Cotton 30th Anniversary Double Feature!

“Cotton” is a series of 2-D horizontally scrolling shooters that were very popular in the 90’s during the 16- and 32-bit eras.  They star a candy-obsessed witch girl named Cotton who flies on her broom as she shoots down foes in spooky yet silly settings.  It’s an example of the “Cute ‘Em Up” subgenre of shooters similar to titles like Twinbee, Parodius, Fantasy Zone, or Ordyne.  And now it’s Cotton’s 30th anniversary!  Of course, this may not mean much to many gamers, as Cotton was never released outside Japan…until now!  Earlier this year we got Cotton Reboot!, which I reviewed a couple of months ago.  And now we are getting two re-releases of classic 16-bit Cotton games: Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton!  They’re available to download on PS4 and Switch, but reviewed on PS4 here.

Cotton 100%

This was a Super Famicom (Japanese SNES) release.  It’s a standard 2-D side scrolling shooter, but it’s not based on the arcade game or anything.  It’s its own thing.  You move around with the left stick and shoot everything that moves.  Hold down the fire button to shoot, and another button drops bombs and charges shots.  You can also collect different colored crystals that give you a special magic shot for clearing out lots of enemies, and you can hold up to five of them.  Defeat enemies in seven colorful levels and then go for the final boss!  Totally something I would’ve rented back in the day if it were on the SNES.

Panorama Cotton

This was a Mega Drive (Japanese SEGA Genesis) game and it’s pretty mind blowing.  Instead of being side scrolling, it’s an over the shoulder shooter similar to something like Space Harrier.  Except I think I like this game a little more than Space Harrier, and that’s saying something!  The 3-D effects they pulled off on this 16-bit system back then are amazing, and there are branching pathways, too! You have a fire button to mow down enemies, and another button switches speed.  Although I usually just go on the slowest setting.  Like in other Cotton games, you collect crystals for magic spells you can use to defeat enemies in a pinch.  You have a life bar in this one, which is nice.  Again, the graphics and 3-D effects in this one are awesome!

In each game, you can choose a mode that lets you rewind, which is nice.  Or you can choose a mode that doesn’t let you do that, if you’re a purist.  Both modes have their own set of trophies.  The problems I had with these games are very minor.  In Cotton 100%, the graphics are almost TOO colorful and makes it hard to see enemies sometimes.  And Panorama Cotton is too short at only five stages.  And since both games were Japan only, you won’t know what’s going on in the story unless you can read Japanese.  But if you want some cute 16-bit shooter goodness, you still can’t go wrong with these two.

Kid Factor:

Both games are rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes.  You shoot cartoony enemies that explode in a puff of smoke when defeated, and if you get hit, you’ll just fly off your broom, but that’s about as violent as it gets.  Cotton has a fairy friend named Silk who is rather underdressed in the games, so I guess that’s where the suggestive themes come from.  I grew up with these kinds of games and I turned out OK, though.

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