Japanese cover art
Popils, known in Europe as Popils The Blockbusting Challenge and in Japan as Magical Puzzle Popils (マジカルパズル・ポピルズ?), is a stage-based puzzle platform video game for the Sega Game Gear. It was released in the early 1990s by Tengen (see Atari) in Japan. It has the option of English or Japanese-language play.
There is a short animation during the game intro explaining a beautiful princess and a boy fall in love. But the evil wizard named Popil kidnaps her and traps her inside an enchanted forest and it is up to the boy to rescue her. When the game is completed the boy and princess are happily reunited and it's revealed Popil kidnapped the princess because he was jealous and he loves her too.
Popils is a single-player puzzle game in the form of a two dimensional side-view platform game. The player controls one character, a boy through different stages and must reach the princess on every stage to complete it. Gameplay centers on destroying blocks by punching them, avoiding enemies and spikes, and using various ladders and teleporting doors to reach the princess. Each stage is one fixed screen and does not scroll in any direction and is completed when the boy and princess meet, or failed when either the boy or princess is killed, the boy and princess have no health and will die upon contact with an enemy, or falling onto a spike. The puzzle aspect is based on punching the blocks, when a block is destroyed the column of blocks above it fall down one square and doing this can change the layout of the stage altering possible paths for the boy, or for the princess and enemies which move around. On many stages the player must move the boy for the most part to reach the princess, but in some stages movement of the boy is restricted to a small area and the player must make him punch certain blocks to create a path for the princess to follow to the boy.
The concept of steps is used to calculate score and whether a stage is completed perfectly. Punching once is one step and walking or climbing one square is one step. To complete the game perfectly all 100 levels must be completed using the same amount of steps as the mapper or less.
In normal game mode there are 100 levels of increasing difficulty, a stage select screen is shown where any available stage can be picked to play but only stages 1-5 are available at first. Completing any three stages unlocks the next five, and they do not have to be completed in any order or in sequence. Thus 1-10 are then available to play after completing any three stages from 1-5 and stages 1-15 are available when any six stages are completed until finally all 100 stages are available to play after any 55 stages have been completed.
On the stage select screen the player can look at all available stages. An image of a stage will be displayed in white for an uncompleted stage, and brown for a completed stage, which may be played again. Also displayed is the number of steps the "mapper" or level designer used to complete the stage and the fewest amount the player has used, if completed; pressing a button on the stage select screen reveals a short text, a hint, as to a possible way to complete the displayed stage.
Completing all 100 levels in any number of steps will complete the game and show the credits and ending animation sequence. It will then say all the levels must be completed perfectly.
After completing the game all stages would already be available and now completed. A stage is displayed as "perfect" and in green on the select screen when the player has completed it in the same amount of steps as the mapper or less. Whether intentional or not some stages can be completed in fewer steps than the mapper's. When the player has completed all stages "perfectly" the credits will be shown again and a different ending sequence and the boy and princess are reunited.
Map edit, and Edited game
In map edit the player can create their own stages and test them, up to 30 stages can be saved on the cartridge. A stage must feature the boy and princess, can have 0-7 enemies, and if doors are used there must be two of each. Note all the normal game levels also follow the same rules.