Review: Cotton Fantasy – A Joyful, Mischievous, And Incredibly Varied Shmup

Any Witch Way.

When it comes to the cute-’em-up sub-genre, the characterful witch Cotton and the series to which she lends her name are effectively royalty. There are other games that have been important in defining a niche where shmups’ staple fighter craft, tanks and laser turrets are replaced with kittens, candy canes and cuddly toys, of course. Konami’s Gradius spin-off series Parodius, and SEGA’s beloved Fantasy Zone titles, for example, have long delighted players and troubled collectors’ savings. But the Cotton games’ blend of charismatic presentation and hyperactive action has made them among the best loved shmups there are, cute or otherwise.

And now, amidst a flurry of Cotton ports and remasters timed to just about coincide with the first game’s 30th anniversary, Cotton Rock ‘n’ Roll: Superlative Night Dreams has arrived on Switch, landing shortly after two slightly distinct arcade versions. Western console owners will soon be able to pick up a digital and limited physical release locally under the name Cotton Fantasy — but importing a copy proved tricky to resist when the series’ name alone promises a bounty of quality. Fortunately, Cotton Rock ‘n’ Roll almost entirely meets the expectation set by its heritage.

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