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Video Game / Magical Drop

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Puzzles, Tarot Motifs, and Fanservice
A series of color-matching puzzle games created by the now-defunct Data East. The original game was released in arcades in 1995. The second and third games were created for the Neo Geo MVS system; Magical Drop III was Data East's final Arcade Game. The fourth game, Magical Drop F, was a PlayStation exclusive released in 1999. Magical Drop V, developed by Golgoth Studio, was released on Steam in November 15th, 2012.

Magical Drop games put far more emphasis on characters than other puzzle games that make it to the U.S. territory. While other puzzle games have only small animated window dressing around the playfield, if they have characters at all, Magical Drop Uses characters as the background, and in VS. mode, each has several animations to coincide with the action and each even has unique voice samples (At least in the Japanese version).

The characters also control what special moves are available to the player and what chains are needed to execute these special moves. These moves are typically based on the Tarot Card the character is themed for. For example, The Chariot has offensive style special moves, especially in two player. In contrast The Empress is mostly defensive and The Fool's special move does nothing except grant extra points!


Another is the lenient combo system. While other games of this type such as Tetris Attack check to make sure that one group of pieces is DIRECTLY responsible for another matching up before issuing any kind of bonus or streak, Magical Drop is like Klax in that ANY new match is counted into the "chain" until the animation is done and all parts resting on the vanishing blocks fall into place.

However, easy chains do not make this game easy. The game accounts for and even DEMANDS it. Depending on the mode and difficulty, the game will not last long without near-endless chains.

No relation to Magical Doropie.



  • Anti-Frustration Features: Most of the games lower the difficulty whenever the player uses a continue.
  • Artificial Stupidity: For some reason, the Magical Drop AI in Magical Drop V regularly dips into this (to the point where Death outright breaks most of them in under 10 seconds). Unfortunately, the Ghostlop AI goes to the other extreme and edges into Perfect-Play A.I. (especially if the rank gets jacked up from defeating Black Pierrot), forcing fights against them to go to quota.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Some of the characters' wishes upon the titular Magical Drops go horribly wrong. For example, Hanged Man (who is perpetually hanging upside down) asks to be normal for a day; his wish is granted and he finally gets to walk on the ground...while everyone else hangs in midair.
  • Bonus Boss: Black Pierrot.
    • In Magical Drop II, he's the True Final Boss (reached by 1-credit-clearing the game)
    • In Magical Drop III, he occupies a "Special Stage" slot immediately before Tower, accessed by having 150,000 points and 3 consecutive victories before fighting Tower.
    • In Magical Drop V, he occupies an Extra Stage slot between Empress and Ghostlop character mushman, and requires you to get above a certain score and maintain a high rank to access. Unlike his two other appearances, he can be unlocked in this game by defeating him and finishing the game at the heightened difficulty rank.
  • Competence Zone: Much larger than many of its puzzle game brethren. Even excluding the Really 700 Years Old characters, the roster's ages range from 1 to 75 years old, with less than a third of the cast being teenagers.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In higher difficulties, your opponent moves via teleportation. The game openly admits to this in V.
    • III in particular absolutely loathes the idea of a No Death Run. On the standard difficulty, the game makes the player face 2-4 characters that are almost mathematically-impossible to beat without dumbing down the AI via continuing, with the exact number varying based on how well you've played up to that point. It doesn't help that three of those four characters are ridiculous regardless of their AI.
  • Contemptible Cover: The cover of the European PSX version of III, the "highlight" being an adult (and busty) version of the canonically 7-year-old Daughter Strength. The left side of the cover would be reused for the PAL version of the Game Boy Color Magical Drop.
  • Difficulty by Acceleration: Played straight in Puzzle Mode, but downplayed in competition-based modes where Quota prevents matches from going too long.
  • Difficulty by Region: Whether intentional or due to something going wrong in the PAL conversion process, the European PSX version of III moves at a much slower pace than the Japanese version.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: In addition to the Anti-Frustration Feature mentioned above, Magical Drop III attempts this by sending the player to different opponents based on their clear time. We say "attempt" because you have to face Hermit regardless of what branch you're on.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The ability to manually drop lines wasn't introduced until III.
    • The player had to match three item balloons in order to activate them in the first Magical Drop. In II, the player couldn't hold item and normal balloons at the same time.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: Magician's Magical Flash animation in III is a textbook example, with an incredibly intense flashing effect that can easily disorient even non-photosensitive gamers. Death's victim animation, which rapidly cycles through multiple colors, also deserves mention.
  • Fun Size: In II, a miniature version of themselves is the cursor. The dialogue scenes in both II and III have chibi interpretations of themselves.
  • Gainaxing: In addition to World's memetic victory animation, Empress's and Judgement's chests also bounce in their animations. The game generally gets slapped with a Teen ESRB rating precisely because of this.
  • Gameplay Grading:
    • Magical Drop V has this on each match, going from D to S. Originally, it was tied solely to speed in Story Mode and score in Versus mode, but the first major patch changed it to where you have to fulfill 3 conditions while winning to get an S rank (Get a 10 combo AND over 20,000 points in the stage without the match lasting more than a minute). Presumably, this was done because of the sheer difficulty of getting to the 200-balloon quota in under 20 seconds that the Ghostlop characters usually force you to do.
    • In a bizarre take on this trope, the Japanese version of Magical Drop III has the "Today's Fortune" segment at the end of arcade playthroughs, that grades the player based on ill-explained criteria and provides the player with a fortune based on their grades.
  • Guest Fighter: In Magical Drop V: Bruce, McCoy, and Mushman from Ghostlop
  • Instant-Win Condition: Quota. The game keeps track of how many balloons have been cleared; when one player meets the Quota, the match ends right then and there.
  • Interface Screw: The nature of many items in Magical Drop F. Examples include Emperor's (slows down the opponent's clown cursor) and Empress's (flashes her character portrait on top of the opponent's field) items.
  • Magical Land: The setting of the series is literally titled Magical Land, existing within a magical book titled Magical Drop.
  • Match-Three Game: A rare "launcher" type puzzle game.
  • Perfect-Play A.I.: At release, the Ghostlop AI in Magical Drop V would either be defeated in the first 5 seconds by sheer luck or never miss its target forcing you to go to quota, which basically prevented you from obtaining an S-rank in Story Mode on stages 9 and 11.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Super Famicom ports of the first two games use six columns in their playfields instead of the arcade version's seven, as the only other option would be to shrink the puzzle pieces in order to fit the console's resolution.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Not only does the AI in Magical Drop III start bending the rules sooner than its predecessornote , the fact that less balloons are sent in general means that it'll take much more to down the opponent. Magical Drop F goes in the opposite direction by downplaying character-specific traits outside of Limit Breaks, reducing the playfield by a column, and using much simpler color patterns. But it is played straight again in Magical Drop V (at least after the final update), as despite the rampant Artificial Stupidity, attack power is nerfed so much that it takes expert-level chaining to win matches via clogging the opponent's field.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: If another character gets to Empress's Castle before the player in III's Adventure Mode, the game ends without the player's character getting their revenge on her.
  • Some Dexterity Required: As the player's clown can be controlled even while pieces are clearing, Magical Drop is less reliant on the traditional "gravity" chains than Falling Blocks games like Puyo Puyo. The trade-off is that Magical Drop instead relies on very fast reflexes and split-second thinking. Good luck getting to the end of Magical Drop Plus 1, much less getting past the blatantly-cheating AI of II or III, without moving about as fast as the game will allow you to.
  • Speed Run: III gives out a time bonus for finishing off a CPU opponent quickly. Though this may seem like the optimal method of gaining a high score in Challenge mode, it actually isn't; the scoring formula changes once a chain gets large enough and pays out way more than even a 5-10 second bonus.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Flash Mode in the Japanese version of II challenges players to clear preset puzzles as a timer counts down. Should the timer reach 0, the ceiling will rapidly descend in an attempt to eliminate the player.
  • Stripperiffic:
    • The World wears only a floating toga strip. The funny thing is the game actually covered her up. If you look at the artwork on the Rider-Waite tarot deck, of which the character designs are based on (see Tarot Motifs below), you'll see that her costume is even more revealing.
    • The Empress as well. A Leather clad Femme Fatale with a Noblewoman's Laugh, bouncy breasts and a whip... Can we really deny that?
  • Stylistic Suck: The arcade endings in III, as well as the endings in V, are depicted as crude doodles.
  • Tarot Motifs: Each of the characters is named and modeled after a Major Arcanum. Exactly how close they are to the actual card depends on the character.
    • The Empress is a clever interpretation; her default, dominatrix persona is a representation of the reversed arcana, which twists motherly love into smothering and controlling. Breaking her free from that corruption in II will revert her back to the motherly persona she originally had, associated with the upright arcana. Her personality swap is also integrated into her victory animation in III.
    • The Lovers, on the other hand, is a five-year-old girl who rides around on a pig — try figuring that one out.
    • The Strength is a virtuous and courageous tomboy with a pet lion. Funnily enough, their first iteration of Strength (a huge, masculine brute) was the complete opposite of this. He still exists, but as a secret character.
    • The Hanged Man is upside down. Constantly.
    • The World, who is not only Ms. Fanservice, but, ironically enough, the ribbon that strategically covers her takes away from a more accurate representation.
    • Heck, even the game pieces count too. The symbols for each color represent the Minor Arcana. (Red, Wand; Yellow, Sword; Green, Cups; Blue, Pentacles)
  • Tournament Arc: Most of the games are centered around a yearly tournament whose grand prize is a wish-granting Magical Drop.
  • Updated Re-release: The first Magical Drop received one named Magical Drop Plus 1! that introduces an "endless" single-player mode. The English version, Chain Reaction, is based on Plus 1! rather than the original.
  • Verbal Tic: Many of the characters have them in the Japanese version, for example:
    High Priestess: "______ zamasu~!"
    Magician: "______ de aru~!"
    Star: "______ desu~!"
    Temperance: "______ kana~"
    World: "______ desu wa"
    • Lampshaded in the Japanese version of II; the difficulty levels for the Puzzle and Flash modes are labeled by character, and a given character's Verbal Tic is shown when they're highlighted.
  • Victory by Endurance: V trends towards this, with the game generally requiring larger chains to send lines than its predecessors. By comparison, it's not uncommon to see matches between two high-level players in III last for 20-30 seconds.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Each character only has one or two pre-battle lines in the arcade version of III. This is taken Up to Eleven in the non-Japanese versions, where there are only a handful of pre-battle lines in general regardless of the characters involved.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Fortune in V sports grade A.


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