Thanks to ININ GAMES to for the review code
Title: Marchen Adventure Cotton 100%
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 10/29/2021
In this Super Famicom import, you take control of the witch Cotton, who sets out to find out who is impersonating her, and also ensure the safety of her favorite treat! There are story scenes in-between stages, but they’re fully untranslated here.
Per the usual Ratalakia Games porting norms, you have a solid suite of customizable options to mess with, including the typical CRT and display options… Yet for some reason, the display options here seem to be busted, as it’s stuck at a 4:3 ratio no matter what screen option you choose. The CRT stuff works fine though, and I was actually impressed by just how well-detailed the effect is, while tinkering around with it. Compared to most effects that just slap lines on the screen and call it a day, Ratalakia went out to do a very convincing shader, and in this game’s case it actually helps to offset a pretty irritating visual effect.
The game itself is pretty standard fare for a SFC game, offering plenty of colorful visuals and smooth scrolling, with minimal slowdown compared to the infamous early shooters in the 16-bit library. There are still some moments I noticed slowdown, mainly when it came to hectic enemy waves or certain minibosses, but otherwise the experience was very smooth and the pixels really popped out for the better.
However, it needs to be stated that this port retains all the flashy effects of the original game, entirely. This is really bothersome when it comes to using the super helpful Thunder Magic, since it causes the screen to rapidly flash like mad for the entire duration, absolutely serving as a photosensitive risk that should have had a toggle to disable. Luckily, the aforementioned CRT filter does a good amount to mitigate this, but this sort of flashy effect should at least have a toggle in the year 2021, especially with brighter screens like the Switch OLED out that can make the issue worse.
Thankfully, the music is all pretty great, even if the instrumentation here is very safe considering the system. From the catchy boss theme, to the tea time bonus theme that contains a mild throwback to the original Arcade Cotton theme, the soundtrack here is solid. Unfortunately, the arranged OST from the PSOne port (the one that introduced me to this game a few years back) is entirely absent, though I didn’t end up missing it much with the much higher sound quality of the SFC original.
Cotton 100% plays a lot like the original Cotton game, being a horizontal shooter, but it manages to feel just distinct enough to come off as a pseudo sequel or at least a remix, due to completely original stages and music. Starting out, you can choose from four sets of magic powerups, not unlike the loadouts from Gradius III, and these determine what magic you can pull off with the A button. From a super powerful (if visually dangerous) Thunder Beam, a quick and strong Fire Dragon, a protective barrier, falling stars, and more, these limited-use items can come in handy in a real pinch, so if you end up finding one of the few enemy types that drop magic, go for them immediately, since you only can otherwise restock on magic when you use one of your limited continues.
Otherwise, going through stages is your standard shooter fare. Move around with the D-Pad, avoid enemies and projectiles, hold down the Y button to shoot, and B button to drop bombs or charge up Silk for a long range enemy attack, and X to toggle between your three magic types. The fact it controls and plays nearly identically to the original game (including gaining EXP for stronger attacks, changing colors of the crystals by shooting them, and even a secret bonus for avoiding all falling items at the end of each stage) is enough to make people mistake this for a SFC port of the arcade, but it really isn’t, since all seven stages here are unique and have their own minibosses and bosses to deal with, and they’re pretty damn fun to play through!
Shooting down enemies, collecting powerups and EXP, and dealing with the crazier and crazier bosses as the games goes along, just leads to a fun shooting experience all around, and one with a flexible amount of difficulty levels: even with the limited 3 continues, I had little trouble beating this on the Challenge Mode option, (which tasks you with beating the game like on a real console, by disabling save states and rewind) which in turns unlocks cheat options for the Modern option.
Before you think this is like the Gleylancer bonuses, don’t get too excited, since the modern mode just allows for rewinding, cheating, and save states, and nothing else. Granted, Cotton 100% isn’t a complex game or one that could even really benefit from control QOL and such, but it’s pretty upsetting that we didn’t at the very least get an overlaid translation like the Masaya classic, though that’s apparently coming later in a patch, hopefully along with a photosensitivity toggle. Still, it’s shockingly barebones, and at the end of the day you just get a super well emulated port (no noticeable input lag of any kind) with not much else going for it, leading to a fun romp that’s at least worth playing through once.
In conclusion, Cotton 100% is a very good port of a pretty niche game, but it does have some stuff to iron out. The original game is here fully intact and still just as fun as ever, but the buggy visual options, the weird lack of any toggle for the epileptic, and the current lack of a translation make this port feel a bit rushed.
The game is still a worthwhile play, and controls like a dream with a SNES controller, but considering how this game’s a whopping $15 and requires that you wait to even understand what’s going on, (unless you can read some Japanese like I can) I honestly find it tough to recommend this port of Cotton 100% at this point in time. It is still far, far cheaper than a bare cart, and it still has some QOL features, but after the bargain of the year that was Gleylancer, it’s rather disappointing that a game that you can still technically get for $4 on the Japanese PSN is so much more here on Switch, with not much extra to show for it. Still, I at least feel confident enough in the quality of the game itself to give this a recommendation, if only for folks able to tolerate the price, picking up the physical, or who play it after the upcoming patch.
I give Cotton 100% a 7 out of 10