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Rainbow Cotton Interview: Lead Programmer Sheds Light on the Dreamcast Remake

Rainbow Cotton Interview: Lead Programmer Sheds Light on the Dreamcast Remake - Article

by Evan Norris , posted on 17 April 2024 / 1,932 Views

If you haven't played Rainbow Cotton before, you're not alone. A Dreamcast exclusive released only in Japan, it's not exactly a household name. Looking to change that, and bring the sixth-gen game back into the spotlight, is German studio KRITZELKRATZ 3000, which — with the backing of publisher ININ and original developer SUCCESS — has remade the 3D shoot-'em-up from the ground up. Featuring several modern quality-of-life upgrades, plus HD graphics and a brand new local co-op mode, it promises to merge the past and present when it launches digitally on consoles and PC on May 9.

Ahead of the game's release, I chatted with Andreas Scholl, technical director at KRITZELKRATZ 3000 and lead programmer for Rainbow Cotton, about what fans can expect from the remake.

VGCHARTZ: We've seen a lot of Cotton ports and remasters as of late. What makes Rainbow Cotton worthy of a full remake?Andreas Scholl, technical director at KRITZELKRATZ 3000 and lead programmer for Rainbow Cotton.

SCHOLL: Rainbow Cotton is the final shoot-'em-up entry of the Cotton series before it got revived in 2021, so it's an important milestone in the Cotton game history. It is also the only entry that is fully 3D. In addition to that, it was released in Japan only and I think it has a lot of potential as a game with its cute video sequences and in-game graphics. There is also some room for improvement in the original gameplay that can be handled in a remake.

VGCHARTZ: In terms of mechanics, how close is Rainbow Cotton to the original?

SCHOLL: While trying to stay true to the spirit of the original game, we went on to improve the key elements (core loop) according to the feedback we gathered. The main focus was the controls of the game. We also made changes to the collision system, the frame rate, and various other key factors.

VGCHARTZ: Tell me more about these new features and gameplay changes?

SCHOLL: There is a lot of stuff to talk about here. As I mentioned before we completely reworked the control scheme. Cotton can now be controlled directly and she will not get dragged back to the center of the screen. Also we enhanced the fairy targeting mechanism; the players are now able to mark targets and send out the fairies rather quickly. There are a lot of graphical adjustments like having an animated face of Cotton in the HUD, and Cotton appearing in the title screen and the options menu. We made balancing adjustments to Cotton's magic. The bosses and mini bosses have a life bar to visualize the player's progress. Also there is the new two player co-op mode.

VGCHARTZ: How does that two-player co-op mode work?

SCHOLL: In the two-player co-op, one player is controlling Cotton and the other player is assisting Cotton by controlling the fairy Silk. Silk is able to move freely around the screen and she can also attack with her own magic bullets. In addition to that, Silk can also use her fairy targeting to fly to bigger enemies to inflict more damage. It is a perfect mode to play with other family members as Silk can assist Cotton in taking down targets and collecting extras.

VGCHARTZ: Is there a particular stage or boss you enjoy the most?

SCHOLL: There are a lot of cool mini boss and boss encounters in Rainbow Cotton. I love Gebo-Gebo, the boss of stage 1, for his cute animations and voice acting. Regarding the stages I think that stage 3 with its underwater appeal and Osashimi the big fish as the boss is really cool.

VGCHARTZ: The trailer for the game promises "Retro Mode". Is that the original, unaltered Dreamcast game, or something else?

SCHOLL: We wanted to provide a game mode that is closer to the original game experience. The players will still play the remake but with several adjustments to bring it closer to the original. You will play in 4:3 like on the Dreamcast with a CRT filter for nostalgia. There is also the original HUD layout, with no real-time shadows and other post effects. All in all it's another way to experience the game and play with the original control scheme for the extra challenge.

VGCHARTZ: Tell me about your relationship with SUCCESS. How has that partnership helped make this game a reality?

SCHOLL: We had a very good relationship with SUCCESS. The contact was mainly through our publisher ININ but we also met the SUCCESS team at the Gamescom expo and exchanged our ideas on the port. There was a lot of material from the original development that got archived and that we could use. They gave us good feedback on our milestones and we could always ask if we had questions.

VGCHARTZ: What was the most challenging part of remaking Rainbow Cotton?

SCHOLL: The complexity of the original game code was a real challenge. It took a lot more time than estimated and there were some parts that were really hard to understand, analyze, and port.

VGCHARTZ: What was the most rewarding part?

SCHOLL: The most rewarding part was playing the game with the enhanced features and feeling how the changes affected the gameplay in a positive way. I played the game so many times during development and when I made the final play-throughs in the mastering phase of the game it still felt fun and addictive to complete the game. There are some parts of the game that are quite challenging, even if you know all the details.

VGCHARTZ: Finally, how do you measure the success of a remake like this? Is it sales, critical reception, mindshare, or perhaps some combination of the three?

SCHOLL: I put a lot of passion in the remake of Rainbow Cotton. For me the success is completely measured by the reception of the game by the Cotton fans. I also hope that players that didn't have the opportunity to play Rainbow Cotton on the Dreamcast will enjoy the game and have a lot of fun playing it.    

I'd like to thank Andreas Scholl for his time and insightful answers, and PR Hound for arranging the interview. You can read more about the remake of Rainbow Cotton on the ININ website. It lands on Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series, and Steam on May 9. 

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Leynos (on 18 April 2024)

I like the cotton games but DC game wasn't great and this just looks ugly.

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