To be honest, this is probably one of the few games I’ll review for the NGPC that does have a background on the NeoGeo MVS system that I haven’t played before taking a crack at its portable equivalent. Seriously, I’ve never played any of the arcade versions of MD, period, though I have played Money Puzzle Exchanger, which brought about a company’s demise due to being a MD rip-off. Magical Drop Pocket’s a fun game, but even if it is an indicator of the arcade versions, it’ll never take MPE’s place…in my heart.
Just judging by the game’s characters, I’d say this one is loosely based on the third Magical Drop game, though there are a few missing characters. Oh well, no matter. Basically, the basis of the game is that various people are searching for the Magical Drop, an item that grants its owner their fondest desire. Currently, an evil witch by the name of Fortune holds the item, but there are many others who will stop at nothing to obtain it. Each have their own aspirations and will stop at nothing to make their dreams come true, but who will end up facing off against Fortune?
Basically, this game is somewhat akin to another puzzle game found on the NeoGeo MVS, Bust-A-Move, but only in the sense that the pieces move from the top of the screen to the bottom. Basically, in order to eliminate pieces, three or more pieces of the same color must be lined up vertically. Of course, any pieces of the same color that are adjacent to the line are also eliminated. How does one accomplish this, you ask? Basically, all of the game pieces simply descend from the top of the playing field and players can grab pieces one (or more, depending on the circumstances) at a time. However, once players grab one piece, they are only able to grab more pieces of the same color. Also, if one were to grab a piece that is lined up vertically with another piece of the same color, both pieces would be grabbed simultaneously. Needless to say, it’s a recipe for a good puzzle game.
Of course, there is one major difference in MD Pocket, when compared to the other games in the series. While most of theMagical Drops are played out in a standard competition setting, between a player and either a computer opponent or another human opponent, MDP takes a different route. Sure, there is still something of a competitive spark in the game, but it’s more of a race: the goal under the default options is be the first to destroy 250 pieces. Of course, this limit can be shut off, in which case there’s a secondary option for victory: a bar that represents the opponent’s status. The amount of yellow on the bar represents how much of the opponent’s field has been filled, and when it reaches the top, the game is over.
There are three game modes in all: Story, Self Challenge and Friend Challenge. Story mode is exactly what it sounds like: a story-based scenario mode where players duke it out against many an opponent. There are five difficulties in all: Super Easy, Easy, Medium, Hard and Super Hard. Of course, only the last three modes afford players a full game, and out of those, only the two Hard modes unlock secret characters upon completion. Next is Self Challenge, which is basically an Endless mode, where players are given a rank, which is based on their skill rather than how they progress through the various skill levels. Finally, there’s Friend Challenge, which is the Versus mode.
To be honest, after trying the NGP version, I decided to try my hand at another version of the game, namely the game’s basis: Magical Drop 3. While it would be wrong to make deep comparisons between the two, there is one thing that I’ve taken away from it: it should have had a split-screen VS CPU mode, just like that Game Boy version of Money Idol Exchanger should have had. In this case, the lack of an actual versus mode seems even sillier, especially considering how large the playing field is, especially compared to other puzzle games on the Neo Geo Pocket. I mean, both Bust-A-Move Pocket and Puyo Pop had smaller playing fields and…split-screen versus modes. So why not Magical Drop Pocket? Seriously, that gauge system bugs the hell out of me.
The graphics are a little hard to rate, actually. On one hand, this game suffers from the blank screen epidemic; in fact the majority of the playing field looks off. I know the jester thing acts as the pointer in all of the MD games, but it looks kind of strange here. The sheer size of the playing field is a little disturbing as well. On the other hand, everything else looks pretty good, especially the little scenes in Story mode.
To be honest, the sound in this game is probably my favorite aspect. Most of the songs are actually pretty good, each theme fitting with its corresponding character. There are a few forgettable songs – namely the Fool’s theme and the Self-Challenge theme – but they don’t really detract from the good soundtrack. Better yet, the NGPC’s sound card churns out a decent arrangement of these songs. Sound effects are a little bland, but I think that’s forgivable.
As for replay, well, there’s actually quite a bit. There are the three game modes, each offering their own variation on the gameplay, not to mention the multiple difficulty levels, which add up to a lot of game time. Of course, the main draw for replay in any puzzle game would be the fun factor itself, and while MD definitely doesn’t lack in this area, I’d have to say that two other puzzle games for the NGPC outclass it big-time: Puyo Pop and BAM Pocket.
-Originally Posted by Wolfdogg