Cutefest with smartly varied gameplay!
Magical Pop'n is a 1996 SFC platformer put out by Pack-In-Video. It looks at first like a dull, groan-inducing cutefest, but after you get over the baby-girl voices spouted at every turn by titular princess Pop'n, you start to notice that it has rather detailed animation, tight control, smartly varied gameplay, lush and evocative backgrounds, and, eventually, an impressive level of difficulty. The levels, instead of being linear, are vast and complex, and later levels have a dizzying amount of branching. Secrets abound, and you better find a few if you have any hopes of increasing your meager hit points or replenishing the stars that power your various magical abilities. All in all, this turned out to be a surprising gem, one of the top platformers of the late 16-bit era.
Pop'n has a few claims to fame I discovered after reading a few reviews on Japanese web sites. For one, the box art (though not the in-game art) was done by Takami Akai, who is apparently fairly well-known as the character designer for the vaguely disturbing but well-regarded simulation Princess Maker, among other things. Secondly, the ubiquitous voice of Pop'n is provided by Japanese idol Ai Iijima, who has a big photo plastered on the back of the box next to gushing invocations of her popularity on TV dramas. What the box doesn't tell you (but which all the reviews I read noted with concerned amusement) is that Ms. Iijima is primarily known in Japan for her earlier film work, the nature of which I leave as an exercise for the reader.
Description by Shih Tzu.
Program & Design
Artwork & Design
Music & Effects
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Magical Pop'n (J).sfc (GoodSNES v0.999.5)
Magical Pop'n (Japan).sfc (No-Intro 2011-12-24)
Magical Pop'n (NTSC)(Jap)(1.0).sfc (Zapatabase 2011-01-30)