Cotton 100%  & Panorama Cotton – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade game, shoot-em-up
Developer: Success
Publisher: ININ, Strictly Limited Games
Platform: Switch, PS4
Tested on: Switch

Cotton 100% & Panorama Cotton – Review

Site Score
Good: Lots of QoL additions
Bad: Neither game has stood the test of time very well
User Score
(2 votes)
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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)

With the Cotton franchise celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, ININ Games saw an opportunity to bring the adventures of the titular candy-obsessed witch to the Switch. Just a few months ago, we got Cotton Reboot and now Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton join the lineup. The titles were released simultaneously on the eShop and both provide their own specific twist on the cute-’em-up formula that cemented the franchise. Given the relative obscurity and rarity of these games, having them so readily available is a treat for retro enthusiasts. So how do Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton hold up three decades later?


While there certainly *are* story elements present here, it’s difficult to follow the narrative as neither game’s cutscenes received a translation. There is information that you can gather from the sprite art that displays during these scenes, but all text is presented in Japanese. This doesn’t matter all that much for Cotton 100%, as it’s a rethread of the simple story we got in Cotton Reboot, with the titular witch driven by her desire for sweets. It’s a different situation for Panorama Cotton, however, as everything makes very little sense without the text. We had to turn elsewhere to find context.

Panorama Cotton’s story sees Queen Velvet acting strangely. She is apparently under the influence of a strange willow that appeared in the castle’s garden. Her strange behavior worries fairies Silk and Knit, who decide that they should get rid of the willow. During Silk’s attempt to dispose of the willow, she’s interrupted by Cotton. Thinking it’s a piece of candy, Cotton attempts to eat it, but after she spits it out disgustedly, Silk seizes her chance to convince Cotton to join her cause. Together, the pair sets off on an adventure to restore Queen Velvet’s sanity and deal with the threat of an army of monsters in the North.


The Cotton franchise has always stood out thanks to the cute design of its main character, the scantily clad fairies, and the incredible enemy designs. These are all faithfully recreated here, although we do feel like the game is enticing players by featuring the fairies prominently in its marketing material. The sprite art has never looked better, thanks to the crispness of modern displays -although, as you’ll find in the gameplay section of Panorama Cotton, that crispness comes at a price. You can also apply a CRT filter, and even mess around with things like gamma and screen curvature in order to emulate an old TV as closely as possible. The games are presented in their original aspect ratio, of course, and we were a bit surprised to see black bars on our screen sides rather than a nice frame. This was especially noticeable with Cotton 100%‘s 4:3 aspect ratio.


As far as we could tell, the soundtracks for both titles are presented exactly as they were. The retro tunes hold up very well by today’s standards, with Panorama Cotton’s synth-like music especially standing out. There is no voice acting present, of course. Sound effects are also a product of their time and sound as crisp as ever. There isn’t a whole lot to Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton’s soundscape but given the limitations of the hardware these games were originally released on, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.


Typically, the Cotton franchise takes the classic 2D side-scrolling shmup gameplay we’ve come to know and love from franchises like Darius and R-Type but replaces the ubiquitous spaceships and alien monsters with cute witches and fairytale characters. Cotton 100% is perhaps the most ‘pure’ Cotton title out there and sees Nata de Cotton, the franchise’s mascot, take flight on her broom and cast spells to zap a variety of critters, earning candy along the way. The game we’re getting here is an accurate replica of the Super Famicom title from 1994. It’s a classic shmup that feels insanely difficult by modern standards. It’s not necessarily more difficult compared to other games from this era: It’s just that we’re not used to games being this hard anymore. The game relies on memorization of when and where enemies will pop up, and you’ll have your work cut out for you if you aim to complete Cotton 100%’s Challenge Mode. To add some variety, you’re able to choose different spell loadouts when you start the game, so you can experiment to see what works with your playstyle.

Meanwhile, Panorama Cotton saw its debut not on the Famicom but on the SEGA Mega Drive (Genesis). While the gameplay is the same in essence, Panorama Cotton shifts the perspective from a 2D side scroller game to a 3D(-ish) on-rails shooter. Unlike the timeless gameplay of Cotton 100%, however, Panorama Cotton hasn’t aged very gracefully. It was very innovative at the time, but the fast movement and flashing visuals feel nauseating on modern screens. We wouldn’t go as far as to call Panorama Cotton unplayable, but if you’re prone to experiencing motion sickness or headaches, this is probably a title you’re going to want to stay away from.

Both games have received the same set of QoL additions, including a rewind feature, save states, and even unlockable cheats. We didn’t quite understand the inclusion of cheats though, as you’ll need to clear the games in Challenge Mode in order to gain access to these. It kind of defeats the point if you’re good enough to clear the game without cheats, save states, or rewinds in the first place. We expect that the majority of players will never be able to use these cheats as a result. In the case of Cotton 100% this is due to the game’s sheer difficulty, and with Panorama Cotton simply because it’s headache-inducing to play for a prolonged period of time.

Ultimately, the high difficulty level of Cotton 100% and the non-standard gameplay of Panorama Cotton make neither game a particularly good introduction to the Cotton Franchise. Those seeking to simply experience what made the Cotton franchise so memorable in the first place are much better off with Cotton Reboot. That’s not to say these newer ports don’t have a reason to exist: this is the first time Western players can legitimately experience them without having to resort to importing the physical cartridge from Japan and paying through the nose for the chance to play the game.


It’s hard to find fault with the work ININ has done porting these games to the Switch. The abundance of QoL features and smooth emulation are fantastic. There are a few minor gripes, such as the absence of English text during story scenes and the lack of a nice frame to compensate for the aspect ratio. These are only minor gripes, however, and the ports run smooth as butter. Unfortunately, neither game has stood the test of time particularly well. Of the pair, Cotton 100% is by far the better game but that’s not saying much as Panorama Cotton‘s issues are the result of changes in hardware and how our brain processes the information we see on the screen. These are by no means must-have titles unless you’re a die-hard retro enthusiast or Cotton fan.

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Rating: 7.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Cotton 100% & Panorama Cotton - Review, 7.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

1 Comment

  1. […] turned 30 only a few days ago, and this year we have already tried and played Cotton Reboot!, Cotton 100% and Panorama Cotton. Now the developers have come up with something new and even better; a brand-new ‘modern’ […]

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