Game: Cotton 100%
Genre: Action, Arcade
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Ratalaika Games, Success | ININ Games
Age Rating: EU 7+ | US Everyone
Price: US $14.99 | UK £12.99 | EU € 12,99
Release Date: October 29th, 2021
Review code provided with many thanks to PR Hound
Cottoms Second Game
Cotton 100% was originally released in 1998 for the Super Famicon and is the second installment of the Cotton franchise. But like so many games these titles would stay in Japan unless you were a fan of importing games and had a decent amount of expendable income. However, 2021 appears to be the year for the Cotton games making their way over to the West to charm a new fanbase. But is this retro title still worth your time all these years later? Let’s grab a broomstick and find out.
Once again you play as the young witch Cotton. Still hungry for sugary treats known as Willows. With her fairy buddy Silk she must traverse several levels filled with enemies and bosses with the promise she will be rewarded with that sweet candy she craves. A simple plot for a cute em up style shooter. Unfortunately for this Western release the story is only presented in Japanese subtitles which is quite a shame. Sure, the story is not exactly hard to figure out, but it seems silly English subtitles were not added for those that want to appreciate the banter between Cotton and Silk.
2D Cute Em Up
Cotton 100% is a 2D game that basically plays as a space shooter. But since the graphics and game design are overloaded with so much colour and adorable vibes this game type is often given the title ‘Cute em Up.’ But then why would you not call it that? As well as Cotton and Silk even the enemies look kinda adorable. The pixel graphics have so much colour and bright sparkles that if this game was a type of food it would be the equivalent of a desert with dangerous amounts of sugar. But to me this is a good thing. Even today, in modern gaming, not a lot of games can pull off this look and make you smile. Cotton 100% is certainly the top of the class with its style.
A Formulaic Retro Formula
The gameplay is quite simple, pick up and play, much like an arcade game. Before you begin the game you can choose between four play styles which let you select the type of spells you can use in the campaign. Having this variation gives some incentive to replay the game with a different variation. The campaign itself is a pretty standard affair for a Cotton game. Fly through each level on your broomstick shooting down enemies. You have a standard shot, which fires straight ahead. Bombs which are useful to take out sneaky enemies below you. You can also collect fairies and switch their position about to better direct your shots. If you collect some crystals you can select a spell to attack enemies or act as a defensive barrier to protect you. Take one hit and you lose a life but you will instantly restart where you left off. But lose everything and it’s back to the begging, the old retro way.
Every level has two boss fights which gradually increase in challenge the further you progress in the game, but make for nice conclusions to each level. It’s a formulaic retro formula but I really liked the flow of this game. In theory you can quite easily get through this entire game in under an hour but there was never a moment I was bored. Reaching the end of the level and having the game fire off its mini game Tea Time, where you collect falling lanterns to up your high score, felt like a great way to top off each level and syc you up for the next.
The developers of this version of the game have added some modern quality of life improvements to this Western release. For starters you have a few graphic filters to use such as CRT and pixel perfect if you like that sort of thing. But the main features are save states, a rewind feature which instantly lets you rewind gameplay to correct a mistake. These are pretty standard for retro re-releases these days. Once you finish the campaign you also unlock cheats like invincibility and unlimited lives. It seems a little odd you have to unlock these. They seem to appeal more to gamers struggling with the game as opposed to gamers who like a challenge. Overall, the offerings here seem acceptable but also lacking.
It’s great to see Cotton 100% come over to the West in such a big way. In 2021 we were lucky to receive 5 games in the Cotton series on Nintendo Switch. As someone who never got to appreciate the series before it has kinda made me feel like a kid again. I was getting to experience these games for the very first time as if I was playing them on their old retro systems of origin.
The trouble is, it really feels like these games should have been released as a collection as opposed to a separate release. The price point also just feels a bit high making these appeal more to the dedicated Cotton fans over an impulse purchase for gamers testing the water for the first time. There have been several retro re-releases from the likes of M2 and Hamster that have released individual retro games cheaper and on some occasions more options. If you do want to test out this series Cotton 100% is a good place to start or Cotton Reboot released earlier this year.
Final Verdict: I Like it a Lot