Top Critic Average
Cotton Reboot is one of my favorite horizontal shoot ‘em ups of all time, alongside Keio Flying Squadron, Harmful Park, Cho Aniki, and Zombie Nation. What those all have in common is that they’re weird and unique in their presentation. They all have solid gameplay but don’t re-invent the wheel with anything other than style. Casual shooter fans can’t go wrong with Cotton Reboot!. It has an interesting presentation, tight controls, and scale-able difficulty. It won’t challenge hardcore bullet hell enthusiasts, but they probably want their shmups to be vertical anyways.
Cotton Reboot is an updated, remastered version of the classic and iconic side-scrolling “cute ’em up” Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams which was first released in April 1991 as the first entry in the series. The game tells the story of a hot-headed, immature young witch named Nata de Cotton who always overreacts and rides on a broomstick, with her fairy friend, Silk. Cotton is crazy about candies called “Willows” and she won’t let anything or anyone get in her way to get them.
Cotton Reboot! is a very pretty and highly enjoyable remake of one of the shmup genre’s most pioneering cute ’em ups — as endearing today as it has ever been while featuring surprisingly deep mechanics for score attack fanatics. It’s a shame a threadbare package, a subjectively high price, and distracting visual issues frequently threaten to spoil the party. For dedicated shmup heads, however, Cotton Reboot is an enjoyable blast from the past that comfortably paves the way for the sweet series’ incoming revival.
Cotton Reboot! isn't just a new way to play a stellar old-school shoot 'em up; it's also essentially a modern sequel to this dormant shooter series thanks to the gorgeous new Arrange mode. Classic Cotton is cute and easy to pick up, but Arrange is a fast and wild experience that is definitely hard to master. There's some on-screen messiness in Arrange mode and the lack of gallery-style bonuses is a bummer, but this is still a must-play shoot 'em up for any fans of the genre.
Bewitching in both incarnations, Cotton's Reboot! is a fanfare of zany ghouls and ghosts, inventive and inimitable bosses, and a superbly catchy soundtrack in both original and remixed forms. Never being released in the west and prohibitively expensive today, it's something of a blessing for retro gamers to be able to dip their toes in Cotton's enduringly impressive X68000 outing. Of all the "cute 'em ups" out there, it remains one of the best, while the new Arrange mode – with its impressive overhauls and remixed ideas – has cast a rare spell of resurrection.
Cotton Reboot! is a fantastic re-imagining of a classic side-scrolling shooter.
Cotton Reboot provides an incredible experience for shmup fans with its expertly-crafted arrange mode that modernizes the classic to new heights. In fact, it does such a good job with this that it could be used as a template for any shoot 'em up remake.
My highest praise goes to the overall aesthetic. Fantastic Night Dreams is at once vibrant and somewhat gothic in its presentation, with the colorful sprites and characters flying freely through starlit nights and haunted caverns. These already looked nice in the original Cotton, helping it stand out even among other cute ‘em ups, but are even more pronounced in the arranged version. Paired with the excellent soundtrack for stages (which has also gotten completely rearranged, with the originals still available) the whole of a playthrough is a trick-or-treat for the eyes and ears.
The nature of a game like Cotton Reboot! is one where its audience will know immediately if they want to pick it up, because as far as being a classic shooter game, it’s exactly what is to be expected. For those less knowledgeable, however, this game is for players who want to spend quite some time on what amounts to a very short game so that they can learn its ins and outs. It is also far more important than it probably should be to not be bothered by more than a little fanservice.
A fine remake, with new mechanics, flashier gameplay, reimagined visuals, and reworked sound. As a bonus, it includes a score attack mode, a port of the 1993 X68000 version of Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams, and online leaderboards.