Proof positive that looks aren't everything, Rainbow Cotton will go down in videogame history as one of the the best-looking, worst controlling shooters, ever. Things start off just fine, with a nice anime intro (complete with fantastic voice acting) that sets up the story, and poor Cotton. Turns out that those Willows (the huge, mystical candies that she goes nuts over), are being snapped up for some nefarious use, and a bunch of faries con(vince) her into going after them. Not that Cotton needs much convincing, for those of you who've played any of the other games in the series know- she just wants to eat all the Willows she can! Cotton fanatics will realize that this is almost the same plot as the old TurboDuo game, and the Space Harrier behind the back viewpoint is taken from the really hard to find Mega Drive game, Panorama Cotton. Problem is, both of those games combined end up being a lot better than this one!
Anyway, the game is simply beautiful to look at, with it's 60fps smoothness, and super colorful 3D graphics. In fact, if you get far enough, you'll be really blown away by all the lighting effects and variety in the later levels. The music and sound effects are great as well, and some of the tunes will make you smile every now and then. Like the Panzer Dragoon series, there are a few routes throughout each level, making the game somewhat replayable. The big problem is, the control in this game is mind-bogglingly dumb- for some unexplained reason, Success programmed the analog controller to be self-centering, which means the simple act of moving and shooting at the same time is a near impossibility. Sometimes you'll go through half a level, not sure if you're even shooting anything! Maybe the developer realized that the game was a bit short, and wanted to add some challange, but I'd rather play a beautiful and too-short game with spot-on controls than what's here... The end result is like being on one of those kiddie thrill rides at Disneyland- you keep trying to stick your hand out of the car, as it trundles along, but your ma keeps yanking it back in. Frustrating, to say the least.
Still, the game shows LOADS of promise- The game is actually pretty challenging without the awful controls, especially on the Hard setting. The enemies and bosses are supremely cool and goofy-looking, exceptionally deadly, and as usual, patterns must be learned. After you beat the level boss, You collect flying tea cups, and a big bonus if you snag most of them. No doubt, this game rates high on the super-cute scale. You can also destroy various crates, doors, walls and such to score much needed power-ups, and there are some fairies to rescue throughout the game, a la Elemental Gearbolt. You can get used to the control somewhat (after a couple of hours), but you'll still probably be feeling that you're needlesly fighting with them, as if there's a black hole in the center of the screen pulling you in.
In the end, Rainbow Cotton becomes one of those import Dreamcast games that only the "collectors" out there will truly appreciate. You know, those people out there who buy games just because they're Japanese and probably never play them. Anyone else who snaps this one up will be incredibly disappointed, especially if they were expecting this to be a fun game. Hopefully, some enterprising U.S. publisher (Working Designs, or perhaps Sega itself) will see fit to jump in and fix this one for a stateside release- With a little work, this could be a real winner...
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