Hola amigos! We have another saucy article for ya! We're finally covering the great Magical Drop series and we're starting with the first two Super Famicom games! YAY! If you've read the first article, you'll know that I didn't like the game very much. While Magical Drop or "Chain Reaction" was moderately successful, Data East knew that they really had to refine the formula. They had a good concept; it just needed to be pushed in the right direction. Apparently, they knew exactly what was wrong with the original game and fixed almost everything that could be deemed a major concern from the original game. In only a few short months, Magical Drop 2 was born, and it's the game that I personally feel really kicked off the Magical Drop series and put it on the map. It's greatness and appeal is almost leaps and bounds over its prequel. What makes this game so great?
Amazingly enough, the story has been expanded. There's an actual opening intro, a lot more dialogue, conversational bits between rounds and even a sentence or two for every character's ending. The World, who was the mighty final boss from the first game, is now a normal playable character, which makes sense because there is a new and powerful adversary in this game. One of the mightier Tarots in a deck, "The Empress", is not her caring self. She has mysteriously become a cold and shadowy temptress and it's up to the other Tarots to put her voluptuous behind in check. Throughout mythology and theology, The Empress has always been a pretty powerful character metaphorically speaking, but her powers are heightened in this game through her other self. The story isn't anything special, but the cutscenes are funny and the characters are cute.
The visuals in this game have been vastly improved. The opening intro illustrates nicely detailed anime style characters and beautiful animations and amazingly enough, matches up pretty well with the other ports, which is incredible in and of itself. The special effects are cleaner, the characters have more animations, and their backgrounds aren't static like in the original. The characters animate beautifully and can do cool gestures, especially the female characters. The Empress and The World probably have the most impressive character animations out of everyone. The audio has also been revamped a little. The few tunes from the original are here, but each character now has their own tune and some of them are pretty nice like The Magician and The Star. The original game only had one tune until you reached the final boss. The character voices and the annoying sound effects are mostly intact, but they are a lot more tolerable thanks to the new musical score. Truth be told, I think a lot of puzzle games have many really annoying sounds, so I don't give it too much thought.
Anyhow, the gameplay has been tweaked substantially. The game has added four new characters to the roster: The Empress, The Justice, The Strength, and the extra special "B.Pierrot". If you're skilled enough, you'll face The B.Pierrot after defeating The Empress, so he is technically the true final boss. I don't really include him since you don't have to fight him and he won't change your ending, but he's pretty cool nonetheless. In addition to the new characters, one sweet element is that you can actually SEE what item power characters have ahead of time due to this game's awesome new presentation. Not only that, you can see each characters' "stack power", which influences how the stack will descend depending on the character. The Fool even has a basic red drop-destroying power now so he won't be completely and unfairly manhandled and woman-handled by everyone else. Magical Drop 2 also removed the need to pair three special blocks together, instead just making you pair one with two drops of its color, which is much more convenient. This game also adjusted the AI of the opponents. While the characters are still unbalanced, it's a lot more balanced than it originally was.
This game also incorporated a bevy of other features. One such feature is the refined high score or "endless" mode. You don't just bust objects by yourself, you bust them across a wider playfield and there are a few twists such as special arrow objects you can bust to give you an extra special edge and doorways that you can walk through to instantly jump from one end of the screen to the next. You'll even be graded on your performance and schooled by other characters that give you tips on how to improve your abilities...or just laugh at you if you suck. The puzzle mode is here, but with a fresh coat of paint...I'd rather call it the mission mode. Your objective is to get a perfect score of 100W. You have an unlimited amount of turns, but solving the missions perfectly is the only way to get a significant "W" boost. This game takes its fast and frantic gameplay to the next level by not only pushing these requirements, but timing you too! Can you clear all 32 levels and get a perfect score? I know I could if I actually cared to do it.
This game even tweaked the only good part about the original game, the versus mode, or "Taisen Mode". Besides holding normal matches, you can fight each other in Time Attack Mode, fight each other in an adjusted Battle Mode (where attacks can be stronger or weaker than average...you can even stop attacks) or battle each other with different handicaps. There's one other special addition to the versus mode too...you can mix and match characters!! Suppose you like The Fool but want him to be almighty like The Empress or The B.Pierrot but want him to have the stack-fighting power of The Star. Well, you can! Just mix and match your character and then select him in the versus roster. The character will be located off-screen, indicated by an arrow pointing to the left for Player 1 or the right for Player 2. Have fun folks, because that is awesome. I wish I could take Dan from Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo and give him the attack pattern of Akuma! That would be cool and hilarious!
The last major addition to this game helps to thin the gap a little between novices and pros. The game has incorporated more than one method to winning a battle. Besides having your screen become filled with loads of drops, you have what's known as your "quota" requirement. The way it works is each character starts of with the same quota, which in the case of this game is the number of drops that need to be destroyed. If you can eliminate the specified amount before your opponent, you can defeat them in an even more humiliating way! This is good for people who are fast but who aren't necessarily good at creating chain combos and makes the gameplay faster than ever before. You may need it at times too...the bosses like The Strength, The Empress, and The B.Pierrot can become quite a handful if you don't take care of them quickly. The final thing I should probably note about this game is that it removed the feature to change the way the objects looked. It wasn't important, but it was still cool. I think the reason is simply so you caused destruction primarily with the drops, which is fine anyway.
Magical Drop 2 is MUCH better than the original game. It's actually a little hard to believe that a game can improve so much so quickly, but if you didn't like the first Magical Drop, let this one make a believer out of you. The game is a blast to play against a friend, is fun to play alone, and this game can spawn some of the most bitter rivalries imaginable. The only problem I can think of is the whole damage-to-chain ratio, which is still a bit much. I think it would have been better if they just dropped junk objects on your opponent, but hey, that's just me. Buy this game if you can find it for a reasonable price; it's one of the best puzzle games on this system.
- Written by Bel Cain The Eternal -