Review – Cotton Fantasy

ININ Games is known for being a publisher focused on bringing back older Japanese franchises to the spotlight, usually by initially assessing fan demand with a remaster or retro collection of a specific game, and then greenlighting a reboot or a sequel once they are sure there’s enough people out there willing to buy a brand new outing in a series. One of said franchises is Cotton, a previously niche-as-hell cute ’em up series mostly tied to the Mega Drive and Japanese computers. After releasing a reboot of the original game, as well as a pseudo-remaster of the faux-3D Panorama Cotton, ININ Games is finally publishing a brand new outing in the franchise, Cotton Fantasy.

Cotton Fantasy

Sure, this is a pretty background. Too bad the level lasts for like a minute or two.

Cotton Fantasy is not different from other games in the franchise when it comes to its gameplay. This is still a very easy bullet hell shooter, with an emphasis on giving players one hell of a power fantasy, shoving you with special moves and unbelievably strong weapons in order to destroy every single pitifully weak enemy in front of you, bosses included. No matter the difficulty you choose, levels are short, powerups are plentiful, and bosses are easy to beat, with easy attack patterns to learn.

Were Cotton Fantasy just another linear Cotton game, with just one playable character, with this new graphical style (the first properly polygonal take on the series), I don’t think I would have considered it that groundbreaking. It would have been yet another one-and-done shooter, the kind that shows up in droves every single week on the eShop. The new additions are its level structure, presentation, and most importantly, character roster. Yep, you read that right, a character roster.

Cotton Fantasy Cutscenes

Tons of hilarious cutscenes in between levels.

Not only does the game feature the franchise’s traditional witch protagonist, but it also features some new kawaii characters to play as, each one with specific weapons, pros and cons. In addition, there are some guests from other franchises, such as Umihara Kawase. This, combined with the fact that each character has her own non-linear campaign filled to the brim with hilarious (and fully voiced) cutscenes, results in a game that is way more replayable than I could have anticipated. The soundtrack is still decent, but not overly exciting, like other Cotton games, but the voice acting (still in Japanese only) has been improved a lot, both in terms of quantity and quality.

The only thing you have to pay a bit attention to at first is the somehow confusing button placement. The controls themselves are decent, but are just weirdly assigned to buttons we westerners aren’t that used to. For instance, A is your main gun button, not Y. It’s but a matter of getting used to these commands. Once you’re set, you’ll be greeted with pure, unadulterated catharsis.

Cotton Fantasy Bosses

Bosses in Cotton Fantasy are as threatening as a Slime enemy in a JRPG.

Just like other games in the franchise, Cotton Fantasy is not meant to be challenging. It’s yet another cathartic power fantasy of a shooter, where you’re given an excessive amount of weapons to wreak havoc against some of the cutest enemies in the genre. Even if the polygonal visuals aren’t as charming as the graphics in previous games, the sheer amount of playable characters, as well as its nonlinear structure, make this game the single most replayable Cotton title out there. Bullet hell enthusiasts with Switches, this one’s a no-brainer for you.

Graphics: 7.5

A more polygonal take on the Cotton franchise. It loses a bit of its charm as a result, but it’s still really pleasing to the eyes. It also runs incredibly well on the Switch.

Gameplay: 8.5

The button placement is a bit weird at first, but once you get used to it, you’ll be greeted with a simple and effective power fantasy of a bullet hell shooter.

Sound: 7.5

The soundtrack is still decent, but not overly exciting, like other Cotton games, but the voice acting (still in Japanese only) has been improved a lot, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Fun Factor: 8.0

It is nowhere near as challenging as other bullet hell shooters, but it makes up for it with its adorable roster, replay factor, and the power fantasy it provides.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Cotton Fantasy is available now on PS4 and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Cotton Fantasy was provided by the publisher.