"From an old magic book, Inside the Magical Drop is a wonderful magical land. The mysterious Magical Drop will give you anything you wish. This year, many competitors are going to a great Magical Drop Meet to win the Drop. Who will win? Let's start the fight!"
— Intro to the challenge mode on Medium and Hard difficulties

Magical Drop III (マジカルドロップ3) is the third installment of the Magical Drop series, released in 1997. Like its predecessor, the original arcade version of Magical Drop III was developed for the Neo Geo. The game introduces many new characters and refines the puzzle gameplay introduced in the first Magical Drop. Magical Drop III was ported to a variety of platforms.

Gameplay Changes Edit

Like Magical Drop II before it, Magical Drop III makes subtle changes to the series's core gameplay. The game introduces a third button, which allows the player to willingly summon rows of balloons into their field. Players can also now simultaneously grab normal and special balloons, unlike the previous game where they can be matched together, but not grabbed together.

Another addition is a "preset" type of frozen balloon. Like standard ice balloons, it can only be thawed when a set of balloons are cleared adjacent to them; however, the color of these preset frozen balloons are already determined and do not change based on the color of the cleared balloons.

Finally, rows resulting from a player's attacks generally no longer come into their opponent's field evenly. The opponent's columns are now raised according to character-specific sequences. For example, Empress's attacks raise the opponent's leftmost columns first, World's attacks raise the opponent's rightmost columns first, and Judgement's attacks raise the opponent's middle columns first. Fool and Devil are exceptions, as they retain the traditional attacks from Magical Drop and Magical Drop II which raise every column at the same time.

Game Modes Edit

Magical Journey (Adventure)Edit

A new mode, replacing Flash Mode from Magical Drop II. The player chooses a character and participates in a board game. Players earn the ability to move by participating in 60-second single-player sessions. The goal of the game is to reach Empress, and the player will land on several spaces that will either assist or impede their progress.

The Japanese version includes three rival characters, who the player must not allow to reach Empress. If the player lands on the same space as a rival, they will be given the option to duel, which will remove the losing player from the field.


  • Start Space - The first space of the board.
  • Normal Space - No effect; Takes the player to a normal puzzle area.
  • Event Space - Events that trigger something that will help the player on the quest. E.g.: Relic, Stairs, etc.

NOTE: In both English and European versions, some of these spaces will act as a "Mixed-up Puzzle Space".

  • Fire Balloon Stage Space - Takes the player to a stage where he/she must get as many fire balloons in 10 seconds.
  • Mixed-up Puzzle Space - This event will trigger when the blackbird tells the player when the balloons are being mixed up.
  • Trap Space - If the player lands on this skull shaped space, he/she must go back the number of spaces.

NOTE: After landing on this space, the player cannot go back the number of spaces for the second time.

  • Rival Space - The player will always stop on this space to challenge a sub-boss character.
  • Goal Space - The Final Space on the board leading to Empress' Castle. Empress will challenge the player to a final showdown.

Challenge Mode (VS CPU)Edit

The player battles against a number of CPU opponents. The Japanese version contains three difficulty levels: an Easy course (which features a smaller selection of opponents alongside tutorials from World), a Standard course (which features most of the characters and provides the player a fortune shortly before the Game Over screen), and a Difficult course (a more difficult version of Standard that features a special ending when cleared).

VS ModeEdit

The game play for VS mode is for two players. The VS mode, has tons of options: The default choice is the VS, where two players can pick their characters, and jump into the frenzy. The second choice is the Configure VS screen. Here, the player can change the type of versus game: Time Crush: who can destroy the most bubbles in a giving time; Quota Crush: who can destroy a certain amount of bubbles first; and Normal game: who can survive the longest or reach the quota first. In the Configure VS screen the player can also change the bubble graphics.

Puzzle ModeEdit

The puzzle mode is for one player. In this mode, the player must basically survive as long as possible, by making matches and comboing. The screen drop interval will get shorter and shorter the higher the level is. The Puzzle Model has three different levels of play: Easy, Normal, and Hard. The easy mode's play board is smaller then the rest and the patterns are 'nicer', that is easier to match colors. The play boards on the normal and hard modes are around twice as big as the normal Story and VS Mode boards.

Game Versions Edit

Neo Geo, JapanEdit

The original version of the game. Some of the features in this version are not included in other arcade versions, which are detailed below.

Neo Geo, North AmericaEdit

The North American version replaces all of the voice acting with the announcer from Chain Reaction. Character endings, fortune-telling, and the Difficult battle mode have been removed, while Magical Journey only consists of the player character with no CPU-controlled competitors.

Neo Geo, EuropeEdit

The Euro version features the altered set of gameplay modes from the NA version, but features a small number of voice actors representing separate languages.

Sega SaturnEdit

The Saturn version, named Magical Drop III: Toretate Zoukangou! (マジカルドロップ3 とれたて増刊号!, roughly Magical Drop III: Fresh Special Edition!) features slower gameplay, different drop patterns (including some balloons generally reserved for single-player modes), different Challenge Mode progression, and longer cutscenes.

PlayStation (Magical Drop III: Yokubari Tokudaigou!)Edit

The PSX version features a mode that attempts to play similar to the arcade version alongside the Saturn's "special" rebalanced mode. The "arcade" version is referred to as simply Magical Drop III, while the special version is named Magical Drop III: Yokubari Tokudaigou! (マジカルドロップ3 よくばり特大号!, roughly Magical Drop III: Greedy Extra-Large Edition!). Despite the "arcade" version visually mimicking the Neo Geo AES version (down to emulating the starting menu), there are several gameplay and graphical quirks that suggest that it is an adjusted version of the "special" mode rather than a direct port.

The choice between Arcade and Special mode is given to the player immediately upon booting the game, and the system must be reset to switch.

PlayStation (Magical Drop III + Wonderful)Edit

Magical Drop III + Wonderful features both the Special version of Magical Drop III and a console port of Magical Drop Plus 1!

This version of the game was released in Europe as Magical Drop III. The game features a slightly slower gameplay pace than the Japanese version, while the game's script is translated into multiple languages. Unlike previous versions released outside of Japan, this game retains the Japanese voice work; similarly, the port of Magical Drop Plus 1! is based on the Japanese version instead of Chain Reaction.

Characters Edit

Magical Drop III introduces a number of new characters. There are now representatives for all 22 Major Arcana.

Puzzle and Magical Journey restrict the player to a small group of characters. All characters (save Black Pierrot in the arcade versions) are playable in Challenge mode, though some require a cheat code to be made playable. The characters and the modes that they are available in are listed below; debuting characters are bolded.

Character Challenge Mode Puzzle Mode Magical Journey
Fool Playable Playable Playable
Magician Playable Absent Absent
High Priestess Playable Playable Playable
Empress Playable Absent Final Boss
Emperor Playable Playable Playable
Hierophant Playable Absent Sub-Boss
Lovers Playable Playable Playable
Chariot Playable Playable Playable
Daughter Strength Playable Playable Playable
Justice Playable Playable Playable
Death Playable Absent Sub-Boss
Devil Playable Absent Sub-Boss
Star Playable Playable Playable
Sun Playable Absent Absent
Judgement Playable Absent Absent
World Playable Absent Absent
Father Strength Playable (Hold 'C' while selecting Strength II) Absent Sub-Boss
Hermit Unlockable Absent Sub-Boss (PlayStation version)
Hanged Man Unlockable Absent Sub-Boss
Temperance Unlockable Absent Absent
Moon Unlockable Absent Absent
Tower Unlockable Absent Absent
Wheel of Fortune Unlockable Absent Absent
Black Pierrot Non-Playable (except in console versions) Absent Absent

To unlock Hermit, Hanged Man, Temperance, Moon, Tower and Fortune in the arcade version, players must press the C button three times while highlighting a character whose tarot number matches the character select timer. For example, pressing C three times while highlighting Death (XIII) and 13 seconds remain will unlock the characters. Upon unlocking the characters, ten seconds will be added to the character select timer.

As the "special" console versions don't have a character select timer, the aforementioned characters (plus Black Pierrot) are unlocked by clearing Challenge Mode once.

Challenge Mode Stage Order Edit


The player starts this mode on the middle trail. The player will move to the left after completing a stage in 60 seconds or less, and to the right after 60 seconds have passed.

Stage Number Left Trail Middle Trail Right Trail 1 Right Trail 2
1 Fool
2 Magician High Priestess
3 Chariot Daughter Strength Justice
4 Death Devil Star Sun
5 Judgement Hierophant Emperor Lovers
Final World Empress

Medium / HardEdit

Progression in this mode is similar to that of Easy mode. The secret stages are unlocked as follows:

  • For Moon, play time must be 90 seconds or less.
  • For Hanged Man, play time must be 300 seconds or more.
  • For Black Pierrot, the player must have won at least three matches in a row without continuing and have a score of 15,000 or more.
Stage Number Left Trail Middle Trail Right Trail
1 Devil
2 Lovers Justice
3 Justice Emperor
4 Star Chariot Fool
5 Fool Death
6 Hermit Hermit
Secret 1 Moon Hanged Man
7 Judgement Magician
8 Temperance Hierophant Sun
9 High Priestess Temperance
10 Empress World Daughter Strength
Secret 2 Black Pierrot
11 Tower
Final Wheel of Fortune

Character Tiers Edit

NOTE: This subsection discusses strategy and is thus inherently subjective.


A tier list created by SF2Guile in 2011.

Magical Drop III is generally seen as the most competitive of the Magical Drop series, and thus has the most developed "metagame." Characters have often been ranked in effectiveness, based on the drop patterns and chain strength. While the specific details of each ranking varies, there are a few opinions on the game's balance that are recurrent enough to be considered community consensus.

  • Fortune, Hermit, Tower, and Strength (particularly Father Strength, but occasionally Daughter Strength is placed here as well) are the absolute top tier. It is suggested to soft-ban these characters if doing so is acceptable among one's Magical Drop group.
  • Hanged Man, Empress, Emperor, High Priestess, World, Moon, Death, Magician, and Hierophant are viable, assuming that the above characters are removed from the metagame.
  • Chariot, Justice, Sun, Star, Temperance, Judgement, and Lovers have issues that hurt their viability in comparison to the above characters.
  • Fool and Devil should be avoided in competitive play, both having severe weaknesses that makes using them an exercise in frustration.

MDIII Tiers 2.0 Edit

S-Arcana / A-TOP / B-UP / C-MID / D-LOW

(S) Arcana TierEdit

  • Black Pierrot
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Tower
  • Daughter Strength / Father Strength

(A) Top Tier Edit

  • Hermit
  • High Priestess
  • Temperance
  • Empress
  • World

(B) Good Tier Edit

  • Moon
  • Hanged Man
  • Magician
  • Hierophant
  • Emperor

(C) Mid Tier Edit

  • Chariot
  • Justice
  • Star
  • Death
  • Sun

(D) Low Tier Edit

  • Judgement
  • Devil
  • Lovers
  • Fool

Voice Cast Edit

Japanese Edit

Voice actor Character
Yuuichi Nagashima Magician
Fumihiko Tachiki Hermit, Emperor
Takehito Koyasu Chariot, Hanged Man, Hierophant
Haruna Ikezawa Lovers, Death
Tsumugi Osawa Daughter Strength, Sun, Moon
Miina Tominaga Judgement, Temperance, Fortune
Eri Tanaka Fool, Devil
Mitsuyo Sunada Star
Eriko Kodaira High Priestess, World
Ring-Ring Justice
Rie Sakurai Empress
Kumiko Oka Black Pierrot
GORILLA Father Strength
ZAKU Tower


  • Fool is voiced by Eri Tanaka.
  • Chariot, Hierophant, Devil, and Hanged Man are voiced by younger male actors.
  • Magician, Emperor, Father Strength, Hermit, Tower, and Black Pierrot are voiced by older male actors.
  • Justice, Star, Lovers, Daughter Strength, Death, Temperance, Sun, and Judgement are voiced by younger female actors.
  • High Priestess, World, Empress, Moon, and Wheel of Fortune are voiced by older female actors.

Trivia Edit

  • Magical Drop III was Data East's final arcade game.
  • The unlockable/boss characters use their "official" colors on the Player 2 side, and their alternate colors on the Player 1 side. This is opposite of the regularly-available characters, who use their official colors on the Player 1 side and their alternate colors on the Player 2 side.
    • The "fortune-telling" screen at the end of arcade playthroughs exclusively use the Player 1 palette, resulting in the boss characters using their alternate colors.

Gallery Edit

Character artworkEdit

Others (including screenshots)Edit