Game Review: Magical Drop F
Release: October 5, 2010
Developer: Data East
Available Platforms: PS3, PSN
MSRP: $5.99 (PlayStation Plus Price $3.00)
ESRB Rating: Everyone (Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief)
Website: Magical Drop F
If you’re into puzzle games, you probably know about the Magical Drop series, as they deliver fast-paced, frantic and engaging gameplay, mixed with some pretty anime characters and a bunch of options to choose from. The problem, however, is that you’ll need to know a fair amount of Japanese to enjoy the most innovative aspects of this 10 year old game.
Magical Drop F was the last of the series, first released on 1999 for the PSOne, and it brought a couple of nice innovations to the puzzle genre, in addition to the usual VS. CPU and VS. Human modes. The gameplay keeps being as frantic as usual; you still have to match three or more drops of the same color to eliminate them, thus preventing the opposing character to fill your screen with colorful orbs. Now, however, the game has been simplified by removing the power-up drops, putting them instead in the middle of the screen, where you can see them lined up, and use them with the triangle button. This takes a significant relevance in the Story Mode, which is the main innovation Magical Drop F has to offer, as it forces you to choose your power-ups before battle, adding a tactical layer to the overall experience .
Story Mode plays out quite similarly to a typical JRPG, revolving around gathering drops of different colors to prevent the end of the world; exploring various locales and talking to a good number of people while doing so. Except here, battles are fought as Magical Dropbattles. In theory, it’s an interesting approach to a puzzle game (similar to nowadays titles like Puzzle Quest) but the interface is extremely slow and outdated, and the huge amount of text available makes it a less than ideal experience. This is especially annoying when you realize the WHOLE game is in Japanese, with no option at all to change the language.
I know this is a puzzle game, and a very simple and user-friendly one. But when the biggest selling point is a mode reminiscent to text-heavy’s RPGs, having a Japanese only interface results in an incredibly boring and senseless adventure. You see, when you’re not able to tell what the story is about, the characters, albeit charismatic, will become nothing else than pretty drawings of semi-naked girls, and the plot, as interesting as it may be, will become just a collage of shapes and colors running around your TV with no reason at all. And don’t get me started on the fact you’ll not be able to save. That’s right, if you want to beat the story, you’ll have to do it in one sitting.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a fast-paced, addictive puzzle game that you can play against a friend (or the computer), Magical Drop F is a definite must buy, and an instant classic. If, on the other hand, you want to enjoy the Story, you’ll want to take a couple of Japanese classes before. Otherwise, you’re in for a disappointment.