Magical Drop VI (Steam)- Review

Thanks to Forever Entertainment for the review code

Title: Magical Drop VI
System: Steam (PC)
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 04/25/2023


One day, the world of Magical Land gets out of balance, and it’s up to a worried one to help find a way to unite both good and evil to help protect the land! Honestly, despite having a story mode as a main attraction, the plot here is pretty much insignificant and never amounts to anything, with the character interactions somehow managing to be less funny than in prior games. At the very least, this basic plot accompanies a game series brought back after a pretty poor revival attempt last decade, so did this versus puzzler manage to come back in style?


Magical Drop is a series that has gone through a variety of art styles, to the point I can’t honestly pinpoint which one was the “canon” look. You have the original, which was presented in a cute way that looks a lot like a children’s book, then II and III on the Neo Geo took that style and gave it a lovely boost with great animations and faster flow thanks to the power of that hardware, and then IV, also known as Magical Drop F, ditched the old style in favor of a more serious looking one that appeared to be trying to copy the more mature look Puyo Puyo n was going for, and the less said about Magical Drop 1‘s PSX remake or Magical Drop V, the better.

Needless to say, this series has had a lot of presentation choices over the years, and I feel Magical Drop VI does an OK job at trying to capture the older feel of II and III. A lot of familiar animations, character and game elements have been redone in a newer, cartoony style, and I found it to be a vast improvement from how messy V’s attempt at a cartoony look went.

Some of the characters do seem to have been given more attention to detail than others though, and some general UI elements still look a little off; the cute guy that resides on the bottom of your playfield, for instance, animates a lot more cheaply than the main characters, which brings a sense of inconsistency to the mix. Still, even in this not-perfect form, Magical Drop VI looks pretty darn good in the heat of gameplay, though the UI outside of gameplay is incredibly dull and just tries to copy that of III, but doesn’t nail it nearly as much as the gameplay scenes.

The audio is also a mixed bag. A lot of sound effects are outright unedited from Magical Drop III, and a bunch of the OST consists of remixed versions of character themes from across the series. Some of these remixes are pretty decent, but I found a bunch of them forgettable, and with how much it relies on older scores, I was honestly surprised to not see the option to just toggle on the classic versions of those tunes. The voices are all new and done in Japanese for each character, meaning that yes, MDVI does not use the same few lines as in the US Arcade versions of I-III. Thank goodness.


Magical Drop VI carries the safe and fun traditions of previous entries. You have a board filled with magical drops of varying colors, and must move around, grabbing those drops to match them in sets of three of more, while also working to create chain reactions or combos before the older set clears out. Thus, speedy fingers can lead to incredibly deadly combos, and insanely addictive tug of wars between players. Luckily, that core gameplay is still intact, and when dueling a CPU or another player, the battling is fun and frantic, just as it should be.

Of course, such a game would be expected to have modes to play around in, and sure enough, Magical Drop VI has quite a few. You have a Story mode, which is a pretty routine gauntlet of stages with some branching paths and alternate endings, but as mentioned earlier, the plot points are incredibly generic and the character interactions leave a lot to be desired. It should also be noted that the game interrupts your best two out of three set to have the two characters talk to one another, which can become incredibly annoying once you go back to replay it, and I really wish there was an option to just do the set of rounds uninterrupted.

You then have the traditional VS Match mode, which is structured like the older games in that you face a gauntlet of opponents, one after another… Only there’s no score focus at all. You still get points, but no longer any bonuses for beating an opponent super quickly, which was easily the best sense of replay value III’s arcade mode provided. What makes this mode even worse is that after a few fights, you’ll run into an opponent you haven’t unlocked yet, and will be immediately booted back to the title screen. Any sort of streak or challenge you had going is just completely halted for no reason other than you didn’t unlock the character the game wanted to throw at you, making this mode nigh near unplayable until you unlock everyone.

And ooooooh boy, does this game love to focus on unlocks. As much as part of me loves the idea of hunting down and unlocking characters, I find the way this game does so to be very frustrating, especially since such unlocks also leads to modes in the game being unavailable until later, with some characters having obscene unlock requirements that you’ll almost certainly have to look up a guide for. (hope you like replaying a mode that doesn’t have leaderboards many times!) I feel if some of the unlocks were just as simple as clearing a mode without continuing, or fighting the locked off character in another mode they appear in, the frustration factor would be way down. At the very least, let us go through the full match mode even if we can’t play as everyone right away, or add the score bonuses from prior games.

Speaking of score, Survival is back from prior games, this being a mode where you have to clear an endless amount of drops as the difficulty slowly ramps up. There are varying difficulties like the other modes, and an end level you reach for, but the big flaw of the other modes shows up once again as yep, you guessed it, no scores are really recorded. You’ll reach the threshold to unlock someone, be given a final list of handy stats, but those stats won’t be recorded anywhere or even serve as a simple “X score is your highest score” to beat. Considering again, even the first magical drop had local leaderboards for this mode, removing the scorechasing focus is just incredibly silly. There’s also a puzzle mode that is a bit more fun, tasking you with using limited moves to clear out the board and using your brain a bit, but this also doesn’t really record any stats and is yet another mode for unlocks.

Haven’t heard enough about unlocks yet? Well, there’s Caravan Mode, which I was honestly the most excited about as such a thing was just up my alley in the Arcade Archives ports of Magical Drop II/III. This is survival, but on a 2 or 5 minute timer, and fully clearing the board awards a huge amount of bonus points. Now this is the fun I’m talking about, and all the aspects of a great, replayable mode are here… Except yet again, the fact it doesn’t log your high score or have a local/online leaderboard of any kind. Again, you hit a target score to unlock characters, aaaarrrrrrgggghhhhh! How this mode didn’t incentivize a leaderboard of some sort, even a local one for just this mode, bewilders me.

Last but not least for the solo modes is the Path of Destiny mode, a board game mode sorta like the one in Magical Drop III, where you and three other players set out to go through magical land’s challenges to reach the end goal, picking up items and coins along the way. It definitely has some Mario Party vibes with some of the chaos you can inflict on your opponents, or just the many ways you can have dumb luck, such as spaces that send you back a few steps, items that swap places with another opponent, or even the fact that losing a battle can cause you to go back to square one.

Considering how long this board is and how it has some of the boring challenges from story mode like collecting a bunch of ice before time runs out, this mode just flat out sucks, and while it would definitely be a lot more fun with human players, I couldn’t even find any way to do local multiplayer on this, which perplexes me. Not to mention for a mode focused on getting coins, (meant to unlock gallery images and other bonuses from an in-game shop) you sure barely get any unless you’re lucky enough to land on a coin minigame space. Honestly dreadful and sure enough, a lot of stuff is locked behind this mode.

However, there is an online mode, and with how the core gameplay still is stellar and would benefit from just good old multiplayer, how is it? Well, the online is very barebones. In fact when I first got this game, there wasn’t even any sort of lobbies or invite system whatsoever, which was completely mindblowing. Luckily this got added in rather fast, but even now, there’s nothing in terms of ranked modes or filters, and you just hop on and wait for a match. I managed to get one in, and it was a very stable connection that led to a fun fight. Afterwards, you’re booted back to the match select screen, and can’t even rematch your opponent. There are a few different VS modes to choose from too, but as it stands right now the online is incredibly simple to the point you’re either gonna rely on inviting friends to it, or just hope that you find a random person to battle with. I’m really hopeful with how feedback was used for the lobby feature, all the other stuff I had trouble with can be taken into consideration, too.


In conclusion, Magical Drop VI’s core gameplay is still fantastic, and honestly did a damn fine job at bringing back the frantic gameplay that made me addicted to III all those many years ago, polishing it up with a great new coat of paint. Unfortunately, MDVI’s idea of replay value is not that of scorechasing or online, but needless amounts of padding to unlock the full current roster.

This aspect is irritating as is, but considering how several modes are also locked, and then when you do unlock them they aren’t even that fun, it really makes me perplexed at what the devs were going for here; the Match mode, the traditional 1v1 CPU mode in prior games, is pretty much impossible to complete unless you do all sorts of grinding to unlock the full roster to fight against, and even then, it’s not a mode you can speed through to get point bonuses and best your score: instead, it’s just a boring CPU challenge with little incentive to even replay it except again, when you unlock all the characters and can get past the roadblock.

Survival and Caravan should be slam dunk, leaderboard focused score attack modes, but instead none of them keep track of your past records and are again, meant to unlock stuff: once you unlock the characters from say, Caravan mode, there’s literally no reason to ever replay it again since it won’t and will never log your highest score, and that is immensely depressing to see from a series with such a storied history of rewarding players for speedy play. Don’t even get me started on the dreaded Path of Destiny.

Ultimately, while a bunch of new modes and free DLC are planned for this game, and one of my other complaints was outright fixed during the review process, (The lack of any sort of lobby system, which has since been added to this Steam version) I can’t really recommend Magical Drop VI at this time, and that really hurts since again, the core gameplay loop is excellent and tons of fun! There’s just not much to have that fun with, and all the padding and none of the replay value does a lot to hurt the game, especially for the steep asking price. Hopefully this becomes a Battle for the Grid-esque situation where the post-launch state does a ton to add replay value and more fun, but as it stands now, maybe wait for this game to go on sale, restore the old scorechasing aspects, or add local/online leaderboards. This game has great potential, but right now it’s just a single drop in the pond.

I give Magical Drop VI a 5 out of 10.

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