There aren’t a ton of import games on the North American PlayStation Network, and most of what’s available seem to be shmups. Model Idol Exchanger caught my eye as an ever-rare import drop puzzle game, sitting squarely among the other PlayStation Classic choices on the PSN. Was it worth the purchase?
Let’s just get this out of the way now: If you don’t enjoy puzzle games, you won’t enjoy Money Idol Exchanger. The game is a Magical Drop clone, complete with cute visuals and cut-throat gameplay. What makes Exchanger special is the whole.. money thing.
Replacing Bubbles With Money
Instead of the bubbles, balls, puyos, or what have you from most other drop puzzle titles Exchanger deals in yen coins. Players must match coins in order to make them not disappear, but instead upgrade into a single coin of a higher denomination. Some (like 5 yen coins) will upgrade when two are match; others require five coins of a single denomination to upgrade. Once two 500 yen coins match, they disappear from the field.
The money conversion aspect of the game adds a new level of strategy to the drop puzzle genre. It’s just enough complexity to make the game more interesting, but doesn’t bog the gameplay down by being too complicated. While Money Idol Exchanger is no Magical Drop 3 in terms of speed, the pace is still fast enough to be daunting to new players.
Pixels and Whining
The visuals for the game are solid for a PlayStation-era puzzler. The character designs (of which there are eight) are distinctly 90’s anime-style, and their pixel art is well-done. The coins are also easy to distinguish with their own colors and features. The game looks fine, considering what it is.
Exchanger’s audio does leave something to be desired. Despite having played the game for upwards of 20 hours, I don’t remember any of the music. I do know that it’s just as upbeat and bright as the game’s visuals, but there’s nothing distinguishing about it. It’s not even mentionable to the point where it’s annoying — it’s just there.
If you have played a drop puzzle game before, you know what to expect in the voice department. The voices are well-done, but it can be grating to hear the same phrases over and over again during a match. Nothing new to the genre, but it was especially memorable considering the game’s lack of music with some “oomph”.
Magical Money Idol Exchanger Drop
I found a much more solid purchase in this PSN Classics game than I expected. Bought more out of frustration than want (Magical Drop V for the PC wouldn’t work at the time), Money Idol Exchanger proved to be well-worth my $5.99. It has a slower pace than the past three iterations of the Magical Drop series, but it trades that speed for a more complex core. It was a fair trade, if you ask me.