Review: Magical Drop F (PlayStation Network)

I bitched and bitched. I talked to everyone and no one.  I’d sometimes just talk to myself, mumbling quietly about how Japanese puzzle game Magical Drop wasn’t available on my game systems. Yes, I have import versions (my favorite being the Sega Saturn version), but I dreamed of booting up one of my current gen systems and playing with visitors, or taking it along with me to play on the go, on a portable. No one cared until now.

My dreams have come true with the release of Magical Drop F on the PlayStation Network. Now puzzle-y goodness is there at my fingertips, whenever I need it. I can recommend this $5.99 title to any puzzle fan, but there are some things you need to know first.

I bitched and bitched. I talked to everyone and no one.  I’d sometimes just talk to myself, mumbling quietly about how Japanese puzzle game Magical Drop wasn’t available on my game systems. Yes, I have import versions (my favorite being the Sega Saturn version), but I dreamed of booting up one of my current gen systems and playing with visitors, or taking it along with me to play on the go, on a portable. No one cared until now.

My dreams have come true with the release of Magical Drop F on the PlayStation Network. Now puzzle-y goodness is there at my fingertips, whenever I need it. I can recommend this $5.99 title to any puzzle fan, but there are some things you need to know first.

{{page_break}}

Magical Drop F (PlayStation Network)
Developer: Data East
Publisher: MonkeyPaw Games
Price: $5.99

MonkeyPaw brings these virtual imports over without translating the text. For most of their releases up to this point the language barrier is not an issue, but I could see how someone not versed in Japanese would get lost in the menus of this title. Beyond that, the game’s main attraction, the adventure game, will be totally inaccessible for non-Japanese speakers. Don’t let that stop you, though. There’s still plenty of that classic Magical Drop action packed inside this download. Besides, MonkeyPaw has a web translation of menus and key game aspects.

Last week I felt a very familiar feeling, one that I hadn’t felt in awhile. It was the not-blinking eye burns, which is felt when I’m in deep concentration playing 2-player matches in Magical Drop. My eyes were brilliant red with dryness in this marathon session, but it hurt so good. This version of the match-three puzzler changes things up a bit from previous games. The basics are the same: you pick up any number of same-colored gems from a game board, move left or right, and then drop them to make three in a row, clearing them. In this outing you’ll actually pick power-ups prior to battle, letting you do some kind of preventative planning going in. Another slight difference is the character art. They still have the sexy, busty Tarot girls, but they’re more serious looking this time around, and maybe a tad bit less anime-ish. Otherwise, it’s the same frantic puzzler that importers have been bragging about for years. 

Is it worth your $6 for the single and 2-player puzzle bouts? Certainly. This is one of those puzzle games you’ll keep coming back to. I’ve hooked so many newcomers to this game in the past, and now I’m happy to tell them that they can have a copy for themselves, and no longer need to come to my house to play. 

If you’re not that good with Japanese but are feeling adventurous, check out the main story. It plays like a little role-playing game, and has lovely art. The “battles” are played out on a Magical Drop game board instead of some silly turn-based affair. It’s not near as fancy or complex as the fantastic and flash animated opening movie would lead you to believe, but it is cute and worth checking out.  You don’t see puzzle game RPGs every day, right?

Magical Drop F is a game that I know many have been waiting for in the western world. Well, waiting for or importing. For it to finally debut here at $5.99 seems like something that’s too good to be true. The ability to play it on both PS3 and PSP for one price is even better.  Hats off to MonkeyPaw Games for finally making this classic available to everyone. While it may not be the most accessible game at first glance, it’s easy to get into and really rewarding to stick with. Things get even better as you learn more about game strategy and begin to feel more competitive. Download it. Love it. Share it with with a friend.

8.5 — Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won’t astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)

Dale North