Since its first release in 1995, the Magical Drop series has earned a spot with many puzzle fans for its fast-paced action, intense pattern recognition and quirky Japanese charm. Magical Drop V is an attempt by Golgoth Studio to revive the series and bring the game to the new gen consoles. Does Magical Drop V succeed in bringing some old magic to a new generation of gamers or is the only thing it’s dropping is the ball?
Puzzle Me This
The story and the gameplay are relatively simple. The Magical Drop is a powerful relic that grants its holder their wish once every ten years. To see who gets to make their wish, the kingdom has a tournament where players must battle each other by clearing their grid of marble-like balls by aligning 3 colored balls together causing them to pop. The game contains a single player mode as well as three multiplayer modes which can be played locally or online, including Head to Head, Team Battle, and King of the Hill. While the different modes do slightly change how the game is played, the same gameplay mechanic is used for all.
The simple gameplay makes this game easy to pickup and learn. There are several characters to choose from. Each character has their own unique Magical Drop Attack, where achieving chain reactions (popping several different lines in rapid succession) causes more lines to drop on your opponent’s grid. The higher your combo score, the more lines that will be dropped on an opponent in the pattern that is unique to your character. While this may seem like it would provide some form of strategy, it was very clear facing the AI that only a few patterns were truly effective while majority of them were not. It is very hard to say there is any strategy to this game at all other than trying to find the quickest chains and getting the highest combos. This wouldn’t necessarily be bad if it wasn’t for the fact that both the AI and the grading mechanic are inconsistent and seem to be all over the place.
The only difference between Easy mode and Hard mode seems to be the number of levels you face. Any match can be incredibly tough or incredibly easy no matter what difficulty you’re playing, and this creates a constant feel of imbalance. Your opponent may get four or five special magic spells (special attacks activated when popping a special colored ball) in a row to launch at you while you may never get a special magic spell at all the whole match. Because of this imbalance, it’s easy to find yourself losing a match in less than 10 seconds after the start of a game. In addition, the scoring seems to be just as sporadic. I often would get an A+ grade losing a match but only get a D winning one and having a higher score. Perhaps the game was telling me I lost gracefully. Either way, this feel of complete randomness is rather frustrating and makes it difficult to enjoy the game.
Not So Magical Bugs
Magical Drop V is unfortunately riddled with bugs and errors. Some of these are comical and add a sense of personality to the game, such as awkward dialogue between characters caused from loose translations or a bug that caused the game to change the language to Japanese (creating a mini-game on finding the “Settings” option). However, the majority of the bugs encountered were not so comical. The game crashed several times at random points for no apparent reason in both single player and multiplayer mode. In multiplayer, I also experienced frame rate drops as well as freezing screens. These bugs make the game difficult to play.
At its heart, Magical Drop V has a fun and addicting puzzle mechanic, but the constant imbalance and number of bugs makes it very hard to fully enjoy. At its current price of $10 on Steam, Magical Drop V may be a little over priced for the limited content and amount of problems encountered, but at a lower price, and if you’re able to look past the games issues, Magical Drop V might offer you some simple and fun puzzle arcade action.
*A review copy for Magical Drop V was provided by TriplePoint.