Just in case you didn't receive the memo: I'm a card-carrying member of the "Single-Screen Platformer Fan Club." (As I'm sure you can imagine, it's a fairly small club.)
The game that's chiefly responsible for me joining this club is Bubble Bobble, of course. (That game's second sequel, Parasol Stars, prompted me to sign up for a life-long membership.)
Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for good single-screen platformer in the Bubble Bobble mold as a result. Some of the ones I come across, like Don Doko Don and Rod Land, quickly become favorites, while others, like Snow Bros., are played a few times and then all but forgotten.
I used to include Pop'n Magic, made by Riot/Telenet and released for the PC Engine Super CD-ROM2 in 1992, in the latter category. I'm not entirely sure why, to tell you the truth, although I think it had something to do with the game's slightly generic (although wonderfully colorful) graphics, stilted animation and stiff controls.
After re-reading The Brothers Duomazov's write-up of the game last week, though, I decided to give it another chance. And you know what? I'm now really digging it.
Don't get me wrong: I still think the game's art style is a bit generic, but I find it kind of charming, too. (I especially like the blue blobs that appear throughout the first world and the surprisingly cute zombies that appear throughout the second.) Also, I still think the animation's a bit stilted and the controls are kind of stiff, but neither aspect is so off-putting that the game seems unplayable or unenjoyable.
Re-playing Pop'n Magic has helped me recognize and appreciate some of its other aspects, too--such as its backgrounds, all of which seem to feature some amount animation, and the strategic nature of its gameplay. (As in Bubble Bobble, the protagonist in this game encases enemies in bubbles. What sets Pop'n Magic apart, though, is that every enemy turns into a bubble of a different color, and to rid a stage of them you have to throw bubbles of different colors against each other.)
I also can't help but like how, when you throw one bubble against a number of others (as opposed to just one other bubble), candies and fruits and other power-ups pour from the broken bubbles like treats from a piñata.
Do I now hold Pop'n Magic in higher esteem than, say, Parasol Stars and Bubble Bobble? Not quite. I do consider it to be a top-shelf single-screen platformer, though, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the genre.
See also: Previous 'Second Chances' posts