April Fools: The Return of Neco Drop!

It’s unfortunate I didn’t have the energy for April Fools Day this year, as the day does the potential to be a lot of fun in making obvious jokes. It also didn’t help that I really don’t think I’ll be able to top last year’s April Fools Day output! Still, I was able to enjoy two bits of April Fools – one new (updated?) and one old.


I’ve been doing more recently to archive and collect my old files, and among those were two screen captures from an April Fools gag that is now more than 10 years old. Back when cross promotions were a little less common, Arc System Works and Examu teamed up to hype a new game pitting Arcana Heart 3 against BlazBlue Continuum Shift. My one April Fools tweet this year revisited this concept.


The teaser site for the collaboration featured mock screenshots, art and information, but it also offered a very simple Flash-based mini game visitors could play that featured characters from the games.


It should have been obvious with the site’s sudden appearance on April 1, but, upon completing the game, the façade was lifted as the game outright displayed a message indicating the whole thing was an April Fools gag.


Coincidentally enough, Arcana Heart and BlazBlue would actually eventually collide, albeit in a limited capacity, in 2018’s BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle.


The bigger news in 2021, though, was the return of Capcom’s Neco Drop!

neco2game


Neco Drop was was a bright spot for 2020’s April Fools Day, taking a Same Game concept and applying it to a universe where Capcom’s Street Fighter characters are cats. With light gacha elements, players were tasked with locating each of the game’s cats, and better performance in the puzzle game led to better chances the player could befriend them.


Neco Drop was a fantastic offering, bringing forward something that was a joke, but it was something that was also entirely playable – the best kind of April Fools feature! The only drawback was that the game was quickly taken down after April Fools.


In a pleasant surprise, the game returned with an upgrade this year – Neco Drop 2! This game recycled many of last year’s assets, but that isn’t a complaint as last year’s game was only available for a very short period of time and this allowed people to revisit the concept.


However, this year’s entry added an overall story that saw the player transported to this Street Fighter cat universe, and solving the puzzles and befriending the cats is the player’s ticket to returning to their own world. The update also afforded Capcom the chance to add more characters that have since been announced to Street Fighter V’s season passes.


The root of the gameplay remained untouched. Using the Same Game mechanics, players can click (or touch if being played on a tablet or phone) squares of the same color that match horizontally, vertically or a combination of both. Usually the goal is to manipulate the board so more colors match up and players can remove as many squares as possible in one move. In Neco Drop, getting these large combinations also triggers bonus icons that do actions such as removing an entire row or column or removing a large number of squares within proximity to the icon.


When a player locates a cat, they are tasked with conditions they have to clear within the rules of the puzzle game. This can be as simple as removing a set number of colored squares, but the rules can also include removing special icons such as boxes and barrels that require multiple matches in their proximity or making sure Mobi-Chan icons are dropped all the way to the bottom of the playfield.


If a player clears the puzzle, their performance is ranked up to three stars. Better performance leads to better cat food options on a roulette wheel that determines whether or not the player actually befriends the cat chosen. Once a cat becomes the player’s friend, they are added to the game’s encyclopedia, and befriending them multiple times adds more character quotes to their encyclopedia entry.

necofriendgif


New to Neco Drop 2 were options that made the game more accessible and easier to complete in the limited April Fools time window. The cats could be found in four different areas that could be rotated, making it easier to get characters you specifically needed for encyclopedia entries. Players are also now granted a limited number of special moves that allow them to clear entire rows or columns on command, clear one very specific space on the board or call for the board to be reshuffled.


Neco Drop 2 also played more into advertising the Street Fighter V product with a wagering option that provided the player with benefits. Last year, if the player failed to complete the puzzle, the player was kicked back to the cat selection screen. However, in Neco Drop 2, players can opt to visit the wagering feature to place a bet on a movie that shows two characters from Street Fighter V in a fight. If the player correctly predicts the winner, they are given 10 more moves to complete the puzzle, and if they are incorrect, they are given 5 more moves.

ezgif.com-gif-maker


The player can also visit this feature from the menu to replenish their special moves. Here, a correct bet gives the player two roulette tickets to spin and win moves, while an incorrect bet provides one ticket.


I thought the feature was not intrusive. Neco Drop was a fair game, but the final few puzzles were definitely challenging. The wager feature would likely get old, but, I found I didn’t have to visit it very often to get what I needed to round out the encyclopedia. The boost definitely gave me what I needed to see the entirety of the game quickly, and it likely helped players see everything this limited-time game had to offer. It also seemed that the random gacha elements in befriending the cats was very much more generous this year than last.


On top of introducing the new characters – which includes a very special guest character – unlocking groups of characters that would normally interact in the Street Fighter universe also unlocked unique story segments. The segments really only amount to short, simple gags, but it always warms my heart to see the cast of Final Fight and Street Fighter: The Movie reunite.

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Completing the first entries of the encyclopedia unlocks a congratulations message with downloadable Neco Drop wallpaper, so you have something remember the game by after Capcom takes the game down for the year. 😦
Neco Drop has created another avenue for Capcom, as I’ve noticed you can purchase acrylic stand characters from the series on the company’s Japan site. It must be seeing some degree of success from players as it received another bout of support from Capcom. My younger son even remembers the game from last year and was excited to see it return.


Will we see Neco Drop 3 next year? Will Capcom make the series a staple outside of April Fools? Only time will tell, but Neco Drop is the best kind of April Fools Day item you can hope for, and hopefully more companies follow suit in such endeavors … For real, companies, it’s time to retire the [insert popular series here] is now (not) a visual novel dating sim bit.

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, GemuBaka Random

Author:indiesnack

Indie Snack is a video gaming Web site focusing on independent developers and game releases. Indie Snack will also soon have services made available to independent developers to include tools aiding them in public relations and game marketing.

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