Broomsticks And Lights And Everything Nice

HIGH Classic shmup gameplay…

LOW …including the classic repetition.

WTF The fanservice gets kind of weird.

The original Magical Night Dreams Cotton first appeared on the X6800 computer in Japan back in 1991, and went on to enjoy a surprising degree of longevity throughout the years. The series would go on making appearances on a diverse array of platforms like the Sega Genesis and the NeoGeo Pocket. Now this shoot-’em-up goes back to its roots with a reimagining of the very first title in Cotton Reboot!

Cotton is considered the first classic “cute-’em-up” — essentially, it’s a classic 2D side scrolling shoot-’em-up with appropriately cute visual design instead of the usual spaceships and menacing aliens. Gameplay is as standard as it gets for the genre, as in the player destroys everything in sight and tries not to get hit. There isn’t much to the story, as it’s just a pretext for the hero, a witch, to traverse Cotton‘s various stages.

The Reboot! offers both the original X68000 classic in all its pixelized glory and a redrawn “Arrange” option in 16:9 with a completely new soundtrack. The only other extra is a “Caravan” mode, which gives the player two or five minutes to rack up as many points as possible for high score boasting. Despite being mostly the same title, for better or worse, the option to play the original is a very welcome addition to the package.

Gameplaywise, Cotton offers classic mechanics. The witch Nata de Cotton flies on her broom while shooting, and she has a fairy sidekick, which – by collecting up to three fairies – will add firepower to Nata’s basic attack. Lose a life and Nata’s shot power gets cut in half. Killed enemies drop gems which can be collected to add special effects to the basic attack, but can also be shot while on the screen to widen our shot range.

The new “Arrange” mode isn’t just a graphical overhaul. The gameplay here has been slightly tweaked to feel more modern and satisfying by making it more difficult overall, along with a faster pace. Additionally, Nata’s shot power is enhanced and a “fever mode” has also been added — this is a bonus mode where the player has a brief time to collect score multipliers by destroying as many enemies as possible.

Graphically, Arrange looks mighty gorgeous despite some of the busier moments devolving into a kaleidoscope of colors that make it hard to detect and dodge incoming projectiles. As for the original x68000 version, the graphics are clear and it’s much prettier than I remembered. I’m not sure if they ported or emulated it, but the results are impressive nonetheless.

Thanks to the addition of unlimited continues, seeing all the stages in Cotton Reboot! will take half an hour, but then again, shoot-’em-up fans aren’t generally in the genre to roll credits. No, it’s all about getting the mechanics down and competing for the highest scores via online leaderboards. In this sense, Cotton Reboot! delivers.

Cotton Reboot! is an efficient repackage of the original with a new mode that isn’t just a simple graphical overhaul, but a reworked and more modern way of playing. The love and care taken here is appreciated! On the other hand, due to the fact that it’s currently listed at a surprisingly high price point and offers no supplementary/archival materials or unlockables to increase its appeal as a historical offering, this one comes recommended only to dedicated fans of ‘cute’ and cute-’em-ups.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Rocket Engine and published by Inin Games. It is currently available on Switch and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on Switch. Approximately 2 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: The game is rated E by the ESRB, for Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. Despite some fanservice, the enemies in the game all look cute and the overall experience could be recommended for an audience older than 10 years old.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available. Also, in Arrange Mode, it might get difficult to understand what’s going on since there are definitely more enemies and more things going on than in the Original mode.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The game features cutscenes with subtitles. Text cannot be altered or resized. No audio cues are needed for gameplay. In my view, the game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: The controls are remappable.

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