4.25 out of 5


  • Well-rounded upgrade
  • Original version available
  • Timed attacks
  • Leaderboards


  • Short
  • Needs more options
  • Overwhelming at first

Switch, PlayStation 4
ININ Games, Beep
Rocket Engine
Action, Arcade, Shoot-'em-up
File Size (Minimum)
2.7 GB
Release Date (NA)
Jul 20, 2021
Release Date (JP)
Feb 25, 2021

Cotton Reboot is a remastered version of the 1991 arcade game, Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams. After being released in the Japanese arcades, the title received a port to the TurboGrafx-16 in 1993 but was downgraded due to the console’s capabilities. Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams was then ported to the Sharp X68000 home computer, which improved the quality. Eventually, the game came to other home consoles through the years. The remastered version not only received upgrades for its visuals but also a remixed soundtrack and improved gameplay. Cotton Reboot is the best version of the classic shoot-‘em-up while also keeping its charming ‘90s anime style intact.

That’s So ‘90s

Cotton Reboot! - Comparison

A young witch named Nata de Cotton is short tempered but LOVES candies, especially the rare ones called Willows. Cotton meets with a fairy named Silk who is in need of help saving her world from demons. At first, Cotton shows no interest until Silk mentions her reward would be Willows. With no hesitation, Cotton dives into battle against the demons that drove Silk out of her world.

The game’s cutscenes and artstyle is something you would see in a classic ‘90s anime. When the game received a reboot, the illustrations received a visual upgrade, but they retained their original style. The original script also remained untouched. It’s great to see that the development team didn’t change the look to match today’s anime aesthetics. Strangely enough, for the credits scene, the original mode felt more animated that the remastered version. It’s a shame that that wasn’t carried over.

The game’s soundtrack was remixed with enhancements. It keeps most of the original score intact, but it was upgraded with stereo feedback to refresh it for players’ ears.

New vs Old Gameplay

Cotton Reboot! - Comparison

While the script and illustrations didn’t need an overhaul, the game certainly did need an upgrade to match today’s shoot-‘em-up standards in terms of visual improvements and additional power-ups.

Cotton Reboot lets players play the original X68000 version or the remastered one. Both have their benefits, but at the end of the day, the remastered version has the most positives going for it. While the X68000 pales in comparison to visuals, sound, and gameplay, it’s not as overwhelming when it comes to a screen filled with enemies and their attacks. For being an early ‘90s game, many devices simply couldn’t handle a massive amount of characters on screen at once compared to today’s technology. Understanding boss fights is easier with less movement on screen. However, your character’s attacks are also much more simplistic, and at times, it’s difficult to aim with your pellet-like attacks until you gain extra fairies to help your offense. Think of fellow shoot-‘em-up Galaga when it comes to picking up power-ups for additional firepower.

When jumping into Cotton Reboot, players may feel overwhelmed at first with its staggering amount of enemies and improved attack visuals. It’s like a brand new game, going from a traditional shoot-‘em-up to a bullet hell type of experience, similar to titles like Ikaruga and the recent re-release of Mushihimesama.

However, your character received new attack features in the new version. You can now take out enemies from behind with a destructive barrier behind your character, one of the best underrated upgrades in the game. Additionally, another new power-up lets you multiply your score in a timer to achieve those high top scores to post on the global leaderboards.

Players will want to play both versions of the game to understand and appreciate the upgrades given to the reboot. Not only that, it can give more perspective on how each mode works. The overall length of the game has not changed. Players can finish the game’s story in less than an hour.

The basic gameplay remains the same. Players can rescue fairies for additional firepower and pick up powerful spell bombs from enemy drops. While in battle, a large quantity of gems will float on the screen. Picking them up increases your score, but there’s more to them. Shooting at them will change the gem color, scoring larger amounts of points, and turning them black gives you the highest score. Additionally, the longer you play without getting hit, the stronger your attacks become. Otherwise, you are back to ground zero, and you will have to rebuild your level to have those strong attacks again.

There’s More But Not Enough

Cotton Reboot! - Screenshot

The game has a time attack mode for both the X68000 version and the reboot that lets you compete for high scores with other players online. In the time attack mode, like in both versions of the game, you can swap between Cotton and Silk (who becomes available after beating the game). That said, it feels the game could offer various color palette versions of Cotton and Silk, add additional characters, or even have the last boss as a playable character.

While both the remastered and the X68000 versions can be played in various modes, players can adjust the stock lives. Adjusting your stock will not let you put your score up on the leaderboard, though, even if you lower your stock. It would be great if The game added additional feature options or challenges, such as inverting the level’s colors, starting off with all fairies, or only defeating the boss with a spell bomb. Regardless, the game itself is satisfying enough for those who enjoy shoot-‘em-ups, especially classic arcade titles.

The Final Willow

Cotton Reboot keeps the basic fundamentals of the classic arcade shoot-‘em-up intact while boosting its visuals, soundtrack, and gameplay for a well-rounded upgrade. Although more features could be added to increase replayability, this remastered title is still the best version of the original. Hopefully, additional Cotton games will make the jump to today’s consoles.

A PlayStation 4 code provided for this review and gameplay footage.

Cotton Reboot! - Gameplay Footage (Captured on PS5)

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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