Discussing ‘Rainbow Cotton Remaster’ With Developer KRITZELKRATZ 3000’s Andreas Scholl

Hello, friends. You’ve probably noticed we’ve been doing a lot of interviews lately, but we just can’t resist the chance to talk to the people who work on the games we know and love. I recently was given a very interesting opportunity. The upcoming Rainbow Cotton Remaster from ININ Games is a much bigger effort than many of the previous Cotton rereleases. It was originally a Dreamcast game, and it certainly had some room for improvement if one was inclined to do so. Put in charge of that was developer KRITZELKRATZ 3000 (you are required to shout that name when you say it), and we were given the chance to ask some questions of technical director and lead programmer Andreas Scholl. Shall we get to the questions and answers? Yes, we shall.

TouchArcade (TA): Thank you for your time today. Can you tell us a little about yourself, your role on this game, and your favorite pizza toppings?

Andreas Scholl (AS): Hi there, my name is Andreas Scholl and i am located in southern Germany close to Munich (with its famous Oktoberfest). I have been in love with video games since I was a kid playing the first arcade games like Pac-Man and Defender back in the 80s. I took the role of lead programming for Rainbow Cotton. Together with my close friend Pascal Heiler, I managed the overall project and we made all of the major decisions.

Pizza is of course one of my favorite dishes, who would have guessed. As I am a vegetarian I usually go with veggie toppings.

TA:  How does it feel to be working on such a well-loved franchise as Cotton?

AS: It is like a dream come true. As I am a nerd for Japanese video games and also loved the Dreamcast with all of my heart it was the perfect project for me. Seeing all the lovely art, 3d models and animations each day was a great motivation.

TA: What was your first experience with Cotton? Your Cotton history, if you will?

AS: I knew the Cotton series from the Sega Saturn so I remembered it as a side scrolling arcade shooter with cute graphics. I think I hadn’t played Panorama Cotton or Rainbow Cotton before starting to work on the project. So I had to do a bit of a catch up at the beginning. In general, I love Cotton for her unusual character, like she looks super cute but also has this selfish Willow demanding personality and doesn’t care if she has to use brute force to get what she wants.

TA: What have been some of the challenges involved in remaking Rainbow Cotton for modern platforms?

AS: One of the biggest challenges was the sheer amount of code we had to port. I totally underestimated this when I made the first prototype of the game. The mini bosses and bosses in Rainbow Cotton are complex encounters that all have their own specialized code, a lot of the time containing complicated procedural motion functions. There is also a lot of challenging math involved, so the original code wasn’t easy to read and understand. While remaking we also had to integrate a lot of changes to the code to make it framerate independent and work properly with the modern game engine.

TA: Rainbow Cotton probably has the most mixed reputation of the entire series in its original form. Can you speak to some of the improvements that have been made for this remake?

AS: When I first played the game the first thing that came into my mind was that the controls need to be improved for the remake. I then read a lot of reviews and watched playthroughs from other people, just to find out that most of them had the same issues with the game. Luckily when I talked to our publisher and SUCCESS they told us that we had the freedom to improve the game mechanics.

Another gameplay element that was decided early on to be enhanced was the fairy targeting mechanic. It is a great feature that you can send out the fairies to help attack the enemies, but it didn’t feel great in the original game. In the remake the player can mark the enemies with the crosshair and send them out rather quickly.

There were several other quality of life changes like adding a life bar for the bosses and minibosses and showing the player where he has to fly to take branches in the stages.

TA: How involved (if at all) have the original developers been in this remake? Did you get any advice or guidance from them? If so, what?

AS: The contact with SUCCESS was mostly through our publisher, so I don’t really know if any or which of the original developers were participating in the project.

I met Shinya Nagatomo-san (the producer of Cotton Rock’n’Roll) in person at the Gamescom and we had a nice conversion about Rainbow Cotton and the gameplay improvements. Also they gave us feedback on the different milestones we made with comments what they would like to see improved.

When the game was presented at the Tokyo Game Show there were some of the original voice actors playing the game.

TA: What are you personally most proud of in the Rainbow Cotton remake?

AS: I’m most proud of the gameplay improvements that we made and that after playing Rainbow Cotton so many times during development I’m still having fun playing it. For me it is really important to make the fans of the series happy, so the biggest thing for me would be that the game is well received by the Cotton community.

TA: Is there anything you wanted to do in this remake that you just couldn’t make happen?

AS: I found an early article about Rainbow Cotton that stated that Cotton could get off her broom and walk through the stages, and I wondered where this was coming from. While porting the player code I saw that there were a lot of remnants of this gameplay mechanic. So I thought maybe I could get this to work somehow. I tried to reactivate the code and the gameplay mechanics for this feature to have Cotton running, shooting and using her magic while running. It looked really cute. Unfortunately, I couldn’t really integrate it as a real feature into the remake due to time constraints. I’m also guessing that there were many problems and edge cases occurring from this planned feature, which is why they scrapped it back then.

We integrated Cotton’s standing and running animations into the remakes option menu to get a glimpse of how it would look.

TA: This is your free space to give any message you’d like to our readers. Say anything you want!

I want to thank all of the fans of Cotton and in general fans of retro games for their loyalty. Also I want to thank Derek Pascarella and his team for making the English fan translation of Rainbow Cotton. They were also a part of the remake’s development team.

I’m looking forward to bringing back more great video games from the past and hope you all will enjoy it. Thanks for sharing my passion.

Well, those were some nice answers, weren’t they? I’d like to thank Andreas once again for his time, and to Derek at Hound PR for facilitating this interview. Rainbow Cotton will be available digitally on Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStations 4 and 5, Microsoft Xbox One, and Steam on May 9th. Many of those shops will let you pre-order now, if that’s a thing you want to do. You can also order the physical version through Strictly Limited Games, but it might be a bit of a wait for those so do keep that in mind. I hope you enjoyed this interview, and please look forward to our review of Rainbow Cotton when it launches.