This article will cover the basics of Magical Drop gameplay, with more specific topics covered in separate pages.
Note that the precise mechanics of many of Magical Drop's gameplay systems are not documented (or are only documented via the strategy guides for the Super Famicom versions of Magical Drop and Magical Drop II), and thus gameplay information presented on this wiki may be subject to change as new findings are discovered.
Magical Drop is typically played on a 7x12 field, though certain modes and ports alter these measurements. Round puzzle pieces (named inconsistently throughout the series' history, but referred to as Balloons for the purposes of this wiki) enter through the top of the player's field; the player is eliminated when a Balloon is pushed or dropped below the bottom of their field.
The player controls a Pierrot that resides at the bottom of the field. The clown is capable of grabbing and throwing Balloons directly above them, and can grab multiple balloons so long as they are of the same color. (Though the exact behavior of grabbing differs between games; see the game-specific sections below.) Players clear Balloons by matching three of the same color vertically. Clearing a set of Balloons will also clear any pieces of the same color that touch them. Clearing multiple sets of Balloons in quick succession is called Chaining, which will result in Balloons being forcibly pushed into the opponent's field.
In order to prevent competitive matches from going too long, there is a second win condition named Quota. The game keeps track of the number of Balloons that each player needs to clear to reach Quota. When one player's count reaches 0, the round is automatically awarded to them.
Before starting a match, players are asked to select a character. Character selection does influence gameplay, but the extent of which it does varies by game.
Notable game-specific differencesEdit
Below is a brief overview of the differences between games that influence the basic flow of play.
In the first Magical Drop, Normal Balloons and "Special Balloons" are considered separate pieces for matching and grabbing purposes, even if they share the same color. This makes the first Magical Drop the only game in which three Special Balloons are required to trigger the Special Balloons' secondary effect of clearing all pieces of the same color.
Each character is assigned 1-2 Special Balloon colors, and lines that they force into the opponent's field are dropped in a specific color arrangement.
Magical Drop IIEdit
In Magical Drop II, Normal and Special Balloons of the same color are considered identical pieces for matching purposes, but not for grabbing purposes. This means that only a single Special Balloon is required to eliminate all Balloons of a specific color, but the player's clown still cannot grab a Special Balloon if they are holding any Normal Balloons.
Like the first game, each character is assigned 1-2 Special Balloon colors and lines that they force into the opponent's field are dropped in a specific color arrangement.
Magical Drop IIIEdit
Magical Drop III finally allows the player to both match and grab Normal and Special Balloons of the same color. III also introduces a third button that allows the player to willingly drop lines into their field to assist in making chains. Rows that are sent to the opponent's field due to the player's chains are now pushed into the field unevenly, with the pattern varying based on character. These changes, along with slightly more chain leniency, combine to make a game that invites more continuous action than its predecessors.
Each character still seems to have a limited number of Special Balloon types/colors at their disposal, as in the first two games. Additionally, each character appears to have slightly different "scoring thresholds" for sending lines to the opponent. However, character-specific color arrangements, if they exist in III, only seem to be used in a limited fashion.
Magical Drop FEdit
Magical Drop F introduces Items. Each item has an effect that assists the player, the drawback being that it locks the player's ability to send attacks to the opponent until the player performs a certain number of clears. Items are, for the most part, character-specific; however, some modes allow the player to use multiple items.
Aside from items, there does not appear to be any character-specific traits.
Magical Drop VEdit
Magical Drop V adds a new game style, Ghostlop, which plays radically different from Magical Drop. Otherwise, gameplay is similar to Magical Drop III, the main differences being that there are no character-specific Special Balloons, drop patterns are more complex (albeit occasionally counterproductive), and the game generally requires larger chains to match the attack levels seen in III.