Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton were recently released on Nintendo Switch, porting Cotton 100% from the Super Famicom and Panorama Cotton from Drive/Genesis consoles. They come with a host of features that make the games more comfortable for today’s audience whilst maintaining their nostalgic charm.
Both games are a shoot’em up experience, but with a differing perspective. Cotton 100% is a traditional side-scrolling shooter, whilst Panorama Cotton simulates forward scrolling, with enemies and obstacles hurtling towards you, a perspective similar to something like Outrun.
The games generally feel very similar to the original releases, and as long as you have played any classic shoot’em up games, are bound to feel very nostalgic. There was a comforting charm to classic shoot’em ups, something that’s evident here and works in the games’ favour. The save state functionality which lets you save the game at any point, further highlights the benefit of this simplicity, allowing you to pick up and play the game conveniently on the Nintendo Switch.
What makes the Cotton experience feel unique, however, is its cute visual pallet mixed with a more forgiving pace and difficulty, something that made it stand out amongst the more gritty shmups of the time. The characters are drawn in a cartoonish manner, as are the enemies, who don’t look or behave overly aggressive.
For Cotton 100%, by swapping out traditional sky-based battles for more close-to-the-ground gameplay, it manages to leverage different enemy types, with some that fly at you and others that stay on the ground throwing projectiles. This is further embraced by the gameplay systems, giving you an assortment of attacks to deal with this verticality.
You can do a ground-based attack, regular projectile attack and a special attack, letting you juggle between the obstacles. It is easy enough to play but does take some time to master. What helps make the game a bit more replayable is the ability to choose an attack loadout from a choice of four, letting you experiment and fight with a toolset that fits within your playstyle.
Panorama Cotton on the other hand is fast-paced and focuses more on twitch skills as you try and fight/dodge items coming towards you. What stands out from it is the variety of environments you will go through, each with its own enemy types and environmental visuals.
Sadly, it does get a bit disorienting at times as the forced perspective has limitations, making it hard to judge certain pixels and your location relative to them. This becomes more of a problem when you have to squeeze through small gaps in moving blockades as it’s hard to judge the 3D space.
What especially didn’t help was the amount of jitter that happened every time an abundance of complex sprites would gather on the screen. I am not sure if that was from the animation framerate mismatch between elements, or just the underlying emulator/engine struggling to render them properly on the Nintendo Switch.
One aspect that does sour the experience a bit is how these games have been released. Currently, they’re both sold separately for £12.99 each, meaning that to get both games you will have to end up paying £25.98 and the games do not justify the cost. The price would have been easier to swallow if they were both bundled as a pack for £12.99 or the games were remastered quite a bit.
Overall, the games are a great blast from the past and are fun to play. They especially stand out due to their inviting difficulty when compared with the more breakneck shmups of its time, as well as their charming visuals.
Sadly, at their current price point, it’s a bit hard to fully recommend them unless you are a huge fan or a retro-enthusiast, as there are official Megadrive/emulator packages out there that offer a lot more content for the same price. Furthermore, localisation for the cutscene has yet to come in a patch, so it might be worthwhile waiting altogether.