Title screen of the arcade version of Magical Drop (known outside Japan as Chain Reaction), the first game in the series.
Conspiracy Entertainment (Only GBC)
Classified Games (Only GBC)
|First release||Chain Reaction
Magical Drop (マジカルドロップ? Majikaru Doroppu), sometimes referred to by native Japanese players as MagiDro (マジドロ?), is a series of puzzle games first released in the arcade, and later primarily for several platforms such as the Neo Geo Arcade, Super Famicom, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Bandai WonderSwan, GBC and the Neo Geo Pocket Color; most of which were published by Data East.
A stack of random colored bubbles descend from the top, and a player is defeated when a bubble hits the bottom. Bubbles can be picked up and dropped by the player's"clown at the bottom, and are destroyed when three or more of the same color are put together on a single column. Chains are formed either when a single drop caused a chain reaction, or when more than one group of bubbles is destroyed in quick succession. The game is normally played with two players (one may be a computer opponent), and chains cause the opponent's stack to descend faster.
There are 24 characters, all but the Black Pierrot being named after a tarot card (although the Strength card has been represented by two characters throughout the series). Different characters have different attack patterns. The columns of the opponent's stack will descend at different rates relative to each other depending on the character chosen. This causes a disjunction of colors that may make it more difficult for the other player to clear their stack. For example, with the character Devil, all the columns will descend at the same rate, whereas with Sun, the middle columns will descend faster than the others.
In 1995, Data East released the first game in the series as a coin-operated version of this game titled Magical Drop (known in North America as Chain Reaction). Despite the arcade game being released worldwide while using the English title in North America and Europe, Data East gave the official English names of its successors the same names as their Japanese counterparts, while the home versions of the first game were never released outside Japan. The series became better known for its Neo-Geo sequels, Magical Drop II and Magical Drop III, due to the popularity of the Neo-Geo platform. The last games in the series released in the United States were Magical Drop Pocket for the Neo Geo Pocket Color in 1999 and Magical Drop for the Game Boy Color in 2000.
G-mode bought and currently now owns the intellectual rights to the Magical Drop franchise along with several other of Data East's franchises and titles. While Data East declared bankruptcy in 2003, other publishers have re-released the PlayStation titles Magical Drop 3 + Wonderful and Magical Drop F. Magical Drop II and Magical Drop III are also available on the subscription service GameTap. In 2007, the Super Famicom version of the first Magical Drop title was released in Japan on the Virtual Console for the Wii by G-mode. In 2009, versions of Magical Drop for Android phones and iPhone were released in May and September, respectively.
On May 25, 2010, Magical Drop II was released on the Virtual Console by G-mode. In 2010, Magical Drop III was included as part of Data East Arcade Classics and released on the Virtual Console in Japan on July 6, 2010. At E3 2011, UTV Ignition Entertainment announced a new sequel, Magical Drop V. Handled by the French developer Golgoth Studio, the game was released for PC on November 15, 2012.
The following is a list of games released in the series.
Magical Drop (マジカルドロップ)
The first game in the series, first released to arcades in 1995. It features Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Chariot, Devil, and Star as playable characters. It features a single-player mode, where the player battles each playable character before taking on World in one final encounter, as well as a two-player multiplayer mode. The game received an updated version named Magical Drop Plus 1! (マジカルドロップPLUS1!), which adds a Solo Play mode that challenges players to obtain a high score without having to battle an AI opponent. Magical Drop Plus 1! was released in English as Chain Reaction.
Magical Drop was ported to the Super Famicom, which includes a puzzle mode that challenges players to solve preset puzzles given a limited number of possible moves. The game was re-imagined for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn with different, pre-rendered characters. Finally, a port of the game is part of Magical Drop III + Wonderful; this includes the PAL version of III + Wonderful, which retains the Magical Drop Plus 1! name as opposed to using Chain Reaction.
Magical Drop II (マジカルドロップ2)
The second game in the series moved from Data East's proprietary arcade hardware to SNK's Neo Geo. It first released in 1996. In addition to the cast of the first Magical Drop, Magical Drop II introduces Justice, as well as antagonists Strength, Empress, and Black Pierrot. One notable gameplay change is that normal bubbles and "special" bubbles can now be matched together, unlike the first game where they were considered completely separate. The "Solo Play" mode, now known as Puzzle Mode, is also changed to add more rows to the player's playfield. Finally, the Japanese version of Magical Drop II contains a third mode named Hirameki that offers preset puzzles for the player to solve.
Magical Drop II was ported to the Neo Geo CD, Super Famicom, and Sega Saturn. The Super Famicom and Saturn ports add short conversations between the characters in cutscenes, while the Super Famicom version also allows players to adjust the characters' parameters.
Magical Drop III (マジカルドロップ3)
The third Magical Drop game, first released in 1997, was also developed for the Neo Geo. This games adds representatives for the remaining Tarot Major Arcana, as well as introducing a "daughter" Strength character that more closely resembles the traditional depiction of Strength. The game adds a third button, which allows players to add rows to their field at any time. Additionally, attacks now sends lines to the opponent in non-even rows that vary by character. Hirameki mode is replaced by Adventure Mode, which is a board game that challenges players to reach Empress before CPU-controlled rivals. The English versions of Magical Drop III remove the hardest difficulty setting in Vs. CPU Mode and rival opponents in Adventure Mode.
The game was ported to the Sega Saturn and twice to the Sony PlayStation, alongside various other direct ports of the Neo Geo version. The Sega Saturn version changes the speed and various other aspects of gameplay. The first PlayStation port, Magical Drop III: Yokubari Tokudaigou! (マジカルドロップ3 よくばり特大号), allows the player to choose between the Saturn's rebalanced version and a version more faithful to the arcade release; the second PlayStation port, Magical Drop III + Wonderful (マジカルドロップ3＋ワンダホー!) features the rebalanced gameplay mode from Yokubari Tokudaigou! alongside a port of Magical Drop Plus 1!. Magical Drop III + Wonderful was released in PAL regions as simply Magical Drop III by Swing! Entertainment.
The game was also ported to the Neo Geo Pocket Color (as Magical Drop Pocket) and the Game Boy Color (as simply Magical Drop). The Game Boy Color version does not include a CPU mode, and thus players only gain access to Magical Drop III's full roster by playing the two-player mode.
Magical Drop F - Daibouken Mo Rakujyanai! (マジカルドロップF・大冒険もラクじゃない!)
The fourth main entry in the Magical Drop series released exclusively on the PlayStation in Japan in 1999. It features Magical Drop III's entire cast of characters. Magical Drop F includes character-specific items, which give players unique abilities during gameplay. The game replaces Adventure Mode from III with an RPG mode.
The game's music and updated aesthetics were used in Magical Drop for Wonderswan (マジカルドロップ for ワンダースワン), which released in 1999 for Bandai's WonderSwan.
Magical Drop V (マジカルドロップV)
The fifth main Magical Drop game was developed by French independent studio Golgoth and published by UTV Ignition for Steam in 2012. Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network ports were announced, but ultimately never materialized. The game features a much smaller selection of characters, omits items, and removes Puzzle Mode; however, it adds new online gameplay modes. Characters from the cancelled Data East puzzle game Ghostlop are introduced; these three characters use Ghostlop gameplay instead of traditional Magical Drop mechanics.
A review of the arcade version of the original game in Next Generation stated: "Chain Reaction is proving quite popular in Japan, despite the fact that this kind of game has been around now for at least five years." The reviewer scored the game two out of five stars, concluding, "It's not brilliant nor innovative, certainly not new, but it's fun and as addictive as sex after lunch... in a jester suit."
- Magical Drop V magically drops on PC November 15
- "Chain Reaction". Next Generation. No. 13. Imagine Media. January 1996. p. 175.
- http://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/2010/12/magical_drop_ii_virtual_console/. Retrieved 2/19/2017.
- http://www.nintendolife.com/reviews/2010/12/magical_drop_iii_virtual_console/. Retrieved 2/19/2017.
- "Magical Drop 5 review: Magical Mess" https://www.engadget.com/2013/01/10/magical-drop-5-review/. Retrieved 2/10/2017.
- "Review: Magical Drop V" https://www.destructoid.com/review-magical-drop-v-238608.phtml. Retrieved 2/10/2017.