Originally released in 1998 for the Super Famicom, this Japan exclusive was the second title released in the Cotton series. Like games in this niche series, the gameplay is pick-up-and-playable but the lacking quality of life features is disappointing for a 2021 release.
Taking a note from Gradius, players can select from a few different loadouts before starting. This increases replay value and can make subsequent playthroughs feel rather different despite flying through the same 2D side scrolling stages. In addition to the standard shot, players have access to magic and a bomb feature, along with adding fairies to the arsenal. Although it becomes clear in time through trial and error, the options menu never explains these mechanics to the player so it can become confusing. Each stage follows a formula too, with a mini boss appearing shortly after starting each stage and an end boss that will usually kick your ass with a cheap tactic or two. Thankfully, the newly implemented rewind feature will be your new best friend when trying to complete this hour long narrative.
Other than the welcomed rewind feature, there are no notable newly included features. There is a cheats menu that only unlocks if you manage to the beat the game in its original format (no extra lives, no rewind). Which becomes a moot point because if you can beat this challenging game without help, you do not need cheats. There are a couple screen filters to explore but they are not anything particularly special. It is a shame that more wasn’t included and makes the price of admission seem a lot higher than it should be. The worst part though is the lack of translation. You don’t need to know Japanese to play this game, as the play field is in English, but all the cutscenes are still in Japanese. Since each scene is several panels long, it is a shame not being able to understand the banter between the young witch and her fairy friend (although I am going to assume the plot revolves candy as that is sort of Cotton’s thing).
It is really cool that this Japan-only game is now made available in America but the lack of options and high difficulty leave this shooter purely for hardcore fans. Although I like the work of Ratalaika, ININ, and Success, their work pales in comparison to an M2 release. I personally think Cotton deserves better but having any Cotton as opposed to no Cotton is better than nothing.