Magical Drop PS3 Review
Sony’s recent PSN releases of import PS1 titles have been commendable ventures, allowing hardcore gamers to legally experience some of the most popular games that have never set foot outside of Japan. Personally, it would have been better to actually have those games translated, as many of the titles provided have been accurately translated by ROM hackers for years, but it’s still an appreciated gesture either way.
Thankfully as a puzzle game, Magical Drop can be played without any required translation; the series has enjoyed a fair amount of success spanning across multiple consoles, as well as sequels on both the iPhone and Android.
Most of you may have also come across the following GIF. on more than one occasion:
Turns out that is one of the series’ most popular characters, so you have Magical Drop to thank for going cross-eyed.
Before you ask, no she is not featured in this game; in this version, the characters are rendered in 3D and all look like secondhand Christmas ornaments you would find in a back alley ninety nine cents store. While it may seem unfair to criticize the visuals for an early PlayStation One title, Magical Drop’s stiff animations are horrendous regardless of any era. That flying angel baby is especially the stuff of nightmares.
Nightmare-fueled designs aside, how does the gameplay stack up? As a competitive puzzle game, the goal of Magical Drop is to outlast your opponent (whether AI or player-controlled) by clearing out the colored drops as they drop down. In order to do so, players must stack three or more drops of the same colored vertically, which cause the drops to disappear. Doing so will also make any adjacent drops of the same color also vanish, resulting in chains to help clear space as well as score more points.
The closest comparisons to other puzzle games would be Bust A Move and Critter Crunch, but the big difference with Magical Drop is that players can “hold” as many drops of the same color as they want. This allows for further strategizing by creating as big a chain as possible, and it makes for a simple but satisfactory experience. The downside to this is that the game can also be monstrously brutal, even on the easiest setting (the difficulty is actually determined by the character you choose). As if sensing that you’re doing well, the frequency of drops will increase in speed real fast, giving you little time to think.
In addition to the “Story Mode” (which is actually just a series of AI challenges), the game also has an Endless Mode (see how long you survive) and a Puzzle Mode where you must clear a set of drops using a limited number of moves. These modes are typical in most puzzle games, but they hardly make up for Magical Drop’s otherwise barebones package; there are few unlockables or any real incentive to keep playing, and the game obnoxiously only has one song that loops over and over no matter what mode you’re playing.
As a puzzler, Magical Drop is as capable as its competitors, but lacks the visual polish or extra features found in other titles. It isn’t a bad game, but there are many more alternatives out there that are cheaper, better looking, and also in your native language. Stick with one later releases if you really want to experience this series….preferably any with jiggling fairies.