Release date: October 29, 2021
Players: 1 player
Genre: Arcade, Adventure, Action
Publisher: ININ Games
"Review Copy Provided By ININ Games"
It’s always strange as someone who grew up in the 80’s/90’s and seeing how games were reviewed then in contrast to how modern gamers review games now because I have always been one to say that you can review a title in the scope of the era it came out in while also being able to also give a modern perspective of how well it holds up without bashing the game to oblivion. It seems modern reviewers are not able to often if ever do that as they look at every older game through a modern lens and that doesn’t do justice to the games that may have defined a genre. Panorama Cotton is one such game that is one that was incredibly unique during its initial release in 1994 and decided to experiment with the game play which is something developers frequently did in the early days of gaming aren’t that willing to do in gaming in the modern era yet is scrutinized heavily in 2021 with its rerelease on modern platforms. So, in this review I look to give you an honest and critical review of a game that may or may not be for you. Let’s dive right into it!
The best way to give you an idea of what Panorama Cotton plays like is to compare it to Space Harrier as it is honestly the biggest inspiration for this entry in the Cotton cute-em-up series. Another way to look at this game is to say that it’s the same Cotton you’ve played before except in a different perspective with you viewing the game from behind Cotton instead of from the traditional side scrolling perspective. You have the same ability to fire off your shots, build up your magic gauge to use magic attacks, gain experience by defeating enemies and collecting gems, switching between 3 different speeds for Cotton to fly at, and collecting tea for “Tea Time” after every boss battle.
Honestly, there isn’t really anything different here in Panorama Cotton in terms of gameplay other than the perspective change. Cotton controls very responsively and the levels are fairly challenging on the default normal mode.
The additions added to this update of the game is the ability to change the aspect ration of the game from the default 4:3 aspect ratio, Pixel Perfect, and a stretched image for 16:9. You can utilize save states to help you through the game’s levels with instantaneous loading back into the fray. Shot Overheat can be turned on and off along with a rewind functionality as well. There’s even an option for utilizing cheats once you’ve unlocked them in challenge mode.
So, what are some of the downsides of this game? Since the game has a different perspective, it makes it sometimes difficult to know where you should be moving to avoid being hit by the endless onslaught of onscreen bullets and there are even times where you will repeatedly be hit over and over and not be able to tell exactly what hit you and that has a lot to due with the lack of depth perception the game gives due to the parallax scrolling so everything on screen can seem as if there are stuttering towards you or appear to just pop up.
The other area I could say that the game can seem off in is that the levels can feel exceptionally longer than a standard Cotton title and that’s purely since you’re looking at the game from the “Panorama” perspective instead of from the side view. Next to the levels feeling long can be the fact that should you die you’ll not start from where you died but rather from the beginning of the level and since the levels are fairly lengthy this can feel like a slog especially on higher difficulties.
Last complaint I have is why is the story of the game not translated into English? Since I don’t read or understand Japanese I am unable to enjoy the comical antics of Cotton and the cast. What's even stranger is all the options in game are in English but the story isn’t. Odd.
So, do I recommend you pick up Panorama Cotton? If you are into the cute-em-up or shmup genre then yes, I think it is definitely worth it and also if you are a modern gamer who might be curious or enjoys games from a bygone era. If you are solely into modern gaming and modern gaming conventions, then this honestly won’t be for you. All in all, I find Panorama Cotton to be a great classic to be brought back decades later with a ton of replay value. Don’t sleep on the Cotton series which is making a comeback here in 2021!