100% Cotton is a re-release of the classic horizontal screen shoot ’em up game Märchen Adventure Cotton 100% from the Super Famicom era of the ’90s. For those who don’t know, the entire Cotton series by developer Success is not translated and released internationally. Even in the re-release at the time of writing, the game has not been translated but is still in the original Japanese. This is a small minus in terms of how thoughtful the re-release is, but not necessarily the game’s minus point.
Simply described, 100% Cotton is almost a remake of Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams. Not only gameplay mechanics, enemy shaping, but also some bosses and screen design are not much different from the original above. Even the plot is similar while the transitions are built simpler and less elaborate. The player’s character is the witch Cotton with boundless passion for Willow candies. One day Cotton meets the fairy Silk again, hears about an evil Cotton being and sets out to investigate.
Compared to Fantastic Night Dreams, the 100% Cotton version has only a few levels and enemies with a completely new design, the rest mostly reuses old assets. Although the color looks brighter, it lacks depth, does not clearly separate the foreground and background, so it sometimes makes it difficult to control the movement of the character. However, the design of the game screen and the enemies are quite “light-handed”, there are rarely heavy bullets that make you struggle to dodge. Hitbox is also quite comfortable and does not make it difficult for players like I, AI.
Meanwhile, the game experience is somewhat similar, but with a reduction of simpler gameplay mechanics compared to Cotton Reboot. 100% Cotton feels like the lite version of the original Fantastic Night Dreams. Each level still has 2 bosses in the middle and at the end of the level, but 100% Cotton’s difficulty is much lower than the parts played on classic Sega systems. However, the magic easily turns the boss battles into lightning-fast like normal enemies, making me feel that the game design is a bit unbalanced.
The play of 100% Cotton is not much different from the names mentioned above. The only difference is that the gameplay mechanics are simplified, though still revolving around a rain of bullets, bombs and magic, combined with the support of Silk and two other fairies that you rescue from enemies in the game screen. Basically, the spaceship-like fairies seen in many classic shmup games of the 90s. However, only Silk will follow you to the end and the two blue fairies run away and have to be rescued again when has a chance every time the protagonist dies.
The crystal system in 100% Cotton also has an adjustment in the direction of simplification compared to the first game, even less compared to Cotton Reboot in terms of gameplay depth. Instead of many colors, the crystal system has only two colors of yellow and red, but it is very fragile when you accidentally or intentionally shoot them in a short time. Make use of crystals and kill enemies to fill the EXP bar, making the bullets of the protagonist and fairies much stronger. Similarly, collecting crystal shards dropped from enemies allows you to cast spells according to the preset.
It could be an attack or defense spell. The application of spells, although there is a bit of a tactical element, but most of it is done lightly just because of their great power. For example, fire and lightning dragons easily destroy several mini-bosses mid-stage in a single use. While it is not uncommon for the final boss to be unable to withstand more than 3 consecutive spells. Only the final boss is really difficult for players because of the lightning attacks, but this is the “poor face” villain if you played the first part.
At the end of each level is a “tea time” Tea Time giving players the opportunity to earn extra bonus points to climb the rankings. However, that’s just the in-game leaderboard. 100% Cotton does not have an online leaderboard for you to compare scores with players around the world. The game is experienced through emulator software, possessing familiar and basic features such as save state, rewind and scanline filter to simulate the feeling of experience on CRT televisions. There are no new game modes or features like Cotton Reboot.
The emulator is also quite good quality, perfectly reproducing the classic 100% Märchen Adventure Cotton experience. Even the moments when the game experience exceeded the processing capacity of the old Super Famicom still kept the same speed as what you remember in the old days. Besides the familiar plus features of the aforementioned emulator, 100% Cotton also has a Challenge mode with only 3 lives with 3 continues, no save state or rewind. Completing this challenging game mode rewards you with ‘Cheat Code’.
After all, 100% Cotton offers a classic, yet exciting shmup experience for those who enjoy nostalgia. The game possesses cute retro graphics with bosses with unique shapes, contributing to creating a very unique mark for the classic Cotton game series. The biggest minus point of the game is that it can’t be translated but still retains the Japanese original. However, this is still a name that you do not want to ignore if you love the Cotton series in general and this genre is often quite challenging.
100% Cotton is available now for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
The article uses games supported by the publisher.