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COTTON Fantasy Switch Review – Always About the Willows

COTTON Fantasy Switch Review – Always About the Willows

cotton fantasy

Well, it appears that I am Nintendo Link’s representative for Cotton, as I have reviewed all of the Switch Cotton games available until now. That means it is only right for me to review COTTON Fantasy, the first new COTTON game in over 20 years, as the classic remakes are still fresh in my mind.

So is COTTON Fantasy a true return to form and a reminder of the game’s great shoot ’em up roots? Or does this one fail to challenge and entertain like previous titles? Let’s find out!

cotton fantasy

COTTON Fantasy starts off strong, as you are immediately asked to choose from six different witches: Cotton, Luffee, Fine, Ria, Kawase, and Appli. All six are formidable and provide unique shooting gameplay to offer slightly different experiences each time you want to blast through the campaign.

The story this time around is… well… the same as usual. Willows are disappearing, and this means terrible things for Fairyland. Fortunately, legend speaks of the one draped in a blue robe (Cotton) that will find the binding Willow that will ultimately make it rain Willows and save the day! If you are familiar with Cotton games, Willows are always the centerpiece, and Cotton is not the most-liked or reasonable character, especially since she has an obsessive desire to eat all the Willows. The little fairy, Silk, sets off to find Cotton once again to get the story rolling and tricks her into helping save Fairyland by promising an abundance of Willows.

As is the case with all of Cotton’s stories, COTTON Fantasy kicks things off in the usual COTTON manner, and it is a riot. Each of the characters are entertaining in their own way, with Cotton always being the MVP. I love that this one just casually continues the disgruntled relationships between Cotton and the various leaders of Fairyland while also moving the story in the direction it needs to go in order for the action to ensue. The antagonist is wonderful, and the ending to the main run is just awesome.

cotton fantasy

Gameplay is also the usual Cotton business, and it is as smooth as butter most of the time. Shoot ’em ups are meant to be a great challenge that test your reflexes as you bob and weave through the seemingly endless amount of enemies and bullets heading your way. In COTTON Fantasy, we get all of that pleasure as well as some new and interesting directions thanks to modern day graphics and designs.

Since this is a shoot ’em up, stages in COTTON Fantasy are rather short, but they are tight and excellent throughout. Outside of the final stage in Story Mode, most stages consist of blasting through hundreds of little enemies en route to encountering the boss, with the occasional Bonus Stage that changes to a 3D rail shooter of sorts, similar to Panorama Cotton. It is a solid set up that keeps things entertaining while also not taking a whole lot of your time, and since it is on the Switch, taking this one on the go and tackling some stages at your own leisure is awesome, although you need to be connected to the internet to upload your scores to the leaderboard.

With shoot ’em ups, playing stages multiple times and learning the rhythms is essential for getting those high scores. Thankfully, COTTON Fantasy has a delicious training mode where you can set things to your liking, including which character you want to play as and on what stage. You can even customize certain things like lives, power-ups, and more. This is awesome, but I am not a fan of vertical sections in stages, as there is little-to-no prep on the first time around to get used to those patterns. You basically just have to guess where an enemy will be as you decide your action, and on your first go, this results in death moreso than you would like. But again, thankfully there is a training mode to help with such blunders on future playthroughs.

cotton fantasy

Another area of the gameplay that absolutely deserves mention are the bosses. Each stage provides a unique boss experience that is both grand and fair, and the final boss has multiple stages that make for a serious conclusion that is both exciting and rewarding, as you do unlock a lot of goodies your first time around. Each stage’s boss adds so much to the value of the game, and there are certain ones that I enjoyed so much that I repeated their stages dozens of times in training mode just to completely understand their patterns and watch them once again in all of their glory.

Speaking of glory, the animation style throughout the entire COTTON Fantasy experience is glorious! Cotton has always been an adorable and charming character, and this time around, we have a whole army of witches to choose from and adore. Not only that, but the still image animation used during the story segments is fantastic and Cotton’s facial expressions were cracking me up from beginning to end. Her love for Willows knows no bounds!

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The soundtrack is exactly what you would expect from a Cotton game in all of the right ways, but the point of note for COTTON Fantasy is just how brilliant the Japanese voice acting is. Not only are the storied segments fully voiced, but each of the actors are incredible. The only negative is that Japanese is the only voice option, as the language choices only apply to the written language, so for those who do not understand Japanese, this may not be the best experience. However, as someone who is fluent in Japanese, it is fantastic and hilariously executed.

cotton fantasy

One area that might be the most problematic for players to swallow is the price, as it is a bit on the steeper side. However, there is a lot of game here, and although you can technically beat the main story in short time, COTTON Fantasy‘s main value, like most shoot ’em ups, is in its replay value. And it doesn’t stop there, as COTTON Fantasy also boasts a decent amount of valuable unlockables, including new playable characters and 6 more stages.

So even though COTTON Fantasy is a bit expensive, this is my favorite Cotton experience yet! I am more in love with Cotton than ever before, and the new cast of characters and the new villain are all so wonderfully brought in. Playthroughs are a joy, and unlocking more content is exciting every time.

If you are looking for a solid shoot ’em up that will challenge you, COTTON Fantasy is a must! The leaderboards are going to keep things interesting, especially for score attackers, but I guess if you are a casual player, this may not be so appealing. In that case, I still think the game is worth your time, but maybe it will be an easier pill to swallow when it is on sale. Either way, this is one of the best new shoot ’em ups on the market, and it is definitely one to keep your eye on.

COTTON Fantasy Review provided by Nintendo Link
Publisher: ININ Games
Developer: SUCCESS, Studio Saizensen
Release Date: May 20th, 2022
Price: $39.99, £34.99, €39,99
Game Size: 2.3 GB

cotton fantasy

Fantastically hilarious story

Excellent Japanese voice acting

Great shoot 'em up gameplay, especially the bosses

Wonderful art style and adorable animations

Lots of solid unlockables


Vertical sections are not fun

Price may be intimidating for some

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