Cotton Fantasy is a shoot-em-up that’s as intense as it is cute, but never gets too overwhelming.
Similar to witchcraft, the shoot ’em up genre has taken many shapes over generations. Some are playful and jolly flights while others overwhelm players with visions of a hellish amount of projectiles flying across the play field. From the days of classic arcades to modern home consoles the foundation has remained the same, keep shooting and don’t get shot!
Cotton Fantasy is a side-scrolling shooter that takes places in a world full of magic and colorful characters. Something has gone wrong in the kingdom of fairyland as the beloved pastel colored candy treats called willows are disappearing. Legends foretold when the willows are replaced with monsters, a blue robed witch will appear to return what was lost. Despite her reputation with the queen and kingdom, it’s in the witch Cotton’s best interest to fulfill the prophecy to bring her beloved treats back to fairyland.
In true shoot ’em up fashion, the main course of action is to take flight on Cotton’s broom through each of the intense stages. While the story takes place from Cotton’s perspective, players have a choice of magical girls from fairy land to play as each with there own unique shooting styles, special bombs and quirky mechanics. While holding back the oncoming monsters and dodging enemy projectiles, colored crystals and bonus items are dropped. The main characters’ firing modes change or grow in strength depending on what color crystals are gathered, and if they’re shot at, crystals will bounce on screen and change color. Witches like Cotton can also store and use up to three crystals to unleash unique and powerful charged shots that can clear incoming projectiles and stack lots of bonus points.
Graphics and visuals are captivating and colorful. There’s a bright blend of chaotic 3D characters and backgrounds during the side scrolling action, as well as the pastel appeal of 2D anime cutscenes. Lively Japanese voice overs, a magical girl electronic soundtrack and equally magical sound effects bring this cartoon tale to life.
The cartoon chaos on screen can be a lot to take in while maneuvering, but Cotton Fantasy’s mechanics allow for any player to complete the full story and stages. Most characters have a set number of lives in any of the three difficulty modes. Each character’s unique controls are easy to learn but difficult to master. Timing your flight movements to dodge bullets comes naturally with enough practice and characters that utilize charged shots or bomb skills will need to use them to wipe out incoming projectiles when things get too intense.
Just like adding coins in an arcade, players can continue after losing all their lives from the same point. The cost for continuing is your total points score will be reset. This modernized quality of life mechanic makes the full story accessible to any player, removing most of the pressure to survive. In contrast however, the more relaxed play makes skillful dodging maneuvers feel frivolous if there’s always an extra life to fall back on.
The boss fights at the end of each level are fierce, however, and there is a training mode for players who enjoy practicing on any of the 14 stages individually. This training mode also has unique settings for difficulty, lives and bombs. The reward for skillful players with high scores is a place on the online leaderboards, which plays host to all your personal scores with each character, as well as the astronomical scores of the top players online who have mastered the art of avoiding being hit.
Despite its juvenile themes and loose difficulty, Cotton and her friends have a lot to offer. One highlight is playing and unlocking characters while exploring the variety of capabilities. Storytelling is light but the action is addictive and the complete visual package is a satisfying feast for the eyes. While a multiplayer mode and more satisfying sense of progress would be fitting, there is enough to keep fans coming back for more.
Cotton Fantasy’s magic charm is in its uplifting spirit. A taste of charming fan service mixed with Japanese cartoon style and classic arcade shooting action with something to offer for both casual and hardcore fans accustomed to subtitles in their fictional fantasy.
Addictive and satisfying shoot ‘em up action
Lots of variety in characters and shooting abilities
colorful 3d levels and 2d storytelling
Online leaderboard to post high scores
Juvenile story themes
Not fully localized; tailored for fans of japanese imports
No multiplayer mode
Loose difficulty makes progress less rewarding
4 out of 5
Review code provided by PR. Cotton Fantasy is out now!