Though there are more popular “shmup” titles that players can choose from out there, one underrated franchise that hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit is Cotton. The die-hard collectors know this witch-laden series by heart, but it hasn’t really gotten a fair shake in the good ol’ U.S. of A. However, Inin Games is looking to change that with the fantastic Cotton Reboot!, a game that not only celebrates the upbringing of the series, but also provides a taste of something new to enthrall long-time fans. And, yes, it’s as delightfully weird as you’d expect it to be, as we deserve.
30 years after its initial arcade debut in 1991, Success’ shooter comes back stronger than ever, with some help from the developers at Beep and Rocket Engine. Once again, Cotton returns to blast enemies into oblivion, using a number of bewitching (ehhh?) super powers to allow her to decimate a few bosses as well. Helping her out is Silk, a bikini-clad elf who, at first, is adversaries with the powerful witch, but soon finds a common ground with her – candy, of course.
The game features seven stages of action, though you can actually divert paths, which keeps things from going too much in, ahem, one direction. Along the way, the variety of creatures you face is pretty cool, since most of them are off the wall – and definitely bonkers. For good measure, the boss battles are awesome, packing just the right amount of challenge. And, yes, they’re equal in weirdness.
What’s great about Cotton is how you can change the way you blast back with the help of crystals, which pop up constantly within the game. By blasting them or collecting them, you can change up your shooting dynamic pretty well, maybe even adding something you didn’t really expect. And the more jewels you collect, the higher your score gets, thanks to a handy multiplier. The more you collect, the more powerful you become, and the more loaded your score gets. Win, win.
The game is actually based upon the 1993 X68000 (look it up, kids) version of the game, but is entirely remade, and better than ever. The visuals are spectacular, lighting up like a fireworks display at times with a number of bonkers enemies and firing types. It’s fun to watch, though, as you might expect, trying to make sense of it all may prove a little difficult. No matter, it’s a good time. Oh, and the original X68000 version is here as well, in all its glory, with a few additional CRT options. There are other modes as well, along with bonus unlockable characters. That’s really about it for bonus content, though that seems pretty loaded for a shooter like this.
Plus the audio is good. Cotton’s voice is a little too high strung at times (“TEA TIME!”), but the music is spot on and the sound effects are very good for a Japanese shmup. It almost makes me want to dig out some classics from the 90s era for comparison.
While Cotton Reboot! may not make much sense for those that aren’t appreciative of shoot-em-ups, it’s a good blast from the past when it comes to revisiting the series. The new Arrange mode is awesome and really shows off some great detail; the bonus goodies are worth unlocking; and the presentation is pretty cool for a game of this type. Even if you’ve never heard of Cotton before, you owe it to yourself to give it a look. Who knows, she just might win you over. Or maybe Silk will. Or maybe they both will…?