Title: G-MODE ARCHIVES 19 MAGICAL DROP DX
System: Nintendo Switch
Price: 500 Yen
Release Date: 10/08/2020
In this mobile remake of the original Magical Drop game, you plan to face off against the goddess of the world, guiding six characters on their journey to do so! Seeing how this is an import, all text is in Japanese, and that includes the story bits. For the record, they don’t really amount to awful much anyway, besides funny banter depending on characters you win or lose against.
Per the standards I noted in the last review of a G-MODE Archive, this game sports a simple UI with leaderboard, border, and filter options to mess around with, though of course, being this is one of the many JP only Archive games, the menus are all in Japanese here.
The game itself is honestly not that bad sounding at all for a 2004 phone title. It uses MIDI audio, as to be expected, but there’s a lot of different tracks from MDII, and they sound pretty decent considering the limited hardware. The visuals are equally good, with most of the sprites being 1:1 copies of the ones from Magical Drop II, only with a lot less animation, easily making this basic mobile port infinitely better looking than the hideous Playstation remake.
Magical Drop kicked off a pretty excellent series of competitive puzzlers, but the original Arcade game was a bit notorious for slow reaction times and differing artstyle. So, this DX port decides to take the original Magical Drop, coat it with II’s assets, and slap it onto phones, with mixed results.
The controls are pretty smart considering phone layouts at the time, with one button being to grab colored orbs, and pressing up to release them. Match three or more of the same color vertically, and if they are released in that formation, those orbs and any surrounding orbs of that color will be erased. Yet the addictive fuel that powers these games comes from the small window during this timeframe, in which you can rush over and prepare more orbs to be erased, whether from a chain reaction or just a delayed combo. Magical Drop III is super popular in this regard for being so speed-focused, allowing for some insane combos if you have the finger speed to pull it off.
When fighting the CPU, this chain focus is the means to utterly destroy them before they destroy you, and nearly every game in the series prioritizes this, including this DX port. There’s only two gameplay modes here, the aforementioned arcade versus mode, and an endless mode, the latter supporting online leaderboards. Each have three difficulties to them, and once you pick a character, you’re off!
The versus mode is the main attraction, though right away you’ll notice that this game feels a lot clunkier and stuttery compared to the arcade versions. This is to be expected considering the technical limitations, but it seems in response to this, G-Mode outright made the game much, much easier than the arcade originals, even on the hardest difficulty. If you simply counter the CPU’s onslaught, even without trying to create chains, you can easily win by quota, and if you’re quick enough, you can destroy every CPU opponent before they can even counter.
On an original phone, this sort of leeway would make a lot of sense, due to delayed inputs and the like, but here on Switch where the controls are as responsive as they could possibly get, anyone familiar with prior MD games will have zero problem 1CCing the arcade mode on the highest difficulty, which unfortunately doesn’t make it the most apt for scorechasing or replay value outside of seeing everyone’s story mode. You can’t fight another player obviously, so this is pretty much all you’ll get for the versus component.
As for the endless mode, it’s pretty typical MD fare, with a gradually increasing difficulty level as you clear as many orbs as possible before the screen fills up. Just like with the arcade mode, the differing difficulties will be little issue for experienced players due to the delayed reaction time, thus meaning the orbs won’t advance fast enough for a loooooonnng while. While this does mean you can manually advance the orbs to create gargantuan chains and combos, once again the difficulty is a lot lesser than the arcade original even on the highest setting, so in my case I ended up having to deliberately die after 12 minutes of play due to zero resistance coming my way, since it honestly just never ramped up the speed enough to be worth a challenge. The online leaderboards are neat, but I can’t help but wish they were part of the arcade mode as well.
In conclusion, Magical Drop DX is a fairly solid phone port of a very fun arcade game, and while DX did inherit some of the improvements from later entries in this mobile remake, the difficulty was toned down a lot due to the limited hardware and button layout, and with this being on Switch now, that’ll easily be the biggest problem for players who jumped in via the ACA ports of 2 or 3, which offer a much higher challenge even on their lower difficulties. It’s still an excellent pick up and play title and arguably the most beginner friendly option of all the MD games on Switch, and you’ll still have a fun time waster on your hands if you import this, but for those hoping for replay value and increasing challenge, you may just want to stick to MD 2/3.
I give G-MODE ARCHIVES 19: MAGICAL DROP DX a 6 out of 10.