Review: ‘Cotton 100%’ & ‘Panorama Cotton’
In my recent review of Gynoug I said despite playing many videogames over the past 40 years, I haven’t played everything that has ever been released. So, I look forward to playing something retro that I’ve never played before. So, like buses, along come Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton for me to check out.
Before I played Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton, I confess that I had no idea of the existence of this franchise. According to my good friend Wikipedia, the series dates back to 1991 and there have been nine games released so far. My lack of knowledge is mainly due to the games only being available in Japan, and this is the first time Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton have been released internationally.
You may be wondering why the games are called Cotton and rightly so. Cotton is a witch who rides a broom and shares adventures with her scantily clad fairy friend called Silk. Cotton, silk gedit!? Never mind!
Anyway, let’s start with Cotton 100% which was originally released in 1994 for the Super Famicom, or Super Nintendo if you are from these shores. This is a side scrolling shooter which reminds me a lot of Apidya. They share a similar style and colour palette, but while Apidya was set in a garden having you fight against moles and other insects, Cotton 100% sees you flying on your broom fighting against wizards, fairies, jack o lanterns and an assortment of other cute creatures.
You choose between three different weapons before the game starts. These range from lightening, fire attacks, and a bubble shield. Upgrades can be found throughout the level which include more fairies that fight by your side. As well as shooting horizontally, you can also drop bombs, but to be honest, I didn’t find these particularly effective.
There are seven different levels in total, and they do provide a stern challenge, although there is a handy rewind function which allows you to take the action back by a few seconds if you die.
There is a story which plays out through cut scenes in between levels, but because the text is all in Japanese, quite frankly I haven’t the foggiest what is going on!
At the end of each level, it’s teatime where symbols fall from the sky, and you must collect as many as possible. Why? Who knows quite frankly, but I’m sure it makes perfect sense.
Overall, Cotton 100% is a fun game and if I had to use one word to describe it, I would use the word cute. Everything about it is cute. The graphics, music and setting are 100% cute! Cotton 100% is a little bit weird and wonderful and I kinda dig it.
Panorama Cotton was also released in 1994, but this time was exclusive to the Sega Megadrive. The gameplay is radically different from Cotton 100% and sees you flying into the screen with enemies coming at you. Imagine Sega’s Space Harrier or Afterburner and you will be close to the gameplay of Panorama Cotton.
Again, you have standard attacks and magic which can be used against the bad guys. This time around you can also control how quickly you travel and there are three settings of slow, medium and fast. There are also five levels available to test your skills. The rewind button also makes a return in case you keep dying. Again, as was the case with Cotton 100%, there are cut scenes in between the levels, but the Japanese text makes it impossible to tell what is going on. That is unless you can read Japanese of course!
As much as I appreciate the makers trying different genres with this franchise, I didn’t really get on very well with Panorama Cotton. First of all, Cotton herself is too large and takes up a fair portion of the screen. This is a problem as it makes it difficult to see what is coming towards you and you end up taking damage. Secondly, the best way I can describe this is that playing the game hurt my eyes. Mixing the garish colours with an explosion of stuff being thrown at you felt quite overwhelming at times. I mentioned two of Sega’s classic games as the inspiration for Panorama Cotton, but there was something about those games that made them special. It was a mixture of the graphics, gameplay and music, which despite its efforts, Panorama Cotton doesn’t come close to matching.
Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton are curious games which are fairly niche, and I would imagine there are many gamers (like me) who have never played them. In that respect, I think it’s great that they are being given an international release and opened up to a wider audience. However, with both games being priced at £12.99 on PSN, I personally think this is too much for what you get. If they were at the £4.99 mark, I would encourage you to check them out, but as it stands, I can’t recommend them at full price. However, if you are into your curious Japanese titles then have at it.
Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton are available now for PlayStation and Nintendo Switch.
Review by Chris.