Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Magical Doropie Birthday Megapost

  Today is December 14, and 20 years ago on this exact day, Magical Doropie was released in Japan for the Nintendo Famicom. Magical Doropie was developed by Vic Tokai, a sibling company of TOKAI Inc., a natural gas company. Vic Tokai (Valuable Information & Communication) is a telecommunications company that from 1986 to 1998 made video games for various systems as well as the PC.
  The plot of the game is that Earth has been attacked by the Akudama Empire (Fun fact: Akudama is Japanese for “Bad Guy.” At least Akudama sounds pretty cool...) All of Earth’s weaponry, even the most advanced, are unable to harm the Akudama’s robots. Their only hope is to summon the last remaining witch that hasn’t been sealed away: Doropie. A mercenary named Kagemaru is sent out to recover her staff, and manages to summon Doropie just in the knick of time after being chased and surrounded by the Akudama’s scout robots. It’s up to Doropie to fight against the robotic army and save the Earth from a complete takeover.

  The gameplay is similar to Mega Man, between the abilities, the color changing, the main character’s sprites (not exactly but they do bear a slight resemblance) and even the charge ability. Interestingly, this game came out before Mega Man IV, meaning it came up with the idea of a charge attack first. It isn’t implemented as well as in Mega Man, though, since cancelling the charge halfway won’t launch an attack. It also stops charging if Doropie gets hit or descends to another “section” of the level.
  One thing I like about this game is how the different abilities are used. Rather than like Mega Man where the weapons are primarily meant to outmuscle a foe, here they’re used in the strategic sense, introducing a puzzle element to the traditional run ‘n gun fare. Of course, you’ll spend most of the time using the Ball and Broom abilities more than the others, but still.
  The game’s much harder than a Mega Man title, as the enemies are harder and the level design can work against you. It seems kinda unpolished in some places, as when the screen scrolls downwards you can find yourself guaranteed hit by an enemy or falling into a pit of spikes you couldn’t see beforehand (the beginning of 3-1 is a good example.) Still, it’s a fun game if you stick with it, and could definitely use a sequel that enhances its fine points.

  Speaking of unpolished, Magical Doropie managed to get released into the U.S. as The Krion Conquest.

  Not much was changed. The title was altered, Doropie was redrawn in the intro and renamed Francesca (Kagemaru, the orange-haired mercenary, is unmentioned in The Krion Conquest,) removed the continue ability, which means losing all your lives leads back to the title screen, and the biggest thing: They removed the cutscenes. The cutscenes are considered to be the best thing about the game, done similarly to Ninja Gaiden, featuring gorgeous anime spritework of the characters and events. This leads to the game not having much of a story outside the manual and intro. In fact, the credits just scroll over the final boss’ battlefield.
  Magical Doropie also got released by Genki Mobile in Japan for mobile phones though the Vodafone service on January 14, 2004. It features scaled down graphics, but looks pretty faithful. The game got edited to be much easier, especially since this was on dinky cellphones.
  And now, to celebrate 20 years of Doropie, here’s some neat stuff I found/put together. First off…Another Unused Sprite Examination, since it turned out there wasn't as much there as I originally thought:

  So even the Japanese version had much more in plan (More on this later...) First off, there’s Kagemaru, complete with sprites that mirror Doropie’s. This tells us that he was planned as a playable character. He even has his own hi-tech broom! He just uses Doropie’s life icon, but I put together my own for him for the fun of it (And for something else at the end of this article.)  Next is…An unused character! Again, the sprites say that she was meant to be a playable character, but unlike Kagemaru, she never made it into the final game. She has her own life icon, which is that goofy smiling face similar to the one Doropie makes in 2-1’s cutscene. I don’t have any programming or hacking knowledge, so I’m not sure what else there is with her in the game, like a name or anything. To make life much easier (and because I’m not going to retype “Unused Character” a dozen times) we’ll just nickname her Aiko for now. Also note how she seems to be a cupid-type character of some kind, judging by her broom.
  The other thing is that unfinished Doropie sprite. That’s all the tiles that remain of it, which is why it isn’t complete, but I’m guessing it has to do with the Clone Doropie you fight on the Space Station. Its palette is differently done than the Doropie sprites (hence the coloring from the tile editor, which was set to Doropie’s normal color scheme,) and there’s none else like I could find.

  Aiko sprites and life icon, two of which I put together. Doropie’s cutscene sprites for comparison.

  Kagemaru’s sprite set. His eyes are the same as Doropie’s and Aiko’s, rather than the more blank eyes used in the intro and cutscenes (last minute change?) I think it’s pretty cool how his weapon is the bigass gun from the Japanese box.  Kinda wonder why the U.S. version didn't bring him back?  He would've been more appealing to them if it featured a guy with a giant gun.

  The weird Doropie sprites with her holding the gun. To the right is some tiles I found of I guess Clone Doropie phasing in, which I believe is used in the game. Not all of it seemed to be there, though.  That, or I couldn't find it.  Some of the sprites are stored oddly in their vicinity.

  Tiles from the “Round # Start” screen that’s absent in The Krion Conquest. Notice the “Magical Kid’s” graphics… The game’s Japanese name is Magical Kids Doropie, which certainly explains the two unused character sprites earlier. Again, more was planned for this game than originally led on. Those tiles might still be there, just blackened out, though I’m not fully sure.

Video of Aiko and Kagemaru in action

  Next up, Bootlegs!

  Bootleg Doropie Carts. Interestingly, the game achieved a cult status among Japanese gamers (not too surprising, since it combines everything Japan loves: robots, cute witches, nonsensical action...) so bootlegs are to be expected. The blue one uses art taken from the Japanese version’s box backing. The yellow one features art from something else, though I’m not sure what exactly.

  Japanese gamers could see the similarities to Mega Man, and one person even made a ROM hack of Magical Doropie featuring Mega Man! The palettes and Doropie sprites were altered, but the cutscenes were omitted. It somehow saw a bootleg release. Why do I act surprised?

  Now for images of the Japanese version’s cart, box, etc.

  Magical Doropie wasn’t originally going to be called The Krion Conquest for its U.S. release. It was supposed to be called Francesca’s Wand:

  Francesca looks a bit more “goth” on the title screen. Also that gameplay screenshot features a different level layout than either version. By that I mean there’s more of a slope over to the left. Maybe they were going to edit the levels and make them easier? Or I’m stupid and forgot that it’s actually in the game. Either way. Is it me or is Francesca’s sprite different? Her pose seems a bit different and it looks like she’s wearing black shorts. Is there a better scan out there somewhere? Dammit, this screenshot’s got me curious now!

  Finally, various images and videos by fans, officials, etc.


Following Three by Ryuu Majin


Perfect Run by JokerTH08

Let's Play by DigitalNinja21


(Includes the Kagemaru and Aiko edits, different language variations so far, etc.)

Magical Rockman (Magical Doropie Hack)
Thanks, Pirateman!

  Like the music? Here’s my personal Soundtrack release for the game, featuring some songs that went unused in the final game! Tagged to be a parody of Japanese soundtrack listings (like Mega Man 9).  File names help tell you what the songs are used for.

  That’s all for now! I’m gonna play The Krion Conquest to celebrate even further.

(Note: If there's something here that's yours and you want credit, let me know.  I found some of these things during 2-hour Google searching and forgot where they came from.)