Hocus Pocus, Focus!
Despite the popular name for the subgenre, “bullet hell” games can be a truly heavenly experience. There’s such a primal, visceral joy to weaving between hundreds of projectiles while battling hordes of enemies and screen-filling bosses. From Galaga to Gradius and even up to this year’s Returnal there has always been a dedicated base of players for these forays into projectile pandemonium. However, one icon of the genre has remained relatively unknown in the West, so thank goodness for Cotton Reboot.
An overhaul of Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams, Cotton Reboot is a love letter to the original, both polishing and expanding upon the original significantly. The nutty narrative follows young witch Cotton on her quest to eat as much delicious candy as possible regardless of how many monsters must die in the process. She may be the most relatable protagonist in all of fiction in this regard. One of the few flaws in this package are the cutscenes. For fans of anime comedy, may delight but to the uninitiated, they’re tedium incarnate. The less said of bikini-clad sidekick Silk the better, not as smooth as her name would suggest.
Broom to Improve?
Cotton swoops through delightful colourful levels featuring intricate and imaginative designs and details thoroughly transporting you to this witching world. However, don’t let the name fool you: Cotton is hard as hell. Tightly manoeuvring between the colourful enemies and gunfire is the bread and butter of the genre and this is no exception. This edition combines the original X68000 game and a newer faster version, something for retro purists and newcomers alike.
Cotton handles like a charm, weaving around enemies and gorgeous Technicolour explosions with ease. The clearly defined visuals mean that even in the most hectic and colourful settings you never lose track of where you are. Screen filling explosions are always a delight and the numerous graphical and movement settings provide the flexibility to enjoy them however you prefer. The soundtrack is perfectly catchy, for a game built around replayability, this is a crucial victory.
The option to jump between the redux graphics and the original retro stylings really demonstrate the love put into this package. A fat stack of improvements and bonuses are the cherry on top of an already sweet deal. Cotton Reboot is fun for a single playthrough. However with high-score incentives to replay ad infinitum, Cotton may be the bud you’ve been searching for.