Developed By: Success (original), Ratalaika (port) Published By: ININ Games (Digital), Strictly Limited Games (Physical) Categories: Retro, Shoot'em up Release Date: 10.29.21
I am so glad that Success didn’t try and make a funny with the far too obvious 3D moniker for this third game in the Cotton series. Instead, they got a little creative, calling it Panorama instead. Same concept, but a little less insulting to my intelligence. Panorama Cotton is a 3D game however, at least as far as the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive can handle without any funky chips.
The story this time, has the queen from previous games acting strange, out of character. Silk, the fairy deduces that it’s from a burnt Willow. Monsters have been burning Willow, and this has been causing all sorts of trouble. When they go to get that burnt Willow out of the castle, Cotton , as she does attempts to garble it up, only to spit it out disgusted. These delicious Willows being burnt is something she just won’t stand for, so off she goes!
Cotton in…THREEEEEE DEEE
Panorama Cotton is a beautiful game. Considering the Genesis had no Mode-7 like the SNES, it’s always impressive to see what can be accomplished by the right hands. There have been other games that play like Panorama Cotton on the Genesis, using the same style of shooter, but most especially from Sega themselves aren’t as smooth.
One of the game’s mechanics can even make you move faster, if it wasn’t smooth enough for you. You’ll get more points at the end of the level the faster you finish it, but be careful, it can make stages much, much harder. At first, when I didn’t quite notice that speed was toggled, I put the speed to max without paying attention and I was getting absolutely destroyed by stage hazards, running into them and all. So then I decided to restart the game, pay attention to my speed, and then was doing much better.
Much like other games in the shoot’em up genre, you can do just fine for the most part on playing my guessing an intuition. However, very much so with the 3D nature, enemies can and will surprise you if you don’t know their patterns, from behind or in front of you. It can be hard to gauge distances at times, and I especially had issues in the after stage Tea Time segments.
It’s New, but Still Familar
So if you’ve played Cotton before, you’ll get the gist of the gameplay. Shooting and killing enemies grants experience, the more levels you go up, the stronger your attacks are. Gems in the stages can grant lots of experience (yellow), or grant Cotton strong magical attacks or shields. You can read up more of this in my review of Cotton Reboot. Cotton Panorama is more or less the same on a skin deep level. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. The whole 3D aspect is the biggest change this time around.
Bad wordplay aside, this really does add a new dimension to the Cotton series. From slightly spooky imagery to more colorful, psychadelic, strange imagery. More fitting of the “Cute ’em Up” moniker. Stages now delve more into split paths, and in the first level in particular you can go into hidden and not so hidden paths. I wouldn’t exactly say it is something that has a lot of purpose other than just showing off, but I like the options it gives.
That’s a Mean Screen Filter
I previously played another Ratalaika developed port/emulation release with Turrican Flashblack. I was rather impressed with the screen options on display (heh), especially the CRT shader. While Panorama Cotton doesn’t have those weird color options, the CRT filter is again incredibly deep and customizable. I don’t use CRT filters…ever, but I can admit how impressed I was by what Panorama Cotton offered.
There isn’t really much besides the game, which is disappointing. However, you’re given the option of playing the game as you would back in the day, or one with more modern assistance such as rewinds and cheats. I like this, a lot. I’m a fan of collections like Mega Man X Legacy Collection and Zero/ZX not allowing for save states and rewinds. It makes me feel more accomplished for beating these games. However, I understand for many players nowadays and for many games even, this isn’t really ideal. Which is why it’s great that you get the best of both worlds.
The Best Reason to Re-Release
Panorama Cotton is a rare game to say the least. It never left Japan in it’s initial release, was a Mega Drive game in 1994 when the Saturn’s release was impending, and had allegedly a less than 5000 copy print back. With this release, scarcity shouldn’t be an issue anymore. Not to mention, it’s getting a physical release in the west! And not just on Switch, but Genesis/Mega Drive repros!
2021 is seeming to be the year of Cotton, a fitting 30th anniversary celebration. A remake of the first game. Practically the entire series ported. Cameos in Umihara Kawase last year, and even a new game entirely coming at the end of the year.
Perhaps the $15 price point might seem a tad steep for ONE Genesis game, but for how rare this game was until now, $15 is a steal! Buy this game and show ININ, SLG, and Ratalaika their efforts are worth people’s time and should go towards more releases like this.
Buy Now: $14.99 Digital – $34.99 Physical – $75.99 Collectors – $58.99 Repro
*Game Download Code graciously supplied for the purpose of review