Cotton 100% Review – Machine Wash, COLD

    Title: Cotton 100%
    Developer: Ratalaika Games
    Release Date: October 29, 2021
    Reviewed On: Switch
    Publisher: ININ Games
    Genre: Shmup

How did we go from not having next to no Cotton games released in the west to suddenly having almost all of them at once? It’s practically similar to having a mouthful of cotton balls after a visit to the dentist. It wasn’t long ago when we saw the release of Cotton Reboot!, but now we’ve received a few more entries in this series; among them is Cotton 100%, which was initially released for the Japanese SNES back in 1994.

Cotton 100% is essentially the original Japanese game; nothing has been translated, and the menu presentation is as bare minimum as it gets, but it’s not entirely a straight-up ROM either. There are a few minor tweaks and modifications, as players get to choose between the unaltered SNES experience and a slightly modernized version. The main feature here is the ability to rewind gameplay, but there is not much else happening beyond that.

This re-release exists simply, so you don’t have to jump through hoops to play a Japanese SNES cartridge. That being said, it’s not the kind of game you want on your retro gaming bucket list. Yes, Cotton as a series became quite the darling among importers back in the ’90s, but now that we have every possible game right in front of us, it’s safe to place this one in the overrated camp.

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Cotton 100% isn’t a terrible game, it’s a clean and charming cute ’em up as players make use of rapid-fire, bombs, and magic attacks to navigate colorful levels as they take on enemies at what feels like a pretty steady pace. It is the antithesis of modern bullet hell, and so it still succeeds in providing a lighter alternative to all the craziness the genre is known for.

What stands out about Cotton 100% and the series, in general, is the boss battles. Even if the core shooting action feels pretty ordinary, the boss battles at least are charming and inventive in their presentation and design. They almost feel like the style of bosses you would face in a platformer, but instead, they provide an exciting gameplay challenge within a shmup design.

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As a game released relatively late in the SNES release cycle, Cotton 100% has a graphical and visual style that works, granted some of the colors are a little on the soft side, which can make it tricky to detect enemy attacks. Still, the slower pacing makes it easier to manage the flow of action and keep up with all of the enemy patterns. While the sprite graphics are dated, and not much is done for this release to tidy things up, at least the boss animations still look cool, and some of them can be quite expressive.

Cotton 100% is a decent curiosity at best. Still, between releases like Cotton Reboot! and the Saturn Tribute port of Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams, there really isn’t much of a compelling reason to pick up this Japanese SNES oddity unless you happen to be one of ten diehard fans on the planet. 2021 may be the year of Cotton, but it’s a bit like the reunion concert of a rock band no one listens to anymore, the kind that plays at your local community center and can’t draw a crowd with free beers.

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Cotton 100% undoubtedly has some interesting charms and cool boss battles, but there isn’t much to it as a classic shooter. This 2021 release does the absolute bare minimum to preserve this oddity from the ’90s. If you need to try one game from the franchise, you might as well pick up the Saturn Tribute release of Cotton 2. As for this curious SNES shooter, it’s not among the games you need to play before you die.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!