At a glance, Sailor Moon Drops looks just like a re-skinned Candy Crush Saga. Perfect for train delays and extended family gatherings – what better time to jump in on all that match-3 action? Honestly, I’d be lying if I said I’d ever played a match-3 that isn’t named Puzzle Quest outside of those scenarios.
Now, here’s the conundrum. I’m not a fan of Candy Crush and I never did watch Sailor Moon as a kid, given my ten-year-old self’s all-consuming conviction that Cardcaptor Sakura was the superior mahou shoujo. And so…I’d really like to know why I can’t put this game down, please.
Released back in April 2016, Sailor Moon Drops has been around for a while now and seems to be doing well with an up-to-date subreddit and plenty of active fan groups.
Booting up the game launches you headfirst into Sailor Senshi universe. Everything, from the sparkly soundtrack and pretty-pink hues down to the intricate borders lining…well, everything…works together to really hammer home the fact that you’re playing a Sailor Moon game. Now watch as chibi Usagi does her thing. Adorably, of course, and in full Japanese voiceover. Sailor Moon fan or no, feel your heart stir.
Gameplay itself is simple enough. Nothing new here even for the most casual of match-3 players: make matches of three to clear tiles, with higher-count matches spawning special pieces that do useful things like clearing an entire row or column of tiles, or detonating tiles in a 3×3 radius. Stage clear requirements range from the simple ‘get X score in 2 minutes!’ to the ever-frustrating ‘drop these tiles to the bottom of the screen!’
Sailor Moon Drops does freshen up the formula a little by injecting its own flair. The characters have at their disposal unique moves true to series – Sailor Moon uses Moon Tiara Action, for example. These attacks come fully voiced and animated, a sweet touch that fans of the franchise will love. A more innovative stage type also demands that you match only tiles of a specific type to damage the boss of the level. After X moves, the boss ‘attacks’ to narrow down the type of damage tiles available, limiting your damage output and grinding you down until you run out of available moves.
Overall, the game feels extremely polished. Animation is seamless, sound effects are spot-on, the hand-drawn style of the background art is lovely and you can’t help but whiz through the initial stages, quickly getting pulled into anticipating unlocking the next playable character. Then comes the levelling up to unlock her special skills. Then it’s time to unlock all her available poses. A slippery slope indeed, and an extremely well-paced one at that. You don’t really feel the grind until you’re about thirty levels in and hopelessly hooked – as I was.
In a nutshell, Sailor Moon Drops aims to charm the hell out of you, and does so pretty skillfully. Fans of the franchise aside, any gamer who enjoys the often-abused collectible/upgrading aspects of mobile gaming is likely to get a kick out of this title. Give it a try (or Usagi will cry!)
SAILOR MOON DROPS Android Gameplay by AceMoon1974
Sailor Moon Drops is free-to-play on both iOS and Android.