Review by: Paul Acevedo
Japanese developer Success followed the 1994 Super Famicom release of Cotton 100% with the Sega Mega Drive-exclusive sequel Panorama Cotton that same year. This installment in the long-running cute ‘em up series ditches the 2D side-scrolling viewpoint for a 3D view similar to that of Space Harrier. Now that ININ and port developer Ratalaika have brought the game to modern consoles, gamers around the world can appreciate what a technical marvel Panorama Cotton really is.
Panorama Cotton consists of five long stages, each with at least one mid-stage boss and an end-of-stage boss. The game certainly plays like Cotton, with the heroic witch Cotton and her fairy silk constantly blasting bizarre baddies and dodging obstacles as they chase after the villain who has been burning the fairy kingdom’s precious supply of willow grass.
I’ve always found Space Harrier-style games to be pretty tough since distances are difficult to judge and the player character blocks the view of oncoming threats. Playing on Easy here, I died several times on stages 3-5, but managed to finish the game without running out of credits. Completing Challenge mode unlocks cheats for Standard mode, which should make it simple to beat Standard on Hard difficulty in order to see the true ending.
As with Cotton 100%, the cinematics in the modern port of Panorama Cotton are not translated into English, so the story is difficult to understand if you don’t speak Japanese. An English translation patch for the Mega Drive ROM has existed for a couple of years now, so there’s definitely no excuse for ININ and Ratalaika not to have put forth a similar effort on this official release. Still, cinematics only occur at the beginning and end of this one, so story plays a lighter role than it did in Cotton 100%. Just check the translation guide from 2007 to get a full rundown of the narrative.
Without knowing Panorama Cotton’s reputation, I wouldn’t have expected it to be as impressive a game as it is. Moving from 2D to 3D was not usually a smooth transition in the 1990s, especially not on 16-bit hardware. Despite the odds, though, Panorama Cotton ended up being a stunning-looking game that plays pretty well and retains most of the charm of the 2D games. Sega absolutely should have released the game in English back in 1994, but at least English-speaking gamers can finally enjoy Panorama Cotton legally and without the need to import.
Our Rating: 3.5 out of 5