Cotton, the little witch who could, the queen of the cute em up and the victim of poor localisations crippling her deserved popularity around the world, Inin Games know this and teamed up with Rocket Engine Co to bring the world Cotton Reboot!, So grab a broom, a fist full of sweets and practice your spells, it’s witching hour.
Cotton Reboot is funnily enough a cleverly named remake/boot of Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams that originally saw release in arcades, the TurboGrafx 16 and the X68000 the latter being actually represented within this package.
Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams is a Shmup/STG of the “Cute ’em up” variety and involves our favourite witch Cotton on her mission to combine seven Willow sweets to make the ultimate sweet while accompanied by her fairy pal Silk.
Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams features quite an amusing story presented with well done anime style sprite work, plenty of amusingly written dialogue and feels honestly quite substantial for the genre in my opinion.
Cotton is a horizontal scrolling shooter where instead of traditional bombs you collect gems to level up your shot and different magical attacks which screen clear and offer invulnerability for a few seconds.
While initially a little more welcoming than most Shmups you can dial the difficulty up and things get plentiful in terms of stuff to dodge, enemies to destroy and lives to lose.
Cotton:Reboot is a generous soul and provides you with 3 different game modes, the Arranged mode is the actual reboot, X68000 is the original release in all its glory and fully translated and a Score Attack mode for all you Caravan mode kids.
Arranged mode features fully redone visuals, larger aspect ratio, arranged enemy placement, new attack patterns for all the bosses, “jewel fever” mode and the ability to split your shot when it hits the power up gems thus making this mode feel completely different to the original while familiar at the same time.
The jewel fever mode is built up by killing enemies using the stronger split shot created from shooting one of the gems, build this up and activate then anything you kill using that technique spawns a jewel which adds to your score, clever use of this will see Hi-Score dominance and extra lives for the tricky sections.
X68000 gives you the original version in all its glory, a stronger focus on surviving through the levels in this one than the mix of survival and score building. It has a totally different feel to that of the arranged mode and is well worth having representation here.
Finally Score Attack is your Caravan Mode, 2 or 5 minute runs using the Arranged engine, infinite lives and a high-score Leaderboard to get to the top of, ideal for quicker sessions as opposed to longer main game runs.
There is a fantastic in-game manual to read which shows off the intricacies of the game and some fantastic interactions between Silk and Cotton, there are also a plethora of options you can tweak from lives to difficulty though messing with lives and continuing negates your leaderboard submission.
Leaderboards are going to be a big reason to keep this game in rotation and fortunately there is an online leaderboard for EVERY mode and difficulty, something that will no doubt cause me to have several more sleepless nights going forward.
Unfortunately there isn’t a museum here to commemorate the series which I feel is a massive misstep especially being it’s starting to finally garner the interest it deserves.
Another thing I feel could have been done is maybe another version of Cotton to really sweeten the deal, while the Arrange mode is absolutely spot on what I would have given for an unlockable Panorama Cotton or at the very least the Neo Geo Pocket Colour version of Fantastic Night Dreams to give the package a little more heft.
What you have on offer here in Cotton: Reboot is one of the original and best “Cute Em Ups” packaged with a reimagined modern take with just as much charm and pull as the original did, it’s an entry level Shmup and one I feel anyone could enjoy and see what Shmupers actually get out of the genre.
While not quite the celebration of Cotton I had expected, this is easily a must buy for fans of the genre and series, even if you’re just slightly curious Cotton: Reboot! is one of the key titles of the genre available on the Nintendo Switch.
A fantastic cute em up, must buy for fans of the genre
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