Magical Drop VI – PS5 Review

Magical Drop VI is the latest in a series of arcade puzzlers which date back to 1995 when the legendary arcade publisher Data East first released it in arcades.  This latest instalment comes by way of French coders Highball Games and while it’s their first crack at the series, it sticks firmly to the template set by all the previous games in the series.

While there are a few additional modes, the key gameplay is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the series.  If you’ve ever played ColumnsTetrisPuyo Puyo or Puzzle Bobble, you’ll probably be fine with this as pretty much this is more of the same but with actually simpler mechanics.

You play as a Jester (although you’re also playing as an anime-style character but the Jester represents them regardless of what they look like) and you can suck in coloured balls and then throw them back to the play area above to make matches of three or more.   As each level progresses, a new row of balls is added and if they fill the screen, it’ll be game over.  We’re maybe not explaining that brilliantly but after a few seconds of playing the game, it all makes perfect sense.  Although you’ll lose even the first match on Easy if you don’t press the button to manually force new rows onto the screen as you’ll need them there to make matches fast enough to beat your opponent.

Aside from that, progress is actually pretty easy.  We were able to beat the game on Normal difficulty with barely any trouble.  Any difficulties we did encounter came from levels that had specific criteria.  For example, you might have one where you have to clear a total of balls of one colour.  That’s fine except that the levels are always randomly generated, so you might get a playfield where there just aren’t enough balls of that colour.  This is even worse when you get levels that ask you to make chains.  It’s pretty hard to make a 7x chain in play areas this small when they aren’t pre-set up in anyway.

But aside from that, progress in the main Story mode is pretty easy.  Indeed, the only real issue with that mode is how unenjoyable the story is.  We’ve had so many of these games now with squealing anime girls spouting absolute bollocks, that we just ended up having to skip most of the dialogue, especially as there is just so much of it.  And it’s made worse by the fact that the characters are based on Tarot cards so you can have characters called World or Lovers talking to each other.  It makes reading it weirdly confusing.

Thankfully, we’re not here for the story, just the gameplay and the gameplay here is solid.  A bit like the recent-ish Puyo Puyo Tetris, everything is sharp and clean looking and matched with crisp, responsive controls.  Playing the game is pretty much a joy for the most part.  We’ve always liked the Magical Drop games and this one doesn’t let the side down when it comes to the fundamentals.  And, with that in mind, it’s easy enough to recommend the game to fans of the series.

But it’s not all good news either.  There’s a lot of faff here in terms of unlockables.  Characters and, worse, modes are locked behind various accomplishments and they aren’t always explained.  For example, we beat the ‘Match’ mode but then it said it was unfinished because we were missing a character or something.  Ugh.  And the Caravan mode (which is a time-limited score challenge) is locked by hitting score targets in the insanely tough Survival mode.  We’re always happy to have stuff to unlock in games but for some reason the balance feels completely off here.  And other modes are just a bit of a mess.  There’s one that’s sort of based on a Game of Life boardgame set up and that was pretty terrible given that it seemed to be heavily luck-based and yet even with pretty bad luck we still managed to beat it (despite failing a few of the levels within it).

So, yeah, it’s not all good news here.  The main issue is that thinking about chain combos and strategy just isn’t going to benefit you.  Magical Drop VI is all about speed.  Fling your balls up as fast as you can and you’ll beat Story Mode pretty easily.  Stop to think about making some lovely Super Puzzle Fighter combos and you’ll be eating balls quicker than an Only Fans model.

The cheery, colourful presentation and pacey action should definitely keep fans of the series happy and your enjoyment of the game will be vastly higher if you can wrangle in some friends for some player versus player competition but we can’t help thinking that the game should have been play-tested more with players new to the series.  And they could have done with cutting all the dialogue down to more meaningful and punchy snippets.  But Magical Drop continues to offer up fun, casual puzzling fun to the masses, even if this one does get the balance wrong at times.

Magical Drop VI
7 Overall
+ Clean interface
+ Crisp controls
+ The Magical Drop gameplay mechanics are still fun
- Difficulty can vary from too easy to utterly ridiculous
- Randomly generated levels sometimes just don't work well
- Story is more annoying than entertaining
- Rewards speed rather than strategy
- Too much faff when it comes to unlocking content
Despite some issues, Magical Drop VI continues to offer fun, casual puzzling entertainment to fans of the series.



About Richie

Rich is the editor of PlayStation Country. He likes his games lemony and low-budget with a lot of charm. This isn't his photo. That'll be Rik Mayall.

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