Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

It Came From Japan! Magical Pop'n

4:00 PM on 09.06.2012 // Allistair Pinsof
  @DtoidAllistair

[It Came from Japan! is a series where I seek out and review the weirdest, most original and enjoyable titles that never left the Land of the Rising Sun.]

Magical Pop’n is the reason I do this series. I mean this figuratively and literally. It’s the rare, coveted import that lives up to the hype, if not the ridiculously high eBay listing price. Make no mistake: If the game had made it to the West in the mid-’90s, Magical Pop’n would frequently be mentioned as one of the best action-platformers of its era.

Through the information well of the Internet and magic of emulation, we can now discover for ourselves this gem. You don’t have a good excuse not to. Now sit down and put that controller in your hand and get ready for 16-bit platforming bliss.


Magical Pop’n (Super Famicom)
Developer: Polestar
Released: March 10, 1995
Current value: $180 - 250

Fan translation: Yes
For fans of: Castlevania, Super Mario World, Metroid

The biggest question that rings in my head when playing a game as polished, unique, and downright fun as Magical Pop’n is "Why did it never make it to the States?" Call it pure speculation, but I’ll call it sensible reasoning: My feeling is that a game starring a female lead was about as popular with game publishers as the Super Nintendo in 1996. However, it’s these two things that partly make the game such a charming, good time. 16-bit fetishists will eat up the colorful landscapes of Magical Pop’n and the dwarfed princess is the perfect tour guide through it all.


Metroidvania-lite

If Super Metroid were an arcade game, it’d resemble Magical Pop’n. Like Metroid, you’ll frequently find yourself blocked from a certain path in each of the game’s six stages. The only way through the path is by finding a new ability and applying it to the obstacle. You’ll also encounter enemies and bosses with weaknesses that beg the player to use the recently acquired ability. The game doesn't limit your options in a boss fight like Zelda, however.

You don’t have a map and aren't likely get lost, but the game has multiple paths, hidden areas, and even hearts you can collect that will permanently increase your health. If you like the progression system of Metroid but want less backtracking, Magical Pop’n may appeal to you.


Princess = Sorceress

Continuing on the Metroid comparison, you’ll find yourself constantly rolling back to previous abilities you unlocked throughout the game. Not only is it quick and easy to change your ability, but each of the six spells is unique and serves a purpose.

These abilities range from the starting laser projectile to a Bionic Commando-like grappling hook. As you visit the sky palaces, woodlands, and other levels, you’ll acquire fire, ice, bombs, and even a Sonic-esque spin attack. Each ability costs a certain amount of stars, which you’ll collect throughout levels. You can hold up to 99 and will rarely run low. Each ability has a secondary attack that costs 10 stars that will make bosses easier but the following areas harder if you have exhausted your resources.

In addition to providing the game with some nice visuals, these abilities alter the way your approach the environment and bosses. Since the weapons are diverse, you’ll find there are multiple ways to defeat enemies. It gives the game depth and replayability.


A colorful world

I absolutely adore the way Magical Pop’n looks. It has that bright, chunky anime look that Magical Taruruuto-Kun and Kid Dracula share. The backgrounds lack detail, but there is plenty of character in enemy and player animations. The bosses are especially memorable with some really quirky damage reactions and attacks.

To some, Magical Pop’n may look like a PC Engine game, but I love it for that. The colorful anime-inspired look is something that you didn’t often see on the Super Famicom. Magical Pop’n makes me wonder why.


Tight controls

Right next to Super Mario World and Super Castlevania IV, Magical Pop’n is the best-feeling platformer on the system. What’s even more impressive is that it’s faster and more fluid than both.

The princess has a lot of moves at her disposal, from a slide to a Zelda II-esque downward strike. Going from one to the other and moving around is always smooth. SNES games are typically slower than Genesis games because of the CPU, but Magical Pop’n somehow manages to be as fast and fluid as Sega’s best.


Save the princess

In the teen boy-dominated market of the ‘90s, few kids wanted to play as a cute princess with a wand. Give the game a chance, though -- you may find the main character endearing. Along with some great animation and character detail, developer Polestar was very progressive in designing her.

In addition to hiring popular anime artist Takami Akai to do the box art, Polestar got softcore pornstar-turned-Japanese-idol (oh, Japan) Ai Iijima to do the voice work. Unlike other SNES games, the groans and brief audio clips sound pretty good and never got on my nerves. The princess is so fully realized in the 16-bit world that I could easily see her making the transition to an anime series or manga. Unfortunately, this would be the last time we saw the character.


Pop it and lock it

There are a couple Japan-only platformers that been put on a pedestal by import seekers over the years. This season of It Came From Japan will cover a couple of them, but I’ll be shocked if any of them impress me more than Magical Pop’n. The game isn’t very long or mind-blowingly unique, but it stands up with some of the best games of the Super Nintendo. Great boss fights, reasonable difficulty curve, fun abilities, and fluid controls; the game really has it all. This is the reason I love to write these articles. Every now and then, I stumble upon a game that could have defined my childhood if I had played it in the ‘90s. This is one of those times.

Were you strongly averse to playing characters of the opposite gender as a kid?

Did you ever read about Magical Pop'n in the international sections of old gaming magazines?

What's up with evil penguins in Japanese games?



Allistair Pinsof,
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidAllistair

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.





 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Niwannabe avatarNiwannabe
All right, you guys, time for the important questions. Fuck, Marry, Kill: Tharja, Sully and Sumia?
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
The time has come for me to play Earthbound.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
As the Ultimate Waifu gazed down upon the Earth from her Celestial Throne, she sighed, for mainly shit-tier waifus were being chosen. But one fairy gazed into the stars, declaring her love, sacrificing dreams and spiders on an alter of glitter for her.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
When a new Destiny article comes out
Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Thanks to my girlfriend, we own a PS4 now. ID is Ikaruszino. I don't own any multiplayer games (yet) or have PS Plus (yet :p), but feel free to add me so in the future maybe we can play something.
Bardley avatarBardley
My absolute finest moment in all of Metal Gear. Also, the first time I had driven a truck.
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
Ok. That EDF 4.1 game is really really good. You can even sing and shout "EDF!" with your soldiers! Holy crackers.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I want to goad my wife into playing RE Revelations 2 with me but I don't know if she can deal with the whole 3D spatial movement thing, even if she plays the supporting character.
Lawman avatarLawman
Heads-up: Mega Man soundtracks are free right now at the Capcom Store. Guessing it's a glitch. All of them are digital downloads, except for Mega Man 9, which is a physical CD that requires money for shipping. Link in comments.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
My Brawl in the Family books finally came! It took a while but Matthew (guy who made the series) has been super busy so I totally understand. =D
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
Here's what a typical dinner with me looks like: Stouffer's chicken parmesan, Lay's potato chips, and a cold can of Mountain Dew, all eaten on a cold set of tiles. That's right, ladies, THIS is what you'd be missing out on. Eat your heart out, @SayWord.
thelivinglegend avatarthelivinglegend
Not digging the difficulty of Xcom 2 so far. I always thought the first one was tough but fair, but this seems that at times it won't matter what strategy you use, you'll end up losing and having to restart. Seems more trial and error than tactical.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
How's everyone finding XCOM 2? My first campaign isn't going well, half a dozen deaths so far and a sea of hospitalised vets in the roster :(
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just tried the SFV kiosk demo. Impressions: Charlie is weird now. Chun Li now down-to-forwards her signature kick. Ryu, Ryu never changes. How to V-Trigger? Hah, Capcom does not explain such things! Needs more Rathalos and Feylines.
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
For anyone wondering: Digimon Cyber Sleuth is pretty good. A bit easy, so play on hard mode for challenge, but it's like playing Final Fantasy 10, but with Digimon. You can even get Black Wargreymon if you buy it this month. Clearly, the best Digimon.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I bought Bloodborne and $30 in PSN moolah to top off my Playstation shopping spree.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
I just made a thing of beauty.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Nordic just saved a bunch of games from being delisted. Some pretty good ones! [url]http://www.nordicgames.at/index.php/article/galactic_ip_rescue_operation_aka_new_franchises_acquired[/url]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Weird brutal death metal song about Majora's Mask (Reminds me of Gorguts)! My life is complete! Lyrics in comments. https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/track/tales-of-the-majora-mythos-part-1
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
I SWEAR the Goddess is trolling me. I HATE having dreams where everything's finally okay with my life, only to wake up and realize it's all been a delusional lie. I'm starting to think this is a sign that maybe I should just keep sleeping forever... T^T
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -