Cotton Reboot (Feature Review) Nintendo Switch

Cotton Reboot (Feature Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Helping to establish the cute ‘em up subgenre, Cotton by developer Success has spanned across the ages. The first game in the series, Cotten: Fantastic Night Dreams, first launched as a coin-op in 1991. This ground-breaking shooter would eventually see success outside the arcade, as it was ported to console systems like the Turbografx CD, Sony PlayStation, SNK’s Neo-Geo Pocket and the Japanese Sharp X68000 computer.  A sequel of sorts would follow three years later in 1994, called Cotton 100%, for both the Super Famicom and Playstation. As the years went on, seven additional  games were released in the series for various platforms. At this point in the series’ history, the popularity of the franchise cannot be denied. 

Thus enters Cotton Reboot for Nintendo Switch. This release is a remaster of the original 2D side-scrolling shooter with vastly improved graphics, sound and animation. The game mechanics that gamers fell in love with have remained virtually untouched in this release, minus a few tweaks here and there. In addition, the game includes the original Sharp X68000 version, along with a plethora of options that can change the overall game experience for the remastered version. For starters, the ‘Options’ menu is where the player can increase (or decrease) the number of available lives (i.e. there’s a maximum of 9); enable/disable the ‘Event Demo’; change the game’s difficulty; and enable/disable the ‘Player’s Hit Display’. 

The game’s ‘Main Menu’ contains two games – Arrange Mode (which is Cotton Reboot) and X68000 Mode (the classic version that appeared on the Sharp X68000 computer). Also occupying the Main Menu is Time Attack (which is self-explanatory), Rankings (offline and online), the previously mentioned ‘Options’ menu, and the Game Manual.

Arrange mode is everything a fan of the Cotten series could hope for. The classic 2D shmup mechanics remain intact, along with 7 stages of intense, bull hell action. The intermissions that explain Nata de Cotton’s mission (or rather ‘obsession’) to obtain all 7 components to a candy called ‘Willows’, is just as entertaining — and tongue-in-cheek — as one might imagine.

Gameplay is akin to most 2D shooters: it contains relentless — arcade-like bullet hell action — that is complimented by enemies that move at breakneck speeds. Notably different in this remastered version is Cotten’s primary default shot, which has a wider spread. Her speed has also been increased, making it easier for the player to avoid the endless onslaught of enemies that appear on screen.

Since the action is fast and unforgiving, the game allows for rapid fire by just holding down the Y button. Moreover, the player can collect different gems that fall off defeated enemies !to build their attack meter. It’s also possible to shoot gems repeatedly until they change color. For example – orange and yellow gems increase the player’s Exp gauge, while blue and red gems can summon lightning and firebombs respectively. In Arrange mode, there are two exclusive gems — purple and green. The purple gem produces giant, nuke-like explosions and green causes giant boulders to rain down on enemies. Moreover, these ‘bombs’ can be leveled up three times by collecting additional green gems (thus increasing the prowess of said attack).

The player can create ‘black gems’ by shooting existing gems until they cycle through all their colors. Each gem is worth 10,000 points. When collected, they will multiply. However, shooting these gems too many times will ‘break’ the scoring streak they create. Most importantly, using a secondary ‘bomb’ attack will convert all the on-screen gems to black gems, which in turn sends these gems automatically to the player.

If the player can survive the boss encounters at the end of each level, they are greeted by ‘Tea Time; a quick mini game that involves collecting tea canisters for additional points. In fact, Gamers who enjoy chasing that ‘high score’ will appreciate how Cotton Reboot’s game mechanics are centered around challenging, but uniquely different scoring methods. 

Once the player completes Arrange mode, the game will unlock Appli-Ke Pumpkin and Needle as playable characters. When the game is played with one of these characters, Cotton’s story (i.e. intermissions) will be absent. Sadly, neither Appli-Ke Pumpkin nor Needle are given a backstory. Disappointingly, this feels like a missed opportunity to expand on the Cotton universe. Maybe developer Beep found it unnecessary to expand these characters, even though it would have been nice to see. At least the game plays as expected, sans the story and intermissions.

The provided Sharp X68000 version of Cotton is essentially the same game without the ‘remastered’ enhancements. The controls and game mechanics are essentially the same, but the gameplay is more focused on shooting than collecting gems. Moreover, the in-game action feels a bit sluggish when compared to the modern, remastered version. This is clearly the result of how different the shmup genre was back in the day. Most (but not all) shooters played at manageable speeds (i.e. think Darius Salamander, R-Type, etc.,) and it wasn’t until much later that shooters evolved into the intense, Bullet Hell outings they are today. But with that aside, the Sharp X68000 version of Cotton is still worth playing as a secondary title, especially after the ‘remastered’ has been defeated.

As of late, the Nintendo Switch has become the console of choice for developers looking to revive older franchises. While there are too many of these games to mention in a single review, Cotton Reboot is clearly a testament of this fact (even if these revived IPs eventually end up on different platforms; the majority of these titles seem to launch on the Nintendo Switch first).

With that said, Cotton Reboot for Nintendo Switch is a phenomenal shooter that feels more like a sequel than a ‘remaster’ of an original game. The additional content Cotton Reboot provides (i.e. Time Attack, the X68000 version of the game, etc.) not only adds to the game’s longevity, but its fun factor as well. The unlockable characters are a nice addition, too — making Cotton Reboot a must-have for shmup fans everywhere

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Beep
Publisher: ININ Games
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $39.99
Size: 2.7GB

Cotton Reboot Official Website:

Review Score
The 2D graphics are beautifully remastered.
A rockin' sound track and remastered effects enhance the experience.
Challenging to play, but hard to put down.
Cotton Reboot should be in every shmup fan's Nintendo Switch game library.
Comments are closed.