Here's another wacky shooter from our friends in the Far East. While Cotton has seen numerous incarnations, today we focus on the scrappy Neo Geo Pocket Color version ... which may not have been the best idea.
This game is part one in the three-part Cotton series. The protagonist is a plucky little witch who sets out on a quest with her fairy companion to restore light to the world.
The game plays a lot like every other quirky shooter you've played that you never really felt like you fully understood. Having the fairy in tow helps substantially, as it provides more fire (similar to the "option" upgrades in Gradius), and every shooter fan knows it's all about the fire power baby! You have your standard ammunition and ground ammunition??"and that's it. At least, I never came across a secondary weapon.
You do collect spells which are activated by holding down the fire button, but that in itself is also one of the problems. Everyone who's read "The Shoot-em-up Bible" (written by 80's superstars Jet, oddly enough), KNOWS "the super-charged attack cannot have within its parameters a set number of uses, limited to one's ability to collect by means of themselves secondary rounds" (Super-Charged Attacks, pg. 164). I found that very limiting indeed.
The means of collecting more power-ups come from destroying enemies and shooting the crystal they drop to the color of your liking. The colors come in red, blue, and yellow flavors. The attacks themselves are a dragon-shaped fire beam, or a lightning storm/ blitzkrieg sort of attack. The third colored crystal gives your character a higher level of experience points. Still, boss fights are extremely difficult without the "unlimited ability to reek vast amounts of damage, the likes of which hitherto unseen by man or beast within the confines of this, our planet" (pg.166).
Overall, this is a mediocre shooter. The controls are responsive enough, and the enemies are of your garden-variety nocturnal fare: bats, skeletons, flying "things" and such. I think I owe it to myself to unearth a 16-bit version and put it through the ultra-harsh, condescending video game critic rigors. And YOU owe it to yourself to find a copy of "The Shoot-em-up Bible", available through Hoofton Mifflon, or some such publisher.