Truth be told, prior to this, I had never heard of Magical Drop, let alone four other entries in the series. Of course, that didn’t stop me from giving the game a shot. I do love some puzzle games, and puzzle fighter has always been a favorite of mine. So, when I sat down with Magical Drop V, I’m in familiar territory. That was, until I actually begin to play it.
Magical Drop V is a match three puzzle game where you control a jester that picks up orbs and launches them depending on where you aim. The goal is to match same colored orbs in a row to clear them out of your board. Lines of orbs will begin to fall, and you must clear out lines before they reach the bottom. You are also going against another player that is doing the same thing. In order to win, you must clear out a number of orbs set by a quota or have your opponent’s board fill to the bottom.
It is a simple concept that has been tested to make very fun games. Magical Drop V had a number of chances to be one of them, but it falls short by a good amount. If you match a number of colors and lines together in quick succession, you create combos. Creating combos will send extra lines to your opponent.
There are a number of player characters, each representing a tarot card. Each character has a special attack that can be performed, sending numerous lines into the enemy’s board. Depending on the character used, the special attack can be one that is almost impossible to execute or one that is rather simple.
The game features a story mode as well as local and online multiplayer. The story mode consists of going through 12 stages, or less if you are playing on easy, and reading small pieces of dialog before each match. It’s nothing special. The online play has both a versus and co-op mode that has two players going against two other players. There is also a king of the hill mode.
After completing the story mode with characters, you can go into a gallery of sorts that allows you to look at art and listen to the voices of the characters with which you have completed the game. It’s not much but it is there.
Now that I have the features of the game out of the way, let’s get into why exactly Magical Drop V is not very good. The very first thing I noticed when I booted up my copy of the game was that it defaulted to German. I don’t really know why it does, but it took me a good five minutes to find the right option to change it to English. The game has some of the worst translation I have seen, especially during the small dialog cut scenes. Even some of the menus are misspelled.
For a game that relies heavily on quick movements and thinking, it feels rather sluggish when it comes to playing. It supports 360 controllers, so I used my gamepad for most of my play. Instead of holding left or right on the analog stick to move your jester all the way to the left or right, you have to tap left or right multiple times. That makes the game progression slow down to a crawl.
There were times when I picked up an orb of a certain color, and when they landed in my jester’s arms, they became a different color. For example, I lined up my jester to pick up some blue orbs. They were blue in the line and blue as they fell, but when they landed in my jester’s arms, they then turned green. Imagine that when you are trying to quickly clear some orbs or when your board is about to fill. That’s broken.
The AI seems to have no problem with movement, though. Even on the normal difficulty setting, I was getting creamed in the first few stages of the story mode. It seems like the AI is either brutally difficult or completely stupid. There were multiple times where the enemy’s jester would just go back and forth without doing anything at all, allowing me to throw as many lines as I wanted at its board. Inconsistencies are a big problem in this game.
The online play is a lag-fest of gigantic proportions. Every match I played online was delayed by a good two seconds, and I could never tell exactly why I won or why I lost during a match. Sometimes things would happen that made no sense at all. It was almost like the game couldn’t keep up with what my opponent and I were doing.
Lastly, there is a character in the game named Detective Bruce. I did a little research on this character and found out that he is from another puzzle game. I did my research because Bruce is the single character that breaks this entire game. Instead of the traditional way of playing the game, Bruce only matches three colors and launches his orbs very differently. The AI controlled Bruce is one of the most brutal opponents in the game.
I will say this; the soundtrack in the game is great. I love practically every song, and it really is one of the very few redeeming qualities. Still, I wouldn’t buy this on the soundtrack alone.
Magical Drop V had a lot of promise. With a simple mechanic of matching three orbs to clear a board, you wouldn’t think the developers could mess that up, somehow, they did. The AI is all over the place, with frustratingly hard difficulties to laughably stupid, easy difficulties. The online play would have been great if it weren’t for the bad lag, and the game in and of itself would have been a really fun time if it hadn’t been so sluggishly implemented. The developers have stated that they are working on patching the game, and maybe after those patches hit, the game will improve. As of right now, you may want to look elsewhere for a competitive puzzle game.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.