Cotton dates back to the early 90’s and has had several releases across numerous consoles until Rainbow Cotton on the Dreamcast in 2000. The series has been dormant for a while until its recent revival with a few remasters last year, and now we have an actual new release in the series. Does it manage to recapture the witches magic? Lets take a look.
The willows are vanishing from Fairyland and the Fairy Queen tasks Silk with solving the mystery. Who could be so sinister as to behind this devious ploy? For a promised all-you-can-eat supply of tasty willows, the little witch Cotton is willing to help her old friend out and embark on another adventure together, to save the Fairyland.
Story is honestly not that much different from previous games, but I was expecting much else. Presentation for the story is fantastic though as it uses fully voiced semi-animated scenes that ooze character – some of Cottons expressions are genuinely amusing. The story doesn’t really get in the way of the action, so there’s plenty of stages (up to 16) and a good roster of 6 unique characters to keep you replaying until you’ve had your fill – or topped all the leaderboards
When this dropped in to review I fired up Cotton II on the Saturn and was relatively pleased to see this new release keeps most of the same charm. Things are a little more colourful now though, and character designs are obviously much more detailed. Each of the stages offer a different environment and look good enough without being chaotic to potentially distract you.
Sound is reminiscent of previous games as it contains remastered tracks, with voiced story segments as well, so no problems with that side of the presentation. No problems with performance either, the game was pretty solid when playing portable so docking didn’t really provide any boost – doesn’t even seem to have a resolution boost either. The one upside to docking is controls. The Mario Power A controller I use docked felt much better for this type of game then the joycons. You can get by with the joycon sure, but its not ideal.
Comparing to Cotton II on the Saturn (the last Cotton I recently played) this new release still retains that same feel the old version had – minus the exquisite Saturn dpad for ultimate control. You blast your way through stages to fight a boss at the end, typical of the genre, but cotton does do a couple of things different. You’ll notice gems of various colours flying out from defeated foes and these form the cornerstone of your attacks. The different colours denote a different element, red is fire and green is wind for example, and these can change up your attacks drastically. There’s also yellow gems to level up your character to increase attack power and the magic/boost abilities you’ll also have access to. All similar to older Cotton games, even down to the stage ending Tea Time to boost score and life points.
Variety comes in the form of numerous characters to play as, each with their own playstyle to offer something different, and the different ways to play you can unlock. There’s a couple of witches other than Cotton (Luffee from Doki Doki Poyacchio being one) that have their own attack style, a couple of mecha characters that attack and level up those attacks differently, with a guest appearance from Umihara Kawase to round off the roster. Each character offers something a little different to make new runs worthwhile so long as you get to grips with their playstyle quick. That’s because, my only real gripe I guess, there’s a hefty difficulty jump from the chilled opening Castle Garden stage to any you pick after in the original run. Cotton II had a linear progression of stages with increasing difficulty, so this change can kind of throw off older fans like myself too.
While I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a big fan of the shmup genre, I’ve always had a soft spot for Cotton as its a cute series that doesn’t always play the same. This new release in the series feels like an amalgamation of what’s come before, offering different movement types like several previous games, and adding in a decent roster of unique characters to keep you coming back for more. As a Cotton fan its almost perfect, though there are some niggles, but if you’re after a meaty shmup or have played the recent Cotton remasters – then this should be right up your street.
An almost perfect mix of old & new that should please both the new fans and those with the series since the 90’s.