Magical Drop V Is Out. Here’s How It Plays

By Aung (DrakosAmatras) . December 15, 2012 . 4:30pm

Magical Drop is a series of puzzle games started by the now-defunct Data East, the developer behind various arcade games around that time—Captain America and the Avengers, Side Pocket—and perhaps more famous known nowadays for Bad Dudes. The story of the Magical Drop series—if it counts as a story—involves various characters representing the Major Tarot Arcanas challenging each other in puzzle matches. The premise in V specifically states that they’re fighting in a tournament that would grant a wish to the winner, but it wasn’t particularly obvious in the scenes in between, short as they are.


Much of the time, the characters don’t even sound like they’re in competition with each other—let alone them bringing it up—as much as merely joking or playing around together. In any case though, it’s safe to say that the premise hasn’t gotten any more complex than the previous ones’.


Similar to various puzzle games like Puzzle Bobble and Tetris, tiles of different colors and symbols—spheres in this case—slowly drop down a vertical rectangular box. You control a cursor at the bottom, shaped like a jester {which, in early installments, is actually represented by a small sprite of the character being played}. Your objective is to pull in bottommost spheres from a column and throwing back up another lane, in order to stack at least 3 spheres of the same color vertically, clearing them from the field.


Every cleared cluster and chain reaction sends an "Attack" to the opponent’s side, adding more spheres to their field. Each character has a designated attack pattern; for example, Chariot’s attacks add spheres in an arrowhead formation (i.e: more pressure on some columns than others) while Fool’s is just a regular, even drop. The match is won by forcing the opponent’s sphere mass to reach the bottom or filling a quota of 200 cleared spheres (the amount of which can be adjusted in custom modes).


Perhaps a visual demonstration of sorts would help here:



Pulling down from the current column nets the two blue spheres; green ones don’t follow because they’re different in color from the bottommost ones. Throwing the two blues back up the column to the left makes a stack of 4. You can take in and hold as many spheres of the same color as you want, but once you’ve picked up a color, you can’t switch to another without putting the current ones down.


Here we have a big stack of green spheres that aren’t cleared because they were accumulated naturally. Pulling in the row with 4 greens already stacked, and throwing back up clears not only the vertical stack, but every sphere of the same color that are in contact with it horizontally and vertically.


One exception to these rules is Bruce, a character from Data East’s unreleased puzzle game, Ghostlop. Instead of a multicolor tile system, he employs a completely different playstyle that could be considered a combination of Puzzle Bobble and Arkanoid. Pulling and throwing spheres is replaced by a small ball that Bruce throws at "ghost spheres" falling from the top. The color of the ball can be turned red or blue anytime mid-flight, as ghosts can only be cleared by a ball of the same color; otherwise, the ball bounces off differently colored ghosts.


While Bruce has the ball in hand, he can’t move around, but can adjust the angle of ricochet along which the ball will be thrown; if you take too long aiming, a 5-second timer appears, at the end of which Bruce throws the ball himself along the path you have aimed at the moment.


Once the ball has been thrown, he can move left or right freely in order to catch the ball—which is also important, because every time the ball hits the floor, a new row of ghosts appear at the top.


While my first thought was to throw a ball of the same color directly at the ghost mass, I soon found it more fun to aim at a cluster of ghosts high above the current "skyline", effectively detaching and clearing the entire mass below. (I assume that’s where "lop" in the original title comes from.) The bigger the mass, the more Attacks it’s worth; on the other hand, trying to bide for a bigger mass to collect can lead to a loss from failing to catch the ball or not getting a good opportunity for a big clear, so there’s some risk and reward factor to be considered when playing Bruce.


Aside from a story mode, Magical Drop V also offers multiplayer game modes, in the form of Head-to-Head (1 VS 1), Team Battle (2 VS 2, each team sharing a screen) and King of the Hill (Free-for-all). These modes are available for both local multiplayer on the same computer for up to four people – assuming you can arrange extra control methods for all—as well as online multiplayer.


Lastly, I should perhaps mention a couple of… distractions I came across Magical Drop V. First is that the drawings are a bit inconsistent throughout the game. Pictures used for the character select screen are fine enough, but sprites used in cutscenes and battle backgrounds look somewhat untidy (particularly in how the hands and arms are drawn). The other is that the game has more than a fair share of spelling and punctuation errors, as well as font glitches here and there. But, on an optimistic note, none of those detracts from the core experience the game has to offer.


Food for thought:

1. Most, if not all, of the music are taken from previous games, possibly at a higher quality.


2. There’s a small graphic "hiccup" where the game has to load each individual layer onto screen after being minimized to Taskbar and restored. Things go back to normal after a few seconds, but I did come across an instance where the game hung up while loading, so keep this issue in mind until it’s patched.


3. There are a total of 13 characters in the game, 10 of which are available right off the start. (In comparison, Magical Drop III had 22 characters in total, representing all Arcanas.) Bruce’s friend and partner from Ghostlop, McCoy, is one of the unlockable characters.

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  • Oh god yes, I’m so getting this.
    I loved Magical Drop III and F was okay for what it was so this will surely prove to be fun.
    I don’t quite dig the new artstyle though, but that’s a minor nitpick in a *puzzle game*.
    Guess I’ll be playing this!

  • brian

    Not just once, but twice, and in a video game.

    • Kirbysuperstar2

      It makes me want to cut my wrists.

    • To be honest, I felt that the game had an unprofessional appearance. At least the single-player/local experience is pretty intact.

      • Testsubject909

        To date, to me, the very best Magical Drop is the one on the PS1. It’s only available in Japanese but you can get it off of PSN PS1 imports on the NA PSN store.

        • Is it on PSN JP? Not that it’s my first priority when it comes to PSN stores.

      • I played it the first day it came out and it had some pretty game breaking bugs. Getting an S rank would cause the end-level bonus to constantly crank and it would take a minute to go on to the next level. I ended up beating an Extra Stage with the Ghostlop peeps only for the game to freeze after I beat it.

        Not sure if it’s better much after a month or not.

  • Oh…guess you guys finally got the memo that’s it’s been out for a month now. The release was marred with horrific bugs and it doesn’t sound like the team in charge of development can speak of lick of English if you’ve seen their Twitter…

    • So I take it that the netcode is still hideously broken?

      • It was for at least the first two or three weeks after it released. That’s when I stopped caring about the game, unfortunately. Steam forums and their Twitter has word on the progress but considering that it’s not been great for progress since, I wouldn’t give it too much hope.

        I guess I could always give it another shot since it’s been a month since I bought and and since Dtoid subsequently rated it a 4 out of 10 or so they have improved on it supposedly…but I have a feeling the servers are going to be pretty lonely as it is.

    • My bad about the lateness. The piece actually wasn’t complicated to write. The lateness was mostly due to the fact that it was exam season for my schoolyear, and also that I had to redo the piece a bit. Ishaan was very patient with me there.

      • From the way things sounded, I don’t think anyone was really wanting to cover it. It’s like every site I’d been to on the subject of reporting it ‘already knew’.

  • Magical Drop V kinda makes me wish they’d look into more Steam puzzle game franchises. Meteos? Panel de Pon anyone? (… with the cutesy characters and more sprite-based artwork intact?? Planet Puzzle League makes me sad, aaaa.)

    • CirnoLakes

      I’d love Panel de Pon.

      Unfortunately, that’s a Nintendo game. Which means pretty much impossible unless Nintendo goes third party(which looking at the sales of the Wii U and 3DS…).

      Puyo Puyo by SEGA definitely looks possible, however. SEGA are a kind of hit or miss company in recent year, but they’re at least starting to give Steam a very very serious look and a good portion of their library has a very decent Steam port. Actually, they’ve been supporting the PC since the days of Sonic CD. But they’ve gotten a lot better at PC support in recent year.

      I, for one, would really like to see a decent Windows 7 port of the Puyo Puyo games for the PC via Steam. And best yet, I feel like it is actually possible.

      • I love Nintendo but man they need to either let a few of their more spreadable franchises like Panel de Pon get more leg room or at least actually use it. :( I want a real Panel de Pon game, not PPL!

        Puyo Puyo would be interesting though, that’s for sure. That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing hit Steam eventually, even if that’s a game I’m not entirely good at. XD (played Mean Bean Machine and just… I can never beat the second robot. ;;)

  • Hollowkoopa

    I heard that Death is insanely overpower, Is that true?

  • CirnoLakes

    It’s been out for a while.

    I bought it the first day it came out on Steam.

  • Unlike some, I still care about it.

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