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Review: Magical Drop V
Magical Drop V is a PC puzzle game from Golgoth Studio featuring bubble pop game play. But it’s not your traditional bubble popper like you may find on a mobile device. There’s speed and competition involved, even in solo play.
I found this interesting because the bubble pop games seemed–to me–more set for either mobile devices or browsers. I didn’t believe it could translate into something like a Steam game, even in the indie market. However, Magical Drop V has proved that it is possible. (As a note: I have not played the previous MD games.)
Now, this is definitely not a game for everyone. While the visuals are brightly colored and nicely contrasted, it is done in a Japanese anime style (which makes sense due to earlier Magical Drop puzzle games being intended for Japan and later released in NA). The characters are interesting, and, as images show, more in an Eastern design.
When you start the game, choosing Story puts you into your solo play. It almost feels like a game from the fighter genre, as you have 10 characters to choose from and follow their “story.” After picking one you’ll be given the option to choose from a set of cards. This will determine your first opponent. The way this game works is a little different than the traditional bubble popper you may have played elsewhere.
Each player (you and the PC) gets a bar numbered at 200. As you clear your play area that number will decrease and the bar will fill based the points you gain for each move. The goal is to reach 0 before your opponent. Larger chains give you more points and raise the bar faster. Of course, the other alternative is to fill your opponent’s playing area. This can be achieved more by something like ‘power-ups’ in the form of special power balls that randomly come into play.
There are several types of play that come up in game, but I’ll go over the most common here. Unlike similar puzzle games, instead of being provided with a ball with a randomly generated color, you actually grab from the pieces on your screen and throw them back into play to make chains of 3 or more. You can pick up more than 1 ball at a time, allowing you to essentially clear large portions of the screen in one go. Of course like any good bubble pop game, clearing one chain and having another connect as a result gives you combos and extra points.
That’s one thing I quite like about it. Instead of being based on what you are randomly given, it’s more about how quickly you can move around the screen and how fast you process which colors are where.
Something that works for the game, but is also a little annoying is the complete use of the keyboard. There is no mouse in the game, even for navigating menus. While not a serious problem it does take some getting used to. And every time I open the game I have to recheck what the controls are otherwise I attempt to use my mouse or traditional WASD ones. So keep that in mind if you try it. The controls will seem a little whacky but just take getting used to I think.
Other types of play that appear in story mode are similar in nature that your target is to clear the screen. You still have your bar with a 200 score quota to meet and you’ll still have means to disrupt the other player. I don’t want to go into too much detail because it’s just an interesting change in play when you reach it. You can get a quick glance at it to the right.
So each of the 10 characters has their own little story, all of which are connected to the main story the game provides about the Magical Drop.
Magical Drop V also features some PvP in the form of a local match or going online. Both offer similar game play, along with ranking systems. The modes are: ranked, endless, team, and king of the hill. Ranked gives you battle points and helps with your online rank (no really?), endless is just silliness, team is kind of obvious, and king of the hill is something like a 4 player tournament.
Due to it being an indie title and very much for a niche market, don’t plan for much online play unless you have some friends lined up for it.
Well done visuals and mechanics
No need to be familiar with other MD games
Different from a traditional bubble pop puzzle game
Odd controls on a PC with only the keyboard
Very small online community
A little pricy for people just wanting to try something new
The Final Word
Magical Drop V is an interesting puzzle game that seems straight out of Japan. While fun to play, there isn’t much you’ll get from the online features. Listed on Steam at $9.99—unless you are someone familiar with the series or a Japanese cult classic sort of follower—you can probably let this one skip on by you. While amusing, there isn’t that great of variation between the characters in story mode. I’m just not sure there’ s a lot of replay value; if I have free time I’m more likely to spend it on a different game. But have a little extra money to spend and want to try something that is well made and different? Then consider giving it a try.