Cotton Fantasy Nintendo Switch Review

If you have a Switch, and you like fun, don’t sleep on Cotton Fantasy.

By LG18, Posted 14 Jun 2022

I'd argue Cotton is the quintessential title in the cute-em-up sub-genre – a style which, as the name suggests, takes the bullet hell of arcade-style shoot-em-up and accentuates it with vibrant colors and adorable characters.

It's been a good time for Cotton fans recently. Cotton Reboot – a remake of the original game – showed the world how mesmerizing the aesthetic and gameplay could be with the benefit of modern graphics. And now we have Cotton Fantasy – a wholly new entry for the series that fans have been waiting well over a decade to see. 

The real question on everyone's minds was what the developers could offer that was distinct from every other release. I'm glad to say they accomplished this task with flying colors – quite literally.
 

Cotton Fantasy, Nintendo Switch, Review, Level 3 Cotton Fantasy, Cute-'Em-Up, Cotton, Retro, Shmup, Shoot-'Em-Up, Gameplay, NoobFeed
 

The first thing you'll notice when you launch the main game is the 3D visuals. The series' anime-style visuals are still present in the cutscenes (and they look fantastic, by the way), but I really liked the new look. For me, it made distinguishing what was going on easier: an aspect I found problematic with the admittedly beautiful but complex visuals of Cotton Reboot (and shoot-em-ups in general). 

And the visuals aren't the only welcome alteration. The new game does an excellent job at easing the player in, making for an entry that isn't quite as overbearingly intense as other Cotton titles. That's not to say you'll have it easy, of course. This is a shmup, after all, and Cotton Fantasy's excellent single-player campaign will put you through your paces, no doubt. 

There are three difficulty modes: normal, hard, and extra. You'll be able to play any mode with unlimited continues, but you won't be able to retain your score post continue.

It's a diverse challenge from start to finish in Cotton Fantasy, offering more variety than we've seen in other entries – perhaps owing to the illusion of three-dimensional spaces. To discuss the twists and turns would be to spoil the surprise, but rest assured they are plentiful, tense, and delightful. One moment everything will depend on twitch reflexes to maneuver Cotton through nail-bitingly tight speedways, but then you'll find yourself placing all importance on your attack stamina as you power through an expansive boss battle.

Every boss battle I encountered differed significantly from the last in terms of their superb art direction and how they reinvent the combat wheel. It keeps you on your toes, and with the shmup genre not often praised for its variety, it's exactly what a brand new Cotton title needed to be. Normal and Hard are adequately challenging in their own right, whilst extra is just as the name implies: enemies will explode into a flurry of bullets, significantly ramping up the challenge.
 

Cotton Fantasy, Nintendo Switch, Review, Score multiplier Cotton, Cute-'Em-Up, Cotton, Retro, Shmup, Shoot-'Em-Up, Gameplay, NoobFeed
 

Notably, Cotton Fantasy isn't as linear as other shmups. At the end of each level, you're given the opportunity to choose where to go next, and there are always different paths to take. This meant that no two play thoughts have to be the same, enabling a degree of individuality to the way you want to beat the game. Even with the most addictive of arcade shoot-em-ups, they don't allow for the same degree of freedom and experimentation as is found here.

Cotton's story is more or less the same as it is in every entry. The young witches' beloved 'Willow' candies have mysteriously gone missing, and naturally, she'll go to the ends of the earth to get them back. I can't really complain about it being the same old tale; having played most of the other entries in the series, I think I'd be disappointed at this point to have it any other way. It's worth noting that the story maintains the same plot regardless of your chosen character, though, which I thought was a bit of a missed opportunity.

 I've already spoken about the graphics, but the cutscene art and animations have to be given credit. I was impressed with how sharp and vibrant everything looked, and while the animations were pretty basic, they made the scenes much more lively than they were in previous games. The music was also as excellent as it always is: The series' distinct brand of epic scoring brings the action to a boiling point every time, and no matter how many times I replayed it, I somehow never got bored of hearing the same tunes. 

Cotton Fantasy is a game that, at first glance, seems rather bare-bones with its one main mode, but it's really a case of quality over quantity. There's so much depth in the campaign that to start adding new modes would take away from its robustness. It's testimony to the notion that sometimes, maybe usually, all that extra stuff is just filler. If the core experience offers all the replayability, you could ask for, then you don't need a ton of additional modes of play.
 

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I do not doubt that this is the ultimate Cotton experience fans have been waiting for. It hits it out of the park in almost every sense, and it's by far the best title in the series I've had the pleasure of playing. This is a great choice for any shmup fan or anyone new to the genre: the carefully balanced difficulty modes and option for unlimited continues mean that anyone can enjoy it, but there's also ample scope for would-be experts to hone their graft and gain their bragging rights. It's also a game testimony to the Nintendo Switch as the ultimate platform for the genre. These games may have been born in the arcade, but given their pick-up-and-play nature, they were made for a system like this.

If you have a Switch and like fun, don't sleep on Cotton Fantasy.
 

Linden Garcia (@garcia_linden),
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PS4, Switch, PC
Publisher(s): Success, United Games Entertainment GmbH
Developer(s): Success
Genres: Shoot-'Em-Up
Themes: Cute-'Em-Up, Action, Shooter
Release Date: 2022-05-20

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