Overview – developed by Strictly Limited Games and Ratalaika Games with publishing handled by ININ Games, Cotton 100% is a port of the original Super Famicom exclusive shooter from 1994 by SUCCESS. This is the first time that Marchen Adventure Cotton 100% has been released in the west, finally allowing players to officially experience a magical chapter in the cotton franchise. This title is available on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, links to each version of the game will be at the bottom of this review.
Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank PR Hound who provided the copy of Cotton 100% that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.
Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review. I will be skipping the story segment since there is no official translation for the game as of this review. This release of Cotton 100% currently uses an untouched version of the original Japanese software, so I will be moving straight into the gameplay.
Gameplay – Marchen Adventure Cotton 100% is a scrolling shooter and a follow up to the original Cotton Fantastic Night Dreams, which I reviewed the remake of (HERE). As cotton the player is tasked with traversing seven stages, fighting monsters and collecting the gems they drop, all while trying to survive with a limited number of continues. Cotton starts with three lives by default losing one whenever she is hit, additional lives can be earned with a maximum of 9 that can be set in the options menu.
Cotton can use a selection of attacks to battle the foes that she comes across, with the power of her attacks changing with a simple leveling system. The attacks that the little witch can use are as follows;
- Cotton Shot – a standard bullet that can be fired at a rapid rate, with the power increasing as crystals are collected and Cotton is leveled up. The power can be lowered if the player is hit, potentially reducing Cotton’s experience level (this varies depending on difficulty).
- Bomb – an explosive weapon that drops onto the enemy in an arc. The damage is increased by collecting gems dropped by enemies, with the power being dropped when the player is hit by enemies.
- Fairies – a satellite that flies around cotton, with additional fairies being collected by defeating enemies that are holding them. A maximum of three fairies can be held and the player can use them to attack by holding the bomb button. If cotton is hit while carrying two or more fairies, a fairy will damage all of the enemies on screen before disappearing.
- Magic – the last ability that Cotton has access to is offensive and defensive Magic, a set of three spells that can be used as long as the player has magic power. At the start of the game, cotton will have 3 magic uses with more being collected from enemies or when using a credit to continues. While there are only three spells that can be used at a time, the player can select from 4 different magic combinations before starting the game.
The stages are significantly more vibrant compared to the original title, made up of a mix of horizontal and scrolling sections, each with their own unique themes. The formula is mostly unchanged from the original Cotton, with each stage having a mid-boss appear partway through and then a big boss battle at the end. The Tea Time bonus when a stage is cleared also returns, where the player must collect as many tea cups falling from the sky as possible.
The game may feel short at only 7 Stages, but this is one of the greatest strengths that this game has. Being an arcade style shooter, the focus is on beating the game in as few credits as possible and setting a high score. The action is fun and frantic with enemy patterns that can be learned over time, which can push the player to try harder and go for that one credit clear. Cotton 100% is a challenging cute em up shooter and its simplicity adds to its charm.
Finally, I want to mention the general changes made to the game. There are two modes in this release, first is a standard mode that adds save states, a rewind feature to reverse mistakes and even cheats. Second is the challenge mode which is as close to the original version as possible, with completion of the game unlocking the cheats for standard. Please note, high scores are not saved and with no leaderboards, in order to record and share results the screenshot feature is the only option available.
Overall, the quality of life improvements are a nice touch and make the game more accessible for newer players, however they do come at a cost. Unfortunately, there are features that appear to have been removed from the original game, including cheat codes, a visual demo to watch cutscenes and the sound test. This is the only downside with the release, as the quality of emulation for this port is fairly high and provides the next best thing to owning an actual cartridge.
Now with the gameplay covered I want to move onto the other aspects of the game, starting with the Controls.
Controls – the controls for this release attempt to emulate the Super Famicom, but only the face buttons seem to be emulated as the secret codes are unavailable. There is an option to fully remap the controls, allowing all controllers to be used including third party offerings like the Retro-Bit Sega Saturn pad. The inputs are super responsive and there is no noticeable lag during play, with a comfortable and enjoyable experience no matter how it is played.
Difficulty – there are four difficulty options that are available in game, separated into Easy, Normal, Hard and Mania with the frantic action on screen getting more chaotic. The enemy patterns and boss patterns can be learned which does ease the difficulty curve. There are limited continues but the save state and rewind feature make this challenge more accessible, giving all players a chance to clear the game no matter the skill level.
Presentation – since Cotton 100% is a 16-bit Super Famicom title, there is extensive use of pixel art, bright colors and parallax scrolling but the foreground can get in the way. The visuals translate well to the Nintendo Switch, with the sprites looking clean and crisp in either handheld or docked mode. There are some moments of slowdown but those are also present in the original game. The sound is fantastic and has been emulated well, with no problems when it comes to the music or sound effects.
There are some visual filters that have been implemented, letting players apply CRT filters and scan lines along with an aspect ratio option. Unfortunately, these options add very little to the experience as they just darken the screen, with the screen size options to change the aspect ratio not working at all. I hope that this is fixed in the future, as there is a lot of hard work that has been put into the extra features and it has been confirmed that a Language patch is in the works.
Final Thoughts – I was excited when I heard that Marchen Adventure Cotton 100% was coming to the west officially for the first time. When I got my hands on the game it turned out to be a little bit of a mixed bag, as I was hoping to get a complete experience. However, the inability to access content like the visual and sound demo modes did put a downer on the enjoyment, making the whole package feel incomplete. The quality of life additions do make up for it a little.
I can recommend this game to fans of the Cotton series and Shmup/cute em up titles in general. Regardless of the missing features from the original, the gameplay is untouched and plays just as good as if it was on the original Super Famicom system. It’s a tough yet rewarding title that is more than deserving of finally getting an official release on western shores, making it a fantastic addition to any shooter fans collection.
In the end, I give Cotton 100% a final score of 4/5. This is a fantastic shooter that has been deserving of a western release for two decades, with fun yet frantic action and a unique charm that only the Cotton games possess. This is an excellent title that has found a good Home home on the Nintendo Switch. If you want to check this game out for yourself, links to both versions will be below along with a physical release.
Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)
Link to PlayStation 4 version (HERE)
Link to Official Website for Physical releases (HERE)
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