Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams is a 1997 scrolling shooter arcade video game developed by Success and published by Tecmo. The fourth installment in the Cotton franchise, it is the arcade sequel to Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams. In the game, players assume the role of either the titular young witch or her rival Appli who, alongside their companions Silk and Needle, sets out on a quest to defeat several monsters and retrieve the missing “Bluewater Willow” candy to Pumpkin Kingdom. Its gameplay is similar to the first game, consisting of shooting mixed with fighting and role-playing game-esque elements using a main three-button configuration. It ran on the ST-V hardware.
Headed by Takato Yoshinari, Cotton 2 was developed by some members at Success who previously worked on the original Cotton. The game was later ported to Sega Saturn. In 1998, a remixed arcade edition titled Cotton Boomerang: Magical Night Dreams was released by Tecmo with additional characters, new gameplay and scoring systems, as well as altered stage and visuals. Both Cotton 2 and Cotton Boomerang were met with positive reception from critics, most of which reviewed them as import titles, since their release on Saturn for being faithful conversions of the arcade originals.
Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams is a scrolling shooter game similar to Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams where players assume the role of young witch Cotton or her rival Appil who alongside their companions, the fairy Silk and the hat Needle, travel across seven increasingly difficult stages through a magical dream-like world on a quest to defeat several monsters and retrieve the missing “Bluewater Willow” candy to Pumpkin Kingdom.
Like its predecessor, the players must blast various monsters and avoid being shot while collecting elemental crystal power-ups to enhance Cotton and Appli’s firepower respectively in a similar manner as Soldier Blade to unleash powerful magic spells on enemies. The color of these crystals can be changed by shooting at them and they also determines the element of Cotton and Appli’s primary shot but deploying these crystals for a magic spell decreases the firepower of each character. The game incorporates some role-playing game elements as with the original Cotton, as players are able to level up their attack up to 5 levels, but excluded gameplay mechanics in the sequel are the charge attacks and fairy abilities.
New to Cotton 2 are the introduction of a lifebar for each character to sustain multiple enemy hits and fighting game elements, as players can perform “command” shots by executing a combination of directional and button-based commands to fire in multiple directions, as well as pick up enemies and their shots to throw them around to destroy other enemies by performing one of the “command” shots to seal them into an orb and pick trapped enemies to use them as shield. The orb behaves differently based on the currently equipped elemental magic, while keeping it on-screen and scoring chain combos is crucial to reach high-scores, as it grant points by turning into a bubble depending on the number of defeated enemies after falling off-screen or hitting a strong enemy. Players can also shoot the orb to reveal health items.
Development and release
Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams was created by some members at Success who previously worked on Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams, with Takato Yoshinari heading its development as producer. Both Masahiro Fukuda and Masaru Hatsuyama returned as chief designer and programmers respectively. Artists Hiroyuki Hasegawa, Hitoshi Nishimura, Liu Xiangdong and Toshihisa Katsuki were responsible for character and monster designs, as well as backgrounds. The music was composed by Kenichi Hirata. Other companies such as Ken Production and Ishigaki Production also collaborated as production supporters.
Cotton 2: Magical Night Dreams was first released in Japanese arcades on November 1997 by Tecmo, running on the ST-V board. On December 4, 1997, Cotton 2 received an arcade-perfect conversion for the Sega Saturn published by Success in Japan, featuring an exclusive “Saturn” mode and new control options. Prior to launch, the Saturn version of Cotton 2 was unveiled at the September 1997 Tokyo Game Show just days after the game was released in arcades. A remixed arcade edition dubbed Cotton Boomerang: Magical Night Dreams was released in Japanese arcades by Tecmo on September 1998, running on the ST-V board as Cotton 2 featuring additional characters, new gameplay and scoring systems, as well as altered stage layouts and visuals. On October 8, 1998, Cotton Boomerang received a version for the Saturn published by Success in Japan, featuring an art gallery and new control options as the Cotton 2 port on Saturn.