I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a shm’up player, and I’ll also be the first to admit that I’m awful at them. That being said, anything cute and colorful immediately grabs my interest as a player. While I could never get into the likes of Gradius and R-Type, the “cute ’em up” genre is what I’ve always veered towards whenever I’m in the mood to weave around streams of bullets and shoot things. Air Zonk, Twinbee and Coryoon are all solid examples of the genre that I can always have a good time with- even if I’m constantly crashing into things or getting shot down by chibi vegetables. It’s not exactly the most expansive genre, so the more we can get our hands on (especially stateside)- the better. Beep Studios has us covered in 2021 in the form of Cotton! Reboot.
Like many of the aforementioned Cute ‘Em Ups, Cotton is a franchise that has been mostly dormant for quite some time. The original arcade game, Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams was released in Japan in 1991 and was powered by the iconic Sega System 16 arcade board (the same tech that brought us the likes of Altered Beast and Outrun). As witch-in-training Nata de Cotton, you’re out to rid a surreal fantasy world of monsters with the aid of a fairy companion named Silk. The game was eventually ported to the PC Engine (known in the states as the short-lived Turbografx16) as well as the Sharp X68000 home computer in Japan.
Cotton! Reboot will be based on the X68000 port as opposed to the arcade game, and for good reason. As with many ports of Sega’s arcade lineup, changes were made in this version in order to make the experience more suitable for players at home. It’s something I’m all for as I feel most arcade games tend to lose some of their fun factor going from a stand-up cabinet to a direct port that allows for infinite quarter feeding. This is a smart move on the part of the developers and definitely shows that they’ve put a little more care into this port/remake than some have in recent years.
Alongside a direct port of the X68000 version, there will be a new “arranged” version as one would come to expect from a title like this. Outside of an overhaul to the game’s presentation, there will be a new playable character from the Trouble Witches series as well as a much-needed option for rapid fire. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some other gameplay alterations pop up to make the game more accessible to new players in 2020, but it remains to be seen.
Cotton! Reboot is currently slated for a February 2021 release for both the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch in Japan, and is expected to come stateside shortly thereafter. As you might have guessed, there is a special limited edition in the works and will be available for pre-order via ININ Games in the coming month. Pricing for the digital and physical release is up in the air as of now, but I would suspect that it’ll be anywhere from $15 to $25 digitally and (of course) far more for the limited edition physical run.
It’s great to see even more lesser known properties being brought to modern platforms. Hopefully this will inspire a cute ’em up resurgence of sorts- I’ve been wanting a new Air Zonk ever since the Wii Shop Channel exposed me to the Turbografx16 over a decade ago. We definitely need more games like that and Cotton in a genre that’s become flooded with generic bullet hells. Do you have any niche shooters you’d like to see receive the same treatment? Let us know in the comments!