Also available on PlayStation 4 and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/28/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Cotton Reboot! is a remastered release of the 1993 cute-em-up Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams originally released for the Sharp X68000 (aside from the arcade original, that is). As a sub-genre of shmups that crosses the frantic and addicting arcade shooter action with adorable anime girls, I’m a huge fan of cute-em-up games. While I had never experience Cotton before, I’ve certainly heard of it, so when I saw that this was getting a retail release on Switch in North America, I pretty much immediately pre-ordered it.
The original Cotton had a lot of different ports to a lot of different systems, but the reason that they chose to port the X68000 version as opposed to, say, the SNES or Saturn version, is because it is widely considered to have the best visuals not to mention a host of exclusive features and content. This reboot release includes a straight port of the X68000 version alongside a newly remastered version that gave redrew all of the sprites with gorgeous and more modern visuals as well as putting a higher emphasis on the score, something arcade enthusiasts are sure to love. There are also some tweaks made to the game’s balance and overall feel, so it’s absolutely worth playing through both the remastered version and the X68000 original.
One of the great things about the two included versions and the more score-centric focus of the remastered version is that it gives an otherwise very short game some solid replay value; there are only six stages plus an end boss, so you can clear a playthrough in under an hour. If you try to keep besting your high score, though, you find a lot of incentive to replay. You also unlock other playable characters after clearing the game once, so that adds some additional replay incentive. Also – and most importantly – it’s just a generally super fun and charming game all around.
Cotton Reboot! is an exemplar of how to re-release a classic arcade game in a big standalone package. Many would argue – and reasonably so – that a game this short should be an inexpensive digital-only title rather than a $40 physical release, but I think there’s some value to be had here. Cotton is a pretty well-known and highly regarded IP among shmup fans, and the presentation here is absolutely top-notch. The performance is super fluid outside of some occasional slowdown in the X68000 version, and while the remastered Arrange mode can get so hectic that it’s a little hard to see what exactly is going on, it’s got a distinct rhythm that you can get a feel for. This definitely isn’t a perfect remaster, but it does show that you can release a short arcade game in a way that gives more value than one might first think. I’m a big fan of Cotton as a character and as a game having played through this, and I hope this reboot is used as a launch pad to revive the series in earnest.