Interview: Rainbow Cotton Is Crafted With Tons Of Fan Feedback On The Original Game

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Rainbow Cotton - via ININ Games

ININ Games revives the classic Rainbow Cotton with enhanced visuals and upgraded mechanics to bring a fresh yet nostalgic experience. With a new Retro Mode, players can experience the authentic gameplay of Dreamcast’s 2000 Rainbow Cotton with similar sound design and challenge. 

The cherry on top is the local co-op that makes both Cotton and Silk playable to take on any challenge the game has to offer. With the game nearing release and many things to discuss, we spoke to Andreas Scholl, Lead Programmer for Rainbow Cotton, over email. 

Boss fight
Rainbow Cotton – via ININ Games

Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role on Rainbow Cotton.

Andreas: Hello, my name is Andreas Scholl, technical director at KRITZELKRATZ 3000 and Lead Programmer for Rainbow Cotton.

There are a lot of new additions to Rainbow Cotton that are exciting the community. But the Retro mode caught the most attention. How does the Retro Mode keep the essence of the original title alive while enhancing the visuals for this release?

Andreas: In the retro mode, the players can experience the essence of the original game, which is the original control mechanics, together with a fitting retro presentation. From the presentation side, it is mainly the 4:3 aspect ratio in combination with a CRT effect and reduced post-effects.

There are also some other slight changes and adaptions that are active in the retro mode. In my opinion, it is important to see and feel the comparison of the original controls versus the new game mechanics.

Rainbow Cotton - via ININ Games
Rainbow Cotton – via ININ Games

What was your approach and ideation process behind revamping not just the visuals but also the mechanics so the game delivers a fresh experience to the fans?

Andreas: When we started with the project, we did a lot of playtesting of the Rainbow Cotton Dreamcast version. Based on the playtesting we created a brainstorming list of features and game mechanics that we thought to be great for an enhancement. We also read every article and comment on YouTube playthroughs, basically, every piece of info that we found about the game.

There were quite a few matches from our experience with the gaming community, so we came up with a final list that included the hottest topics from both sides. Some new features and enhancements came up during the agile development process.

How does Rainbow Cotton exemplify a remake, compared to the 'Cotton Reboot' which was a remaster?

Andreas: Games get referred to as remasters when the game code and mechanics are basically the same, and the game has enhanced visuals like a modernized look. For Rainbow Cotton, we changed core game mechanics and added new features like the two-player co-op mode.

Also, we had to translate and rewrite the game’s original code to make it framerate-independent, along with other major changes. We tried to stay true to the original game’s spirit in every aspect but tried to improve and modernize it.

Rainbow Cotton - via ININ Games
Rainbow Cotton – via ININ Games

Could you explain the improvements made to the game's controls, such as revamped snap-back and lock-on features, and how they enhance the player's engagement?

Andreas: Opposed to the original game mechanics, the player is now in direct control of Cotton’s movement. He can move her freely around the screen and she will not automatically fly back to the center of the screen. This feels way more natural and helps to maintain a good view of the game scene.

When we played the original game, we also noticed that it was hard to shoot down targets while actively avoiding obstacles. Also, it didn’t feel satisfying that the player could only shoot down a small portion of the incoming targets. With the new enhanced fairy lock-on feature, you can visually mark targets for your fairies to attack and send them out rather quickly.

In my opinion, this makes the core gameplay a lot more enjoyable and satisfying. It feels great to shoot down enemy formations, get the rewarding items, and level up your weapon.

Expanding on the previous question, what gameplay mechanics from the original Panorama Cotton are retained in Rainbow Cotton, and how are they adapted to fit the new 3D environment?

Andreas: If you are a fan of Panorama Cotton, you will find a lot of similarities between it and Rainbow Cotton. In my eyes, Rainbow Cotton is the spiritual successor of Panorama Cotton. There is a similar weapon experience and magic system. There are also some gameplay elements, like the moving block formations in Rainbow Cotton’s Bubble City Stage that appeared in Panorama Cotton or a very similar tea-time minigame.

In Rainbow Cotton, the 3D environment feels a bit more natural, and you also have stage branches, which will give you a second variation of each stage with new encounters.

action packed gameplay
Rainbow Cotton – via ININ Games

What challenges were faced during the localization process of Rainbow Cotton, especially concerning the integration of anime cutscenes?

Andreas: When we started to develop Rainbow Cotton, one of our goals was to cooperate with the fan community of Rainbow Cotton. As I knew that Derek Pascarella and his team, including Patrick Traynor, the founder of “Sega Saturn, Shiro,” made a very good translation of the anime cutscenes in 2021, I immediately tried to reach out to them.

Luckily, we could work it all out and managed to bring them to the Rainbow Cotton team. Based on their work, we managed to localize the cutscenes via subtitling to all required languages, including English, Spanish, Italian, French, and German. We even included Japanese subtitles.

How does the collaboration between your team and Success contribute to the development and distribution of Rainbow Cotton, and what strengths does this partnership bring to the project?

Andreas: I have a lot of respect for Success and their work on the Cotton series. It feels great to team up with the original developers of the games and bring retro games to modern platforms for the fans and new audiences.

When we met with Success, they told us that they were happy with our work, and that is the greatest gift you can get as a developer. Also, it is great to get direct feedback on your work from the people who care about the license and the associated characters.

Rainbow Cotton - via ININ Games
Rainbow Cotton – via ININ Games

ININ is known for its focus on retro and arcade games. Why do you think preserving gaming heritage is important, alongside creating new titles?

Andreas: From my own experience, it feels great to play retro games on modern hardware. A lot of games from the past have great game mechanics and visuals that should not be forgotten or hidden in dusty storage rooms.

When I play video games with my teenage daughter, it is really fun to play a mix of modern and retro games. There are so many great retro games that are still waiting to be brought to a modern audience (I have a large list, hehe).

Are there any future plans or updates for Rainbow Cotton post-release, including potential DLC or additional content?

Andreas: As far as I know, there isn’t any DLC in the direct pipeline.

Anything else you would like to share with the readers?

Andreas: Thank you all for sharing your passion for retro games. I hope you will enjoy playing Rainbow Cotton and master all stages and bosses. Beware, the skeleton mini boss Godhand in stage 5 is a real beast, bringing enough life and magic to defeat him.

Also, be sure to check out the different stage branches, as there is a lot of content to be discovered. I will be happy to read your feedback on the remake of Rainbow Cotton!

Rainbow Cotton is an upcoming 3D Rail Shooter under development by ININ Games. The game is scheduled for release on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4/5, and Nintendo Switch on May 9, 2024

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