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Video Game / Fantastic Night Dreams Cotton

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A series of side-scrolling shooters made by Success, Cotton was one of the earliest Cute Em Ups involving Cute Witches and Beam Spam to pre-date Touhou Project. Known mostly to hardcore gamers, the games involved the titular Natta de Cotton searching for candies called Willows (not to be confused with the film Willow), and her fairy side-kick Silk who, when not trying to look for help to save some kingdom, encourages Cotton to help her anyway with the promise of said sweets.

To Cotton, Willows are Serious Business, and she will absolutely do ANYTHING in her power to get hold of (and consume) one of these, such as blasting everything in her way, apparently...

In 2021, to celebrate the series' 30th anniversary, a series of ports of most games in the series was released for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, along with a remake of the first game and a brand new game.


Games in the series:

  • Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton (1991) - Released originally for the Arcade, Cotton made its way to the PC-Engine/TurboGrafx-16, Sharp X68000, PlayStation (as Cotton Original) and Neo Geo Pocket and introduces us to our protagonist. After an evil mist envelopes the world of Filament keeping it nighttime forever, a fairy named Silk seeks for help. She happens upon Cotton, who, in the witch's habit of doing nothing but searching for Willow treats, initially ignores her plea. That is, of course, until the fairy makes mention of said candy... This game is also mildly notable for having the first ever Fan Translation of a Playstation game. The arcade version was ported to Sega's Astro City Mini in 2020, and the Sharp X68000 was included in the Reboot.
  • Märchen Adventure Cotton 100% (1994) - Cotton's debut on the Super Famicom; rereleased for the PlayStation in 2003 as part of the "SuperLite 1500" budget series. Unlike the first game, it never made it outside Japan until it was ported to PS4 and Switch in 2021.
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  • Panorama Cotton (1994) - Released for the Mega Drive, and later for Switch and PS4 in 2021, Panorama Cotton did not play like a traditional side-scrolling shooter. Instead, it pretty much played like a clone of Space Harrier... The ruler of Filament, Queen Velvet, runs off to "protect her kingdom" after divining an incoming catastrophe (via means of plant petals). Meanwhile, word spreads out of monsters burning any Willow they see, the fumes of which cause sickness among the fairies. As Silk cleans up some of the burnt remains, Cotton appears after eating a charred piece and demands an explanation for the atrocity...
  • Magical Night Dreams Cotton 2 (1997) - Like its much older predecessor, this game started out in the arcades, this time on Sega's ST-V hardware; like most ST-V games, it made its way to the Sega Saturn. This game introduces the player to Appli, a princess who runs off with a treasure from her Kingdom of Pumpkin to use its power to grant a wish... except she just got swept by a tornado and now lost it. Upon searching, Cotton and Silk stumbles into Appli and overhears the princess' assistant Needle speak of a "Bluewater Willow". Appli and Needle scout out more while Cotton and Silk give chase...
  • Magical Night Dreams Cotton Boomerang (1998) - A re-release of Cotton 2 for the same systems. Graphics and level design are mostly the same, but the character selection and abilities are very different.
  • Rainbow Cotton (2000) - Released exclusively for the Sega Dreamcast, this is another into-the-screen shooter.
  • Magical Pachinko Cotton (2003) - A pachinko game featuring characters from the series.
  • Fantastic Night Dreams: Cotton Reboot (2021): A reboot of the Cotton series developed by game store Beep in collaboration with the original developer Success released for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. Also includes a port of the Sharp XK68000 version of the original game.
  • Cotton Guardian Force Saturn Tribute (2021): A Compilation Rerelease for the Nintendo Switch and PS4 featuring Cotton 2, Cotton Boomerang and the unrelated Success-developed shooter Guardian Force.
  • Superlative Night Dreams: Cotton Rock 'n' Roll (known as Superlative Night Dreams: Cotton Fantasy outside of Japan) (2021 Japan, 2022 overseas): A brand new installment for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, promising both sidescrolling and behind-the-back gameplay, as well as gameplay mechanics inspired by Success's other titles such as Starfighter Sanvein and Psyvariar.

In addition to her own series, Cotton has made various Crossover appearances in other video games, such as Rondo of Swords for the Nintendo DS, Studio SeistA's Trouble Witches Origin (as DLC alongside Silk) and Success' sweets-themed puzzle game KASIORI (again, alongside Silk). Cotton is also a playable character in Umihara Kawase Fresh!, as well as Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!!note  alongside Appli.

The games provide examples of:

  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the remake, you get unlimited continues. Also, Cotton's and Silk's hitbox is clearly visible which makes dodging bullets much more bearable.
  • Arrange Mode: Cotton II has Saturn Mode, which has altered stage backgrounds and tweaked boss battles.
  • Astral Finale: The final stage of Rock 'n Roll is set above the planet's atmosphere, taking on Tacoot's space fleet.
  • Attack Drone: The Fairies can be used as such to do quick damage to enemies.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The PC-engine soundtrack to the first Cotton contains a disproportionate amount of electric guitar set to what's otherwise a Cute Witch and her fairy's quest for sweets.
  • "Blind Idiot" Translation: The arcade release, very much so, with lines like "Please down with the evils."
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Cotton is an accomplished witch who has the power to save entire worlds, but she couldn't care less about that, and needs to be bribed with Willows in order to be arsed to put in the work.
  • Bullet Hell:
    • Reboot on its hardest difficulty settings comes really close to being a proper bullet hell.
    • Rock 'n Roll on the other hand does feature proper bullet hell patterns. This actually helps, since many characters' scoring systems revolve around cancelling bullets. Saiva Ria in particular needs to buzz those bullets to level herself up.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Silk promises Cotton a giant Willow that doesn't actually exist to get her to avoid eating the seven Willows and keep searching, thus saving the two worlds. Silk isn't a villain, though; she's just working with what she's got.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Cotton gets a censored one in Rainbow.
    Cotton: I'm gonna f%&* your s#%@ up, b*%^#!
  • Crossover: As already mentioned above, Cotton has made various appearances in other video games, such as Rondo of Swords, Trouble Witches Origin (as DLC alongside Silk), KASIORI (again alongside Silk), Umihara Kawase Fresh!, and Umihara Kawase BaZooKa!! alongside Appli.
  • Cute 'em Up: Quite possibly one of the earliest examples, along with the Kiki Kai Kai series.
  • Cute Witch: Cotton herself. Also Appli, complete with a talking pointy hat casting colorful spells as she flies on her broom.
  • Defeat Means Playable: In Rock 'n Roll, completing the game, including the Final Boss Tacoot, unlocks Tacoot as a playable character.
  • Difficulty by Acceleration: Panorama moves at such high speeds that the level's scrolling into walls might kill you more than the enemies. There's an option to turn up the speed regardless.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: In Cotton II, Cotton and Appli play identically except that Cotton defaults to the Fire element and Appli to Ice. Starting with Cotton Boomerang, both get their own shot type.
  • Easter Egg: In Cotton 100%, if you never collect a single item during all Tea Times, then at the end of the game's final Tea Time a giant cup will fall down. It's worth over 300,000 points!
  • Everything's Deader with Zombies: The cemetery stage in the first game has a zombie boss.
  • Evil Is Petty: Every villain in the series has some silly motivation:
    • Wool, the most recurring antagonist, just wants to cause mischief for the hell of it.
    • Calmin from Panorama is burning Willows just because he ate too much and got big.
    • Tacoot from Fantasy wants revenge on Cotton for being accidentally knocked by her into space.
  • Fairy Companion: Silk is this to Cotton, almost always seen flying alongside her broom. Amusingly, if you beat Panorama Cotton with a million points, Cotton becomes Silk's Fairy Companion.
  • Fairy Sexy: In contrast to Cotton's innocent witch getup, Silk more often than not is clad in a bikini, especially noticeable on the box art. In Magical Night Dreams: Cotton 2 & Magical Night Dreams: Cotton Boomerang, Silk sports Absolute Cleavage as well.
  • Feelies: The Sega Saturn of "Magical Night Dreams Cotton 2" came with a full-color 1998 Cotton calendar.
  • Flat Character: Wool, the most recurring antagonist in the series, has no actual characterization, she usually just appears at the end of the games, taunts the player and is fought as the final boss, not being mentioned after. Played for Laughs in Cotton 2, where Cotton and Appli pretty much ignore her presence and Cotton has no idea who she even is.
  • Gainax Ending: After unlocking and completing a playthrough in Swap Mode, Panorama Cotton ends with a fourth wall-breaking apology by the devs for a lack of an ending or any kind of reward because of a lack of space on the cartridge. So instead, the player's treated to a brief monologue musing about the struggles of peoples' suffering juxtaposed by the size of Silk's breasts, and a thanks for playing.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The Saturn Tribute rereleases of Cotton 2 and Boomerang (as well as unrelated game Guardian Force) got saddled with a whopping 10 frames (or 1/6 of a second) of input lag, both on Switch and PS4.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: All of Rock 'n Roll's cutscenes are from Cotton's perspective, even if you're playing as any other character.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: In Cotton 2 and Cotton Boomerang, you can grab enemies and throw them at other enemies for massive score bonuses. Appli can do such in Rock 'n Roll, due to her mechanics being based on Cotton 2. Same with Guest Fighter Kawase, due to her mechanics being taken from her own game series.
  • Guest Fighter: Rock 'n' Roll has four characters taken from both Success and Studio Saizensen's libraries: Fine and Psyva Ria (Moe Anthropomorphisms of the fighter ships from Sanvein and Psyvariar respectively) for the former, and Umihara Kawase and Luffie from Doki Doki Poyacchio for the latter.
  • Guide Dang It!: Cotton 2 has a variety of special attacks that require complex Fighting Game-esque commands and which aren't explained in-game.
  • Hard Mode Perks: In Rock 'n Roll, enemies fire more bullets on Hard and fire revenge bullets on defeat in Extra. These extra bullets can be cancelled, or buzzed as well as Ria, to earn much higher scores than on Normal.
  • Harder Than Hard: The first game's console versions have "You Do!" difficulty, above Hardest (in other words, Harder Than Harder Than Hard), in which enemies release "revenge bullets" when destroyed. And not just your garden-variety aimed revenge bullets, these ones home in on you.
  • Heroic BSoD: Poor Cotton has one at the end of the first game when the seven Willows she gathered are used by the Queen not to produce a giant Willow, but instead to restore light to Filament. As Silk apologizes for lying to Cotton, the latter turns into stone out of despair...only to turn back when Silk makes up a rumor that a golden Willow was stolen from a neighboring kingdom, prompting Cotton to blast off in search of her supposed treasure...
  • Jerkass: Cotton is incredibly abrasive to everyone she meets, and will only bother to help out with the latest crisis if she's bribed with Willows.
  • Left Hanging: What became of the Fairy Queen after the Hard Mode ending of Panorama Cotton is never addressed.
  • Lighter and Softer: The first Cotton game was pretty dark in the visuals. Marchen Adventure Cotton 100% is almost a remake but much lighter in content, e.g. the zombie/demon boss in the cemetery became a pretty doll in a Gothic dress, and so on.
  • Lost in Translation: In Rock 'n Roll, Saiva Ria's name is a pun on Psyvariar. However in the English translation, only her given name, Ria, is displayed, removing one of the connections to the game she represents.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism: Ria from Rock 'n Roll is the personification of the Axion-μ from Psyvariar, wearing wings that are designed like its wings. Same with Fine, who is based on the Sanvein fighter from Starfighter Sanvein.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Silk, as explained above. She's featured up front and center in most official art, skimpy clothing and all in what's otherwise a very tame series.
  • Nintendo Hard: Not nearly as much as some shooters, but the series can be quite challenging with lots of enemies on screen, Cotton's generally fast movements, and limited continues make this a pretty tough series at times.
  • Nominal Hero: Cotton is pretty much a one-note character, and that one note is "eat Willows." She doesn't care about saving the world, and has to be bribed into fighting.
  • Nostalgia Level: Completing Rock 'n Roll (continues are allowed) unlocks a level from the game your Player Character originates from. For example, clearing as Cotton unlocks Port Town from the original Cotton, while clearing as Ria unlocks the Earth stage from Psyvariar, and so on.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Cotton isn't trying to save the fairy kingdom or the world. She's looking for Willows to eat.
  • Plot Coupons: Parodied with the Willow candy; they really have nothing to do with being able to save the world, but collecting them is the real reason Cotton is fighting. Actually, they're the crystals of light needed to save the fairy kingdom, but Cotton doesn't know or care about that.
  • Punny Name: In Rock 'n Roll, Ria's full name, Saiva Rianote , is a play on Psyvariar, the game she represents. Same with Fine, whose full name, San Fine, is a play on Sanvein.
  • Rebellious Princess: Appli runs away from home with a wish-granting artifact for her own rather less than selfless actions.
  • Scenery Porn: Not at first, but as soon as the first game was upgraded to more capable hardware, the backgrounds became much more vibrant and crisp, starting with the Sharp-X port. This especially shined with Panorama and Boomerang.
  • Self-Deprecation: Finishing Panorama Cotton in a subsequent playthrough after getting a million points without a continue gives you a note by the developers where they lament the lack of cutscenes and a longer ending due to the limited cartridge space. They also state they'd like to give you a reward, but again, there's no space for it.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Poor Cotton always gets the short end of the stick in her hunt for Willows:
    • In the original game, all the Willows she had gathered are used by the Queen to restore light to Filament, as opposed to producing a giant Willow like Silk said (which was actually a lie to get Cotton to help her in saving the world).
    • In 100%, she gets rewarded Marchen Land's specialty Willow as thanks for defeating Leather. A teeny, tiny one, to be exact. Cotton is not amused.
    • In Panorama, Calmin, after getting his butt handed to him by Cotton, attempts to give her a Willow as a peace offering. Unfortunately, said Willow happens to be one that he had burned earlier. Cue the Vomit Indiscretion Shot and Calmin getting launched into the sky.
    • In Cotton 2, it turns out that the Bluewater Willow that Cotton and Appli had spent the entire game searching for had already been eaten by Cotton earlier, who promptly comes down with a bad case of diarrhea for her troubles, and indirectly leads to the Pumpkin Kingdom falling into ruin.
    • In Rainbow Cotton, it turns out that the "Legendary Willow" that Cotton had been fighting for was in fact a stone slab containing recipes for making other Willows. This, combined with Cotton being unable to eat any of the Specialty Willows in the towns she had visited for various reasons, causes her to finally snap and go on a rampage.
    • Zig-zagged in Rock 'n' Roll: Cotton finally gets to eat a Willow (and a giant one at that!) in the end. Unfortunately, it's simply too large for her to finish, so she has to settle for using a BFG to blow it to bits instead.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The Japanese version of the original Cotton ported to the PC-engine features the option to keep the Japanese voice acting with a translated script in perfectly clear English. In contrast, the American version just removes the voice acting.
  • Theme Naming: Almost every character name is a reference to tailoring: Cotton, Silk, Velvet, Needle, Knit, Filament...
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Cotton finally gets to eat a Willow, and a gigantic one at that, in Fantasy. Too bad she's unable to finish it, though.
  • Timed Mission: In Rock 'n Roll, Fine's gimmick is that instead of traditional Video-Game Lives, she operates on a timer that starts at 600 seconds, similar to Starfighter Sanvein (the player ship of which she's a Moe Anthropomorphism of). She gains a few seconds every time she collects a crystal, gains 100 seconds every 5,000,000 points, and loses 100 seconds every time she gets hit; if the time runs out it's game over.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Cotton really, really loves her willows, to the point of being her main motivation in most games. This just so happens to include saving the local populous as a bonus.
  • Video Game Remake: Cotton Reboot! is a remake of the first game, more specifically the X68000 version.
  • Violation of Common Sense: During the Tea Time bonus rounds, it's possible to get more points than you would by collecting teacups by avoiding all of them.
  • Weird Moon: The skull-shaped moon right at the beginning of the first Cotton game. Said moon would show up in later stages across different games, such as in Cotton 2 and Fantasy.

Tea Time!

Alternative Title(s): Cotton