Cotton Reboot! Nintendo Switch Review

Is this arcade revival worth your time?

By LG18, Posted 08 Aug 2021

Cotton Reboot! is what many consider to be a classic ‘cute ‘em Up’, which for those unfamiliar, is exactly what it sounds like: battleships and mechanized firepower swapped for adorable anime-style characters and enemies that burst into a rainbow of colors. 

While differing aesthetically from the classic shmup, the objective is still to shoot everything that moves and keep your finger firmly on the fire button at all times. I’ve played my fair share of shoot ‘em ups but I’d never heard of Cotton before. As denoted by the title, this version of the game is a remastering of the original 1991 release.

Cotton Reboot! Level 1

The plot is unsurprisingly ludicrous. Protagonist Cotton -- a young witch with a broomstick and everything -- bumps into a fairy in need called Silk whilst on a stroll through the forest. The fairy kingdom is under some cataclysmic threat, and Cotton is coerced into helping out so she can get her hands on some sweets (or ‘candy’ for our friends across the pond). We get several anime cutscenes interspersed throughout the action, and as stupid as the plot is, there’s something hilarious about a kid witch breezing her way through six stages of hell-fire because she has a sugar addiction. 

And yes, only six stages. This is an incredibly short game and something you can beat in about thirty minutes, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Each level is distinctly different, both in terms of the enemies and environments, and the boss battles at the end of each stage are awesome. While Cotton is a classic Cute ‘em Up, some of the enemy designs are pretty horrifying -- I mean look at these nightmarish rain clouds.

Rain clouds

It's a great one to play and beat on a short train journey, as many arcade titles are, and it's undoubtedly a visual feast. The lush colors and detailed art do come at a price, though. There’s usually a bewildering amount of projectiles being hurled your way, and when you then factor in your own magic missiles, dozens of floating gems, and relatively large enemy sprites, it’s incredibly hard to not get hit. Of course, that’s a huge part of the intentional challenge, but for me, this one went too far with it. 

I actually found the included X68000 version of the game far more enjoyable for that reason. This is the original version of the game (or rather a PC port of the original arcade release), and with smaller sprites and a more limited color palette, it’s easier to focus on the action. Sure it’s not as pretty, but if a remaster makes the gameplay less enjoyable, then what’s the point? Having said this, the original doesn’t include all the gameplay features as the reboot, and the new additions are actually pretty cool.

Original style

Cotton’s firepower is continually upgraded providing you don’t get hit, and collecting floating gems throughout the level offers special abilities. Most Shoot ‘em Ups I’ve played are stingy with the special powers, but this one allows you to use them very frequently. Some of these power-ups are new additions to the reboot.

Furthermore, the reboot allows you to use the floating gems as a weapon. Rather than simply collecting them, shooting through them first refracts your magic and triggers massive score bonuses; hitting these huge scores is as addictive as ever, and while the onscreen multiplier signage does add to the aforementioned distraction, it’s still very satisfying. Unfortunately, though, your score means very little. Online leaderboards don’t factor in continues -- a totally baffling design flaw that removes all relevance of achieving a high score in the first place. If there’s no distinction between those who beat the game with one set of lives and those that had unlimited attempts, what point is there in the leaderboard in the first place?

Boss battle

Cotton Reboot! spoils itself with several stupid decisions: the playability of the original is superior, but you miss out on the new mechanics of the reboot; huge score bonuses are always fun, but meaningless without a proper scoreboard; the new lick of paint looks brilliant, but also makes the gameplay a bit of a mess. The devs have done a great job with the art-making it easy to fall in love with the game visually, but as a whole product, it doesn’t knit together very well. A perfect version would be somewhere between the original and the reboot, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, it seems. The real kicker is the price -- this 30-minute game retails at roughly £30/$40. I had fun playing Cotton Reboot!, no doubt, but for what’s on offer for the price (or rather, what's missing), wait for a sale.

Linden Garcia,
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): Switch
Publisher(s): United Games Entertainment GmbH, Beep
Developer(s): Rocket-Engine Co.,Ltd.
Genres: Shoot-'Em-Up
Themes: Action, Sidescroller
Release Date: 2021-02-25

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