapon, as well. Improve its firepower by spending Nuclear batteries which you can obtain, for example, by playing Endless mode in Challenges.

contra returns super weapon upgrade

The Super Weapon can be handy in boss challenges, as well as in any challenging level when you’re dealing with a large influx of enemies that are piling on top of you. You can use this massive gun to dissipate them quickly and then try to retreat to a safer location from where you can start taking out the remaining ones.

9. Grab Your Rewards Whenever The Game Makes Them Available

Be sure you grab all the rewards that pop up gradually as you play to bulk up your resource reserve. The game highlights when something new is available to redeem by placing a small red dot on top of that particular tab. So, for example, if you notice the red dot on the Event Center hub, it means there’s something new to redeem. Alternatively, the same dot on Weapon or Hero might mean a new upgrade has been unlocked and you can go ahead and authorize it.

contra returns rewards

A lot of these goodies are waiting for you in the Event section. Try browsing through all the daily, limited and other events and check all the tabs that have a red dot. Grab whatever is available. For example, in Daily Events look for the Laboratory and redeem the free stamina potions.

There are many places in Contra: Returns which can produce rewards, so make it a point to check out each of them. You’ll need all the stuff you can get to pay for your hero’s upgrades, so the more you can get the better.

10. Join PvP Battles, Challenges And A Legion

There are countless gaming modes in Contra: Returns, and you’ll gradually get to unlock them as you level up your heroes. Participating in each of these challenges will get you some of those extra resources you so badly need, so you’re highly encouraged to join.

You can engage in PvP without having to waste any stamina to do so, and the rewards can be quite nice. For example, you can acquire EXP and as you move up in ranks and acquire PvP points you will get to unlock all kinds of goodies.

contra returns spread gun promotion

Alternatively, you can engage in Challenges where you can win more stuff. For example, during Boss Challenge you can obtain highly coveted gun parts. In Event mode, on the other hand, you have a chance to acquire EXP and EXP cards which are needed to make you weapons more proficient.

Similarly, you should try joining a Legion as soon as you can. It will help you speed up your progress by giving you access to more rewards.  You just have to pay attention, as some of these modes only become available under a certain schedule. You’re also encouraged to make a donation to your Legion to promote its growth and development and in turn the quality of rewards you’ll be receiving.

11. Buy More Stamina Using Diamonds

If you ever run out of stamina, but you want to keep playing, you can use your Diamond stash to purchase more. We don’t really recommend using Diamonds on anything else really, although there quite a few options including acquiring new guns and so on which might be tempting.

As you play the game, these Diamonds will accumulate and so you should have plenty of them if you want to spend some on stamina from time to time. You’re limited to two stamina purchases per day anyway.

purchasing stamina in contra returns

Stamina runs out fast when you’re doing raids or playing levels in Story mode, but the good news is that other gaming modes like PvP don’t require a stamina investment from you. So if you ever find yourself low on stamina, but feel like you’d like to continue playing, an alternative would be to go play in another mode, while stamina is regenerating in the background for you.

With this last tip we wrap up our Contra: Returns guide. We hope that our suggestions will pave the way for you to become a master zombie and alien annihilator. The game certainly has many other layers, which you will discover as you continue to fight enemies and improve your hero(s), but our guide should provide most of the tips to help you advance in the beginning. For now, if you have any other strategies that you noticed were not included in this guide, please feel free to share them with us via the comment section below!