Magical Drop

Magical Drop (マジカルドロップ, Majikaru Doroppu), sometimes referred to in Japanese as MagiDro (マジドロ), is a series of puzzle games first released in the arcade, and later primarily for several platforms such as the Neo Geo Arcade, Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Bandai WonderSwan, GBC and the Neo Geo Pocket Color; most of which were published by Data East.

Magical Drop
MagicalDrop titlescreen.png
Title screen of the arcade version of Magical Drop (known outside Japan as Chain Reaction), the first game in the series.
Genre(s)Puzzle
Developer(s)Data East
Conspiracy Entertainment (Only GBC)
Publisher(s)Data East
Classified Games (Only GBC)
First releaseChain Reaction
1995
Latest releaseMagical Drop V
2012

GameplayEdit

A stack of random colored bubbles descend from the top, and a player is defeated when a bubble hits the bottom. Bubbles can be picked up and dropped by the player's clown at the bottom, and are destroyed when three or more of the same color are put together on a single column. Chains are formed either when a single drop caused a chain reaction, or when more than one group of bubbles is destroyed in quick succession. The game is normally played with two players (one may be a computer opponent), and chains cause the opponent's stack to descend faster.

There are 24 characters, all but the Black Pierrot being named after a tarot card (although the Strength card has been represented by two characters throughout the series). Different characters have different attack patterns. The columns of the opponent's stack will descend at different rates relative to each other depending on the character chosen. This causes a disjunction of colors that may make it more difficult for the other player to clear their stack. For example, with the character Devil, all the columns will descend at the same rate, whereas with Sun, the middle columns will descend faster than the others.

HistoryEdit

In 1995, Data East released the first game in the series as a coin-operated version of this game titled Magical Drop (known in North America as Chain Reaction). Despite the arcade game being released worldwide while using the English title in North America and Europe, Data East gave the official English names of its successors the same names as their Japanese counterparts, while the home versions of the first game were never released outside Japan. The series became better known for its Neo-Geo sequels, Magical Drop II and Magical Drop III, due to the popularity of the Neo-Geo platform. The last games in the series released in the United States were Magical Drop Pocket for the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999 and Magical Drop for the Game Boy Color in 2000.

G-mode bought and currently now owns the intellectual rights to the Magical Drop franchise along with several other of Data East's franchises and titles.[1] While Data East declared bankruptcy in 2003, other publishers have re-released the PlayStation titles Magical Drop 3 + Wonderful and Magical Drop F. Magical Drop II and Magical Drop III are also available on the subscription service GameTap. In 2007, the Super Famicom version of the first Magical Drop title was released in Japan on the Virtual Console for the Wii by G-mode. In 2009, versions of Magical Drop for Android phones and iPhone were released in May and September, respectively.

On May 25, 2010, Magical Drop II was released on the Virtual Console by G-mode. In 2010, Magical Drop III was included as part of Data East Arcade Classics[2] and released on the Virtual Console in Japan on July 6, 2010. At E3 2011, UTV Ignition Entertainment announced a new sequel, Magical Drop V. Handled by the French developer Golgoth Studio, the game was released for PC on November 15, 2012.[3]

CharactersEdit

Introduced in Magical DropEdit

  • Fool: A little man wearing a purple robe. He is always seen carrying a cat with him, which happens to share the same mannerisms as him. In the sequel, it is revealed in his ending that there are, in fact, two Fools, and they are brothers
  • Magician: A young man with a narcissistic streak. While seeming mature, he has an absurd sense of humor
  • High Priestess: A scholarly young lady who spends most of her time reading books
  • Chariot: A hot-blooded knight who has no fear and never backs down from danger
  • Devil: A mischievous young boy with demonic traits such as horns and dragon wings
  • Star: A girl who carries two jugs of water. While cheerful, she can also turn into a crybaby
  • World: A goddess-like woman with three eyes and a ribbon covering parts of her body. She debuted in the original game as the final opponent and was not playable until the sequel

Introduced in Magical Drop IIEdit

  • Justice: A teenage girl with a strong sense of justice, true to her namesake
  • Strength: A muscular man who wears iron knuckles. He is sometimes referred to as Father Strength
  • Empress: A villainous woman who wears a dominatrix outfit, though she was originally a kind and gentle woman. She debuted in the game as the final opponent
  • Black Pierrot: An evil jester-like demon who acts as the game's secret boss. He was responsible for the corruption of Empress

Introduced in Magical Drop IIIEdit

  • Emperor
  • Hierophant
  • Lovers
  • Young Strength
  • Death
  • Temperance
  • Sun
  • Judgement
  • Hermit
  • Moon
  • Hanged Man
  • Tower
  • Wheel of Fortune

GamesEdit

Magical Drop (マジカルドロップ)Edit

The first game in the series, first released to arcades in 1995. It features Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Chariot, Devil, and Star as playable characters. It features a single-player mode, where the player battles each playable character before taking on World in one final encounter, as well as a two-player multiplayer mode. The game received an updated version named Magical Drop Plus 1! (マジカルドロップPLUS1!), which adds a Solo Play mode that challenges players to obtain a high score without having to battle an AI opponent. Magical Drop Plus 1! was released in English as Chain Reaction.

Magical Drop was ported to the Super Famicom, which includes a puzzle mode that challenges players to solve preset puzzles given a limited number of possible moves. The game was re-imagined for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn with different, pre-rendered characters. Finally, a port of the game is part of Magical Drop III + Wonderful; this includes the PAL version of III + Wonderful, which retains the Magical Drop Plus 1! name as opposed to using Chain Reaction.

Magical Drop II (マジカルドロップ2)Edit

Magical Drop II
 
European Arcade flyer
Developer(s)Data East
Publisher(s)
Designer(s)Shungo Katagiri
Artist(s)Asami Kaneko
Hiroshi Hachiya
Mayu Sato
Composer(s)Hiroaki Yoshida
Masaaki Iwasaki
Shōgo Sakai
SeriesMagical Drop
Platform(s)
Release
Genre(s)Puzzle
Mode(s)
CabinetUpright
Arcade systemNeo Geo MVS
CPUM68000 (@ 12 MHz),
Z80A (@ 4 MHz)
SoundYM2610 (@ 8 MHz)[4]
DisplayRaster, 304 × 224 pixels (Horizontal), 4096 colors
 
Gameplay screenshot showcasing a match between Chariot and Star.

The second game in the series moved from Data East's proprietary arcade hardware to SNK's Neo Geo. It first released in 1996. In addition to the cast of the first Magical Drop, Magical Drop II introduces Justice, as well as antagonists Strength, Empress, and Black Pierrot. One notable gameplay change is that normal bubbles and "special" bubbles can now be matched together, unlike the first game where they were considered completely separate. The "Solo Play" mode, now known as Puzzle Mode, is also changed to add more rows to the player's playfield. Finally, the Japanese version of Magical Drop II contains a third mode named Hirameki that offers preset puzzles for the player to solve.

Magical Drop II was ported to the Neo Geo CD, Super Famicom, and Sega Saturn. The Super Famicom and Saturn ports add short conversations between the characters in cutscenes, while the Super Famicom version also allows players to adjust the characters' parameters. By 2017, the Neo Geo version of the game was released on Nintendo Switch.

Magical Drop III (マジカルドロップ3)Edit

The third Magical Drop game, first released in 1997, was also developed for the Neo Geo. This games adds representatives for the remaining Tarot Major Arcana, as well as introducing a "daughter" Strength character that more closely resembles the traditional depiction of Strength. The game adds a third button, which allows players to add rows to their field at any time.[5] Additionally, attacks now sends lines to the opponent in non-even rows that vary by character. Hirameki mode is replaced by Adventure Mode, which is a board game that challenges players to reach Empress before CPU-controlled rivals. The English versions of Magical Drop III remove the hardest difficulty setting in Vs. CPU Mode and rival opponents in Adventure Mode.

The game was ported to the Sega Saturn and twice to the Sony PlayStation, alongside various other direct ports of the Neo Geo version. The Sega Saturn version changes the speed and various other aspects of gameplay. The first PlayStation port, Magical Drop III: Yokubari Tokudaigou! (マジカルドロップ3 よくばり特大号), allows the player to choose between the Saturn's rebalanced version and a version more faithful to the arcade release; the second PlayStation port, Magical Drop III + Wonderful (マジカルドロップ3+ワンダホー!) features the rebalanced gameplay mode from Yokubari Tokudaigou! alongside a port of Magical Drop Plus 1!. Magical Drop III + Wonderful was released in PAL regions as simply Magical Drop III by Swing! Entertainment.

The game was also ported to the Neo Geo Pocket Color (as Magical Drop Pocket) and the Game Boy Color (as simply Magical Drop). The Game Boy Color version does not include a CPU mode, and thus players only gain access to Magical Drop III's full roster by playing the two-player mode.

By 22 February 2018, the Neo-Geo version was released worldwide on the Nintendo Switch by HAMSTER Co.[6] and released in Japan on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.[7]

Magical Drop F - Daibouken Mo Rakujyanai! (マジカルドロップF・大冒険もラクじゃない!)Edit

The fourth entry in the Magical Drop series released exclusively on the PlayStation in Japan in 1999. It features Magical Drop III's entire cast of characters. Magical Drop F includes character-specific items, which give players unique abilities during gameplay. The game replaces Adventure Mode from III with an RPG mode.

The game's music and updated aesthetics were used in Magical Drop for Wonderswan (マジカルドロップ for ワンダースワン), which released in 1999 for Bandai's WonderSwan.

Magical Drop TouchEdit

The fifth game was developed by Data East staff and published by G-mode and released on October 20, 2009 for the iOS and Android platform. The game was specifically designed to make use of touch screen and respond to screen tilting and incorporates only six characters from the first two games. By March 30, 2012 the game was discontinued.

Magical Drop V (マジカルドロップV)Edit

The sixth Magical Drop game was developed by French independent studio Golgoth and published by UTV Ignition for Steam in 2012. Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network ports were announced, but ultimately never materialized. The game features a much smaller selection of characters, omits items, and removes Puzzle Mode; however, it adds new online gameplay modes. Characters from the cancelled Data East puzzle game Ghostlop are introduced; these three characters use Ghostlop gameplay instead of traditional Magical Drop mechanics.

ReceptionEdit

A review of the arcade version of the original game in Next Generation stated: "Chain Reaction is proving quite popular in Japan, despite the fact that this kind of game has been around now for at least five years." The reviewer scored the game two out of five stars, concluding, "It's not brilliant nor innovative, certainly not new, but it's fun and as addictive as sex after lunch... in a jester suit."[8] Mean Machines gave the Saturn version an 84 out of 100, with the reviewers remarking that the game is addictive and offers numerous options, but is frustratingly difficult in single-player mode. They disagreed as to whether it is better or worse than its competitor Baku Baku Animal.[9]

Next Generation gave the Neo Geo AES version of Magical Drop II three out of five stars, saying that it becomes monotonous after a while, but is overall solid and reasonably addictive. He found the game's most distinctive quality was its accelerated pace, remarking that, "You don't have to be as precise as [in] some puzzle games, but there is no time to think, just time to do."[10] Reviewing the Nintendo Switch release, Nintendo Life called it "a true classic, and a must-play for puzzle game fans." Similarly to Next Generation, the reviewer said that the game is defined by how it rewards fast reflexes rather than strategy, particularly noting that there is no need to plan out combos as in most games of its type, a variation which he found "nothing short of exhilarating." Additionally praising the colorful atmosphere and presentation, catchy music, engaging multiplayer, and ideal use of the Joycon controller, he gave it 8 out of 10 stars.[11]

Engadget and Destructoid gave Magical Drop V mixed-to-negative reviews, citing numerous glitches, lack of series-staple features and mechanics, and an incredibly poor translation.[12][13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Data East Games". dataeastgames.com. Data East. 2000. Archived from the original on June 19, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  2. ^ "Data East Arcade Classics". nintendo.com. Nintendo. 2010. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  3. ^ JC Fletcher (October 18, 2012). "Magical Drop V magically drops on PC November 15". joystiq.com. AOL Inc. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2019.
  4. ^ "SNK NeoGeo MVS Hardware (SNK)". system16.com. Retrieved 2019-10-31.
  5. ^ Johnny Ballgame; Major Mike (June 1997). "Magical Drop III". GamePro. No. 105. IDG. p. 34.
  6. ^ "ACA NEO GEO MAGICAL DROP III for Nintendo Switch". Nintendo Life. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  7. ^ Chris Moyse (February 24, 2018). "Magical Drop III available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch". Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  8. ^ "Chain Reaction - Next Generation". Next Generation. No. 13. Imagine Media. January 1996. p. 175.
  9. ^ "Magical Drop Saturn Review". Mean Machines. No. 42. EMAP. April 1996. p. 79.
  10. ^ "Magical Drop II Review - Next Generation". Next Generation. No. 19. Imagine Media. July 1996. p. 83.
  11. ^ Morgan Sleeper (June 30, 2017). "Magical Drop II Review". Nintendo Life. Nlife Media. Retrieved February 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Heidi Kemps (October 1, 2013). "Magical Drop 5 review: Magical Mess". Verizon Media. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
  13. ^ "Review: Magical Drop V". November 15, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2017.

External linksEdit