Retro: VC Weekly #149

Welcome to VC Weekly, N-Europe's guide to the wonderful world of Nintendo's download service. Written by Sam C Gittins.

A couple of new titles have been added in what seems to be a break in the single game pattern that has continued for some time now. Anyway enough from me and on with the games!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Magical Drop II
  • Karnov's Revenge

Points: 900
Publisher: D4 Enterprise
Developer: Data East
Released: 1995
System: Neo Geo

Puzzle games have arguably been an essential addition to the industry ever since the mighty Tetris burst onto the mainstream scene on the original Gameboy some two decades ago. Ever since then we've had a myriad of puzzle titles revolving around falling blocks of all different shapes and sizes including a certain charming but lesser known series called Magical Drop and it's the first sequel that has now finally arrived for download.

Sharing more similarities with Puzzle Bobble than anything else Magical Drop II is a fast-paced, balloon bursting experience which challenges your jester-like character to catch and match these inflatable coloured spheres vertically in order to clear the screen of them. Chain reactions of course can be achieved in turn plus by using special items you can clear many at once if used at the right moment; things tend to get most hectic however when the speed gradually increases creating a frenetically paced and fun puzzle title like no other.

There are two modes 'Marathon' where you attempt to amass a high score before the balloons overrun the screen and VS mode where it's you against the CPU where the usual 'garbage' rule applies whereby any large amount of balloons cleared from your side creates more on the other. Both are decent but VS tends to be more entertaining due to the weird and 'wonderful' characters you end up facing-off against which lend themselves well to the bizarre theme of the game.

Controls are pretty simple and lend themselves well toward the game being easy to pick up but hard to put down as it has an astounding addictive quality that's the hallmark of many a decent puzzle title too. Attractive visuals and a catchy but often repeated main theme do add something to the experience but it's the gameplay that'll keep you coming back for more.

If you're a proper fan of puzzle titles then you're in for a treat here a Magical Drop II has a great deal to offer as it's so easy to get sucked into yet so difficult to stop playing once you get into it. Obviously there are slightly better puzzle games available but if you've tried everything else that's out there and you need a decent fix then there's really no reason not to get it.

Verdict : Awesome and addictive in equal measure.

Points: 900
Publisher: D4 Enterprise
Developer: Data East
Released: 1994
System: Neo Geo

During the nineties Street Fighter II was one of the most popular fighting games ever created and so inevitably it didn't take long for many clones to roll in but none in particular smack of being such a direct rip of as Karnov's Revenge. It features a rather basic fighting system which allows you to create basic combos using light and heavy punches, you can also block and use special attacks, but that's about it.

There is one main original element present however and that is the 'weak-point' which each character has which involves targeting a particular area of clothing, when this area is hit the item of clothing in question is removed and the character is left vulnerable to further attacks. It's an interesting addition but it leaves some fighters with more weaknesses than others creating an irritating imbalance which can hinder the flow of the game.

Unfortunately even though this title blatantly plagiarises nearly all of its ideas from SFII the actual execution is dire and leaves the game feeling like a banal button-basher as opposed to being a fantastic and fun fighter like it should be. The end result of its butchery though is something that feels like a sluggish and slapped together version of Street Fighter and one that has virtually none of the charm either.

Visually everything does still look at least decent and the characters look reasonable but none of it is really likeable and while there are some nice touches such as the day to night cycle nothing really reaches out and grabs you like many other decent fighters have done in the past. The music doesn't save it either as each track while perfectly reasonable in quality, doesn't go with the areas and add to that the poor voices for the characters, it's just another poor part of the game that leaves a bad after-taste in the mouth of the player.

Avoid basically... unless you absolutely must play every single fighting game available on the VC in which case go right ahead but otherwise there are far better fighters out there to spend your Nintendo points on and this quite frankly is just a complete waste of them, not to mention your time as well.

Verdict : A catastrophically crap clone of Street Fighter with none of the charm.

That's it for another installment of VC Weekly which will return again soon. So until then, enjoy the rest of the week and Game On!

Sam Gittins
[email protected]

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