Even if you're in the middle of a scorching summer, there are games that remind you of other seasons, and with a story that follows Cotton as a broomstick riding witch, PS4 Cotton Reboot! conjures up images of moonlit autumn nights. It's Cotton's sweet tooth, and love of candy wrapped WILLOW, which persuades her over seven stages to awaken the morning light from demons who've created eternal darkness — with a setting in this horizontal shmup that'll be magic during Halloween.
This retro remake's entrancing Arrange Mode's 2D visual style is like a cross between the anime charm of Kiki's Delivery Service with the monster design in Hotel Transylvania, so its kooky spookiness does for cute-'em-ups what Kid Dracula did for cutesy platformers.
An elaborate scoring system means this single player horizontal shmup has risk-and-reward gameplay as you either collect crystals to gain EXP and magic levels, or shoot through them for more powerful diffused shots — although picking up a black crystal is worth a whopping 10,000 points. There's subtlety in defending with the fairy Silk's support satellites, which feels like carefully positioning to block attacks with the Multiple power-ups in Gradius.
Yet, even without save states, progression in Cotton Reboot! is accessible to shmup newcomers due to approachable difficulty options, and once you've beaten the 35-minute main game, there's replay value in unlocking new characters, and practicing techniques in two or five minute Time Attack modes to strive for online rankings.
Pleasingly, developer Rocket Engine also included the 1993 X68000 Japanese computer port of the original 1991 Cotton coin-op for retro and pixel art fans who want to return to the classic game by Success. The spellbinding arranged soundtrack is also a truly Fantastic Night Dreams collection of talented all-star Japanese composers, and you can unlock listening to the altered tunes and a demo of the story in the Visual & Sound menu option. Even if Fantasy Zone was released earlier than Cotton, and if Parodius is arguably better known in the cute-'em-up subgenre, Cotton Reboot! is a Success-ful retro remake to bewitch you into being sweet on the Cotton series.