28th Sep2021

Switch Review Round-Up: Spelunker HD Deluxe / Cotton Reboot

by Phil Wheat

SPELUNKER HD DELUXE

Good god I forgot how much I hate Spelunker! Originally released waaaay back in 1983, Spelunker is – to this day – a hard as nails platformer that sees you play as the titular spelunker, traversing caves… Walking, running, climbing and jumping around. Oh and dying, a LOT. Yes, the evil that is the insta-death from mis-timing a jump or slipping off a ladder and/or rope is STILL the bane of this game, some nearly 40 years after it was originally released. And that’s still, to this day, why I hate Spelunker. Yes, this is a pixel-perfect players paradise but I’m not a pixel perfect player which means I have always struggled with it.

Yet you might have thought a redux may have been somewhat more forgiving? Nope. Speaking of redux, this version of Spelunker is clumsily tilted Spelunker HD Deluxe as it’s not a port of the original (though you can switch between modern graphics and original 8bit graphics in game) but actually of the PS3 release Spelunker HD. Which means this game looks really good – the new sprites etc. are clean and crisp and the soundtrack is fantastic. But when it comes to gameplay absolutely nothing has changed. Even the various game modes – Adventure, Competition, Championship and Endless Cave – don’t offer any variety to the original 80s gameplay. Which means Spelunker HD Deluxe still feels old-fashioned… Which, I’m sure. for some gamers out there is their idea of heaven. However times have changed and Spelunker has been outdone in the cave platforming arena by indie games like Venture Kid.

If you are going to give Spelunker HD Deluxe a chance can I recommend one thing. Play the game with the original 8bit-style graphics – at least that way you stand a chance of getting through the levels, the modern iteration is too polished and too fussy IMHO. Pixel perfect, retro-style, is definitely the way to go.

*½  1.5/5

COTTON REBOOT

It seems, given the current videogame landscape, that remakes, reboots and remasters are currently the order of the day – it feels even more prevalent with todays current-gen consoles than ever before. In some cases that can be a bad thing; in others – like Cotton Reboot – its a welcome return to video gaming. You see, the Cotton franchise goes back 30 years and has appeared on many early consoles and computers including PC Engine, Neo Geo Pocket Color, right through to the early days of the original PlayStation. And throughout the years Cotton has received acclaim for its fast action, it’s colourful and detailed presentation and its cast – especially its endearing cute central character, the young witch Cotton and her little helper fairy! However its been quite some time since, at least in the West, we’ve seen the franchise on consoles. That all changes with Cotton Reboot – an amazing challenging shoot ’em up extravaganza with 7 amazing stages, a host of baddies complete with the customary pickups, waves and hordes of explosions…

Given that gamers should know just how good the gameplay in the Cotton series is, because like a lot of its bullet-hell shmup brethren its – as usual – fantastic, we’ll focus on the remaster side of things… and to be blunt, graphically Cotton Reboot looks stunning, with absolutely no slow down during the bullet-filled firefights (and by bullet-filled I mean bullet-filled, sometimes you can’t even see the scenery below for bullets!) and a crisp vibrant look to both the scenery and the truly beautiful explosions – yes, I did say that.

On the plus side, unlike other remastered shmups that have been released over the past 12-18 months, Cotton Reboot makes the most if its screen real estate. Which is a blessing when you’re faced with a never-ending barrage of bullets and really need to see what the hell you’re doing! However there is a downside to the game… It’s too damn easy. Cotton Reboot might be a bullet-hell style shooter but its still remarkably easy to finish the game on one sitting without using continues, even moreso if you’re not playing on the harder difficulties. But honestly. when a game is this fun I’m more than happy to play through over and over trying to beat my previous run!

I’m pleased to say that yet again this is another fantastic port to a home console and one that which left me gagging for more. Cotton Reboot is, for me, an essential purchase and I can’t wait for the rest of the just-announced entries in the Cotton franchise to release on the Switch!

**** 4/5

Spelunker HD Deluxe and Cotton Reboot are available on the Nintendo Switch now from ININ Games.

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