Friday 26 November 2021

Cotton 100% (Switch Review)


Written by Dan Gill

Ratalaika is on a mission at the moment. It seems the publisher is determined to bring a load of 16-bit era shooters to modern platforms, and this can only be a good thing, even if some of the games themselves aren’t exactly classics, it’s nice to have some sense of preservation. Their recent releases of Cotton titles are appreciated, being the series never had a widespread release back in the 90s, and copies of the original carts fetch silly money these days.

Cotton 100% is the second game in the series about the eponymous witch. A side scrolling shooter with some light RPG elements, the game’s design is very much of the Parodius and Pop ‘n Twinbee camp, favouring bright, fantasy themed levels and cute character designs over the usual sci-fi fare that normally defines the genre. It looks good, too. The bright backgrounds and characters offer a refreshing change from the futuristic theme of most SCHMUPs, and even though things can get busy on screen, the backdrop never causes things in the fore to be missed. When things get really busy on screen, there is noticeable slowdown sadly, and it’s a shame this couldn’t have been fixed in the port.

The gameplay itself is pretty standard, but enjoyable enough. Cotton earns power ups (the type can be changed by shooting it repeatedly), and experience is earned through destroying enemies. If you manage to avoid losing lives, this ends up making Cotton death on broom. As such, the game can feel a little easy compared to other examples of the genre, and the power up system is a little simple when compared with Parodius’ Gradius-aping approach.

Along with the original game, there are some modern improvements as you’d expect of almost any reissue these days (screen filters, cheats, rewind and the like), but as with Panorama Cotton there’s no English script. Each level is preceded by a brief anime style intro relaying the story with Japanese text. It’s a shame an English translation is missing, as it would elevate the game from a decent port to something that feels more like a labour of love.

As it stands, with the removal of the usual barriers of the cost of an original copy of the game (or the moral dilemma of venturing down the emulation route), this is still a welcome release. The game - while different to most in the broader shoot ‘em up genre – isn't one that stands out than others in its niche field of cutesy shooters. It’s an enjoyable, pretty romp through what I’m sure is a fun story, and is worth a look, just expect to be charmed rather than challenged.


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