If you're as much of a puzzle game fanatic as I am, you've probably played Magical Drop. Money Puzzle Exchanger takes that classic formula and adds a coin exchange mechanic as well as a cast of anime idols so let's get ready to count some change!
I first got introduced to Money Idol Exchanger when it released as a PSone Classic a few years back and was immediately blown away when I started playing. Heck, I even included it as #3 on my PS1 puzzlers top 10 list. So, just what makes it so special? It's hard to put my finger on it but I'll try. Basically, it plays like Magical Drop except instead of simply trying to match colours; you have to make trails of coins that automatically combine. For example, 5 10s will make a 50, 2 50s will make a 100, etc. Once you manage to match 2 500s, they finally disappear and you get awarded some extra points. There are a couple of power-ups as well that can either erase or upgrade all of any particular denomination of coin. It all comes together to form a super-fun puzzle formula that's hard to put down.
Money Puzzle Exchanger features lovely visuals and sound. The visuals are bright and vibrant with a lively interface and playfield. What takes the graphics to a higher level is the charming cast of characters that are mostly female idols. Watching them happily light up when you perform combos and seeing their silly defeat poses will make you smile as you play. On the audio side of the equation, the soundtrack is quirky and fits the late '90s arcade vibe perfectly with bubbly melodies and toe-tapping rhythms. To round things off, the characters express themselves with stereotypical cute Japanese voices that only add to the onscreen fun.
There are essentially two ways to play Money Puzzle Exchanger: solo or competitively. The solo mode is fantastic if you want to wind down and see how long you can last and how high of a score you can get. However, competitive multiplayer is where the gameplay really starts to shine. You can compete in a single player mode against the computer where you can choose to play as either Exchanger (Sakura Mitsukoshi) or Debtmiser (Asahi Takashima). As you take on opponent after opponent, things get brutally tough so being able to beat the campaign can be quite a rewarding challenge. If you have a friend who wants to play then the local multiplayer can be a blast, too. My only complaint is that there aren't any substantial variations besides choosing different characters which makes the gameplay get rather stale after only a handful of rounds. I would have loved to see more options when setting up multiplayer matches.
ACA NeoGeo: Money Puzzle Exchanger features both the Japanese and English versions. As far as I can tell, the only significant changes are the text and coin designs but it's great to be able to play both versions (I prefer the Japanese one because it's more authentic) and there are also the standard Hi Score and Caravan modes that Arcade Archive fans should be familiar with, too. Although these additions are fun to play around with, I wish there were more core modes to enjoy besides just the simple solo survival mode and basic battle matches. Also, the fact that they're still not including museum-style content is disappointing. I really hope they start to compile such content in future releases because you'd expect plenty of bells and whistles after paying a premium price for an arcade port.
Although you may not have heard of it, Money Puzzle Exchanger is nothing short of a classic competitive puzzler. Its addictive gameplay and lively atmosphere make it a great game to pick up and play whenever you're in the mood for some puzzle fun.
- + Addictive Magical Drop gameplay with an exciting twist of exchanging money
- + Lovely visuals and sound
- + Playing competitively is great fun
- - Could use a larger variety of modes
- - No multiplayer variations
- - Lack of museum-style content