PSOne Import Review: Magical Drop F
Puzzle games and arcades. Two things that Japan gets and gets well. But games that work well in Japan don’t necessarily do well when released outside of their native territory. Does Magical Drop F‘s competitive puzzle charm transcend the language barrier?
Monkey Paw Games is back and they’ve brought with them Data East’s famed PlayStation entry in the Magical Drop franchise, Magical Drop F. Originally just for arcades, F is the series’ first, and unfortunately last, entry on a console. But leaving the arcades and coming into the home does bring some nuances that wouldn’t have worked well in the wild, like an expanded single-player mode. That’s right, an RPG mode in a puzzle game.
Magical Drop F‘s gameplay is reminiscent of Bust a Move and has had a huge influence on current favorites like Critter Crunch. Shooting from the bottom to the top of the screen, players have to match groups of colors and create unbelievable stacking combos to rack up more points against the opponent. It’s pure competitive puzzling at it’s finest. Fast-paced and frantic gameplay that will have you on the edge of your seat. At the beginning of each match, three special weapons can be chosen and activated at will that can change the entire outcome of the match. There are too many weapons to describe here and it wouldn’t be possible anyway – too much Japanese.
Speaking of being in Japanese, you really should make a point to read Monkey Paw’s site for the game, as it essentially acts as the manual. The controls are simple enough so it is possible to figure out the game without any help, but the finer nuances of the game will elude you. While there is plenty of depth to the puzzle mechanics, you won’t use any of them without knowing they exist. Without any special items and strictly going for the color-matching, it’s possible to do well at the game. The tricky moves only matter if you are playing with a human opponent, as the computer opponents aren’t too difficult.
The RPG mode has a simple story. There are seven magical drops that have been scattered throughout the land and it is your job to get them back. That’s about it. The heavy Japanese dialogue though means that if you can’t read Japanese, you won’t really get much out of this mode at all. Sometimes you may not even know how to advance to the next party of the story. You’ll most likely end up going through every section of the world map talking to every character multiple times and hoping that something happens. Why? Because sometimes that’s really all you can do.
Magical Drop F is an incredibly beautiful game, considering it came out eleven years ago on the original PlayStation. Sure, it may not look at beautiful as Valkyria Chronicles, but like Suikoden before it, Magical Drop uses a very distinct animé art style that plays to the strength of the PlayStation with large designs and bright colors. It may be old, but this is a game that still looks well with age.
Magical Drop F is proof-positive that even if you can’t read anything in the game’s language, it can still be a blast to play. While the Japanese-reading audience will obviously get more out of the game, the additive puzzle mechanics are enough to keep you wanting more. If you are a fan of puzzle games, Magical Drop F deserves to be the first PSOne Import that you pick up.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
+ Beautiful even for a PS one Title
- Text-Heavy RPG Mode Leaves Some Players Wanting More