Retro: VC Weekly #154

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

If you're a fan of puzzle titles then you'd be well advised to check out this latest release. Anyway enough from me and on with the game!

Available for download this week we have...

  • Magical Drop III

Points: 900
Publisher: D4 Enterprise
Developer: Data East
Released: 1997
System: Neo-Geo

Even though Magical Drop II was only recently released on the Virtual Console giving gamers a decent taste of what the series is about, the third instalment is now available for download. If you loved the second title then you're going to absolutely adore the third because it basically takes everything that's great about the series and refines it even further creating a title that can quite easily be considered the true zenith of the series; if you want to know just why it's so good then allow me to explain.

Conceptually the gameplay can be likened to Puzzle Bobble except here there is a greater feeling of control as you move your clown left and right at the bottom of the screen grabbing balloons with the 'b' button and throwing them above you by pressing 'a' hopefully vertically plus adjacently matching three or more of the same colour which will result in their dispersal. You can grab many balloons at a time too often resulting in huge combos plus even though the screen moves things down gradually you can opt to move it down a level yourself by pressing the 'y' button which can be useful if you need more of a specific colour fast.

Three modes are available to you including Challenge Mode where you'll likely spend most of your time as you choose a character from one of sixteen and then face off against the rest of them � and yourself of course � assuming you're on Normal difficulty of course because Easy just serves as a light introduction but contains some useful tips. When playing Survival Mode you're in a continuous game which will end when the balloons overrun your screen; perhaps most interesting though is the inclusion of Magical Journey where you complete rounds as normal but after each of them you move spaces around a board in an attempt to make it to the end, it's quite enjoyable and fairly original for a puzzle game.

Fully-featured though this game may be in single player you'll most likely want to experience the game in two player mode because it really comes to life in an entirely different way when you're battling against someone you know as opposed to CPU opponents. Regardless of how you decide to play though the game looks visually stunning featuring some truly beautiful backdrops, cute characters and some astonishing animation all brought to life thanks to the aural accompaniments which are nothing short of amazing with each track literally oozing charm plus sound effects which are only ever complementary, never bordering on being annoying which some puzzle titles fall victim to.

If you only experience one game in the Magical Drop series then please make it this one as it really does not get much better than this as it's easily the best puzzle game available for the Neo-Geo and even rivals other popular puzzlers such as the mighty Puyo Pop which may sound like a bold claim but believe me, it's one that it lives up to. For fans of the genre this is literally heavenly and I can recommend this title regardless of whether you've played any previous games in the series or not as make no mistake that this is as good as it gets.

Verdict : One of the most mesmerising and magical puzzle titles ever made.

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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