Release Date: July 20th, 2021
Developer: Rocket-Engine Co.,Ltd.
Publishers: United Games Entertainment GmbH, Beep
Genres: Shoot 'em up, Side-scrolling
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows
"Review Copy Provided By ININ Games"
The “cute‘em up” genre has been around for over 30 years and if you’re not familiar with what that is then just know that it basically is what happens when you trade out airships and aliens/monsters with cutesy anime characters and trade out desolate worlds/space for cute and vibrant backgrounds and there you go. The Cotton series began all the way back in 1993 with the original Cotton on the Sharp XR68000 computer and went on to spawn sequels in Cotton 100%, Panorama Cotton, Magical Night Dreams: Cotton 2, Cotton Boomerang, and finally Rainbow Cotton all on various platfomrs from the Super Famicom (SNES) to the PlayStation, Saturn, and finally the Dreamcast. With the franchise being dormant for nearly 26 years the question now is does this reboot do more than offer a face lift of modern graphics and bring this old franchise into the modern era or does it simply fall flat and fades back into the lost echoes of time? Let’s find out!
The world has lost the morning light due to a curse that has occurred causing the Sun to no longer rise in the sky. Darkness blankets the world and there is nothing but eternal night. Nata De Cotton, a young witch, happens to be strolling about a forest and encounters a fairy named Silk who then pleads with her to help save the fairy kingdom and, by proxy, the world. Cotton is completely uninterested in this and is aloof to the world around her as all she wants is to eat these candies known as “Willows. Realizing that she needs to act fast, Silk “stretches the truth” of the “reward” of Willows that Cotton will receive if she helps her. Only being concerned about eating Willows, Cotton accepts and off her and Silk go on their adventure.
Considering this is a SHMUP (or CMUP); the primary goal is to survive the endless onslaught of bullets headed at you and make it to the end of the level to face the end boss. There are seven levels in total that you will find yourself going through which will bring about unique challenges. You fly about the screen pressing Square to shoot straight ahead while Triangle activates Fever Mode which is a score multiplier while \ Circle activate your Magic/Screen Nuke abilities.
As you shoot down enemies, they end up dropping gem shards which work to raise the experience gauge at the bottom of the screen which increases the level of your various Magic abilities such as a screen nuke like lightning attack, a laser attack that destroys everything in front of you, and so much more. The gems you gain will level up these abilities as well as the usage of these will drain that same bar so make sure you use magic sparingly.
Silk will act as your companion and fight at your side of which you can gain the help of a few more helpers that will aid you in battle and help you clean house with the baddies that come against you.
Boss and mid-level boss fights are pretty epic with you fighting a near half screen like enemy that can wreck you in mere moments if you aren’t quick to catching on to their patterns. Make sure you aren’t at the edge of the screen on the right side when you get to their lairs as many times they will appear on screen and straight devastate you costing you a life.
By default, you start the game with 3 lives “per coin” and when you die you can restart right where you died allowing you to get right back into the fight.
The games graphics are pretty stellar with such vibrancy. The levels are incredibly colorful with tons of enemies and explosions and more. Cotton’s sprite looks every bit as good as the 93’ original and Silk looks awesome even if she doesn’t animate much. Each enemy looks incredibly different and varied from one to another and despite all the chaos of the battlefield, each one stands out from not only the backgrounds but also from one another and the endless streams of bullets swarming towards you.
Each level is substantially different from one to the next with such locales such as a city with a scary demon moon in the background to a desolate graveyard guarded by the Grim Reaper to a volcanic wasteland; there’s no two levels that are the same.
What’s added to this game is the ability to choose between playing the game in the Arranged Mode with the updated graphics and newer UI and HUD on the upper and lower sections of the screen or playing the 93 original in the XR68000 version complete with the original 4:3 aspect ratio and graphics.
While each level has an excellent OST arrangement remixed by several different composers; due to the amount of explosions and voice clips you won’t really be able to appreciate how golden this OST is.
There is voice acting for each of the cutscenes and even during gameplay, however, unless you understand Japanese then you won’t really understand what is being said and given that I don’t speak Japanese I can’t really tell you if the voice acting is good or not.
There aren’t any real downsides to this game in my opinion. Sure, you could argue that this game is pretty easy especially with the unlimited continues on normal and especially Easy but that’s a very minor thing if you ask me.
The price of the game being 39.99$ at the time of release can be of putting to many who aren’t fans of SHMUPS but then again this is a game marketed towards fans of the franchise and the SHMUP genre.
Honestly, there is nothing I can say that’s a real downside to this game.
I’m always happy seeing franchises from my youth in the 90’s return in the modern era and be given a second chance at life and im even more elated when I see that they do exceptionally well with modern audiences and bring back a lot of us old heads who grew up with these games. Seeing the cute’em up genre be brought back with one of the icons of that genre in Cotton is an absolute joy to see and I am incredibly happy with my time with this title. With incredibly tight controls, seven incredibly diverse levels, a superb soundtrack, and beautiful graphics with the option to play the original release make Cotton Reboot one of the best SHMUPs I’ve played in 2021 and a game I highly recommend!