Magical Puzzle Popils

From Sega Retro


MagicalPuzzlePopils title.png

Magical Puzzle Popils
System(s): Sega Game Gear
Publisher: Tengen
Distributor: Domark (EU)
Peripherals supported: Gear-to-Gear Cable
Genre: Puzzle[1][2]

Number of players: 1
Official in-game languages:
  • English
  • 日本語
  • Release Date RRP Code
    Sega Game Gear
    ¥4,800 (4,944)4,800e[3] T-48017
    Sega Game Gear
    $34.9534.95[4] 301200-0160
    Sega Game Gear
    Sega Game Gear
    £27.9927.99[5] T-48068-50

    Magical Puzzle Popils (マジカルパズル・ポピルズ), known as Popils: The Blockbusting Challenge in Europe, is a puzzle game for the Sega Game Gear. Different to other Tengen games, it was developed in Japan.

    The game was designed by Fukio Mitsuji, who also designed Bubble Bobble and Rainbow Islands for Taito and SegaSonic Bros. for Sega.


    A nameless Boy falls in love with a beautiful Princess. The evil wizard named Popils is jealous and kidnaps her, trapping her inside an enchanted forest. It is up to the Boy to rescue her.


    Magical Puzzle Popils, Stage 1.png


    Popils is a single-player puzzle game in the form of a two-dimensional side-view platform game. The player controls the Boy through 100 different stages (referred to as rounds) and must reach the Princess on each one to complete it. Gameplay focuses on destroying blocks, avoiding enemies and spikes, and using various ladders and warp doors to reach the Princess. Each stage is one fixed screen and does not scroll in any direction. A stage is completed when the Boy and Princess meet or failed when either the Boy or Princess is killed. The Boy and Princess have no health and die if they touch an enemy or fall onto a spike.

    The Boy can move around the stage by pressing Left or Right. He cannot jump. He destroys blocks by hitting them; either 1 or 2 punch in the direction that the Boy is facing. The Boy punches continuously in one direction by holding 1. Up+1 or Up+2 headbutts a block above the Boy; Down+1 or Down+2 kicks a block below the Boy. It is possible to punch blocks above the Boy or kick blocks below him while hanging halfway off another block, and this technique is necessary to solve some of the puzzles. The Boy cannot attack enemies. 1+2 restarts the puzzle at the cost of a life.

    When a block is destroyed the column of blocks above it fall down one square and doing this can change the layout of the stage altering possible paths for the Boy, or for the Princess and enemies which move around. On many stages the player must move the Boy for the most part to reach the Princess, but in some stages movement of the Boy is restricted to a small area and the player must make him punch certain blocks to create a path for the Princess to follow to the Boy.

    The game tracks the number of steps the player has used to complete the puzzle. Punching/kicking/headbutting once is one step and walking or climbing one square (16 pixels) also counts as one step. After a stage is completed, the game saves the number of steps that the player took and compares it to the number of steps that the mapper took. To complete the game perfectly, all 100 stages must be completed using the same or fewer number of steps as the mapper.

    The game includes a battery backup and retains the player's progress (the stages completed and the fewest number of steps taken for each) after the system is powered off. Additionally, the game has a Resume feature, where it saves the state of the current stage so that the player can continue it after the system is powered back on.

    The game saves the player's "IQ" score, which is higher if the player completes stages in fewer steps. Stages can be replayed to improve the number of steps taken, but while the game saves the best run, replayed stages do not add to the player's IQ. The player's IQ is also reset if the player runs out of lives. The game saves the top IQ scores.


    Normal Game

    In Normal Game mode, there are 100 stages of increasing difficulty. A stage select screen is shown where any available stage can be picked to play but only stages 1-5 are available at first. Completing any four stages unlocks the next five, and they do not have to be completed in any order or in sequence. Thus stages 1-10 are available to play after completing any four stages from 1-5 and stages 1-15 are available when any eight stages are completed until finally all 100 stages are available to play after any 76 stages have been completed. This means that player can choose to skip one stage out of each set of five and still be able to play stage 100.

    On the stage select screen, the player can look at all available stages. Uncompleted stages are displayed in grayscale, completed stages are yellow and may be played again. Also displayed is the number of steps the "mapper" or stage designer used to complete the stage and the fewest the player has used, if the stage has been completed. Pressing the 1 button on the stage select screen reveals a hint as to how the player might go about completing that stage. The hints point the player in the right direction but there is still thought and skill required to complete the stage.

    Completing all 100 stages in any number of steps completes the game and show the credits and ending animation sequence. The game then encourages the player to complete each stage perfectly.

    After completing the game once, all stages are available to play, though the player may not have completed them all. If the player has completed a stage in the same or fewer number of steps as the mapper, the stage is displayed as "perfect" and colored green on the stage select screen. Whether intentional or not some stages can be completed in fewer steps than the mapper, some by quite a difference. Others require pixel precision and use of movement tricks to equal or beat the mapper step count. When the player has completed all stages perfectly, the credits are shown again with a slightly different ending sequence.

    After completing the game perfectly, and viewing the alternative ending, the player is given the chance to continue once more. If the player chooses to continue they're taken to a secret stage, Round 0, which has to be completed using a gameplay trick the player has not seen before in any of the other 100 stages of the game. The player can continue over and over and keep trying to beat Round 0. If the player powers off the console before they complete Round 0 and activates the Resume feature, they will be able to try it again the next time they load the game. If the player is not using the Resume feature or, when prompted, chooses End rather than Continue, there is no way to get back to it during normal gameplay and the game will need to be completed perfectly again.

    Map Editor

    The game includes a map editor with which the player can create custom stages and test them. Up to 30 stages can be saved on the cartridge. Players can share maps with each other over a Gear-to-Gear Cable.

    A stage must feature the Boy and Princess and can have 0-7 enemies. If doors are used, there must be two of each. Note all the normal game stages also follow the same rules. The Japanese manual includes screenshots of a selection of 10 stages that are not otherwise available in the game that can be entered into the map editor and played.


    Main article: Magical Puzzle Popils/Maps.


    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    The player character. He must make his way to the Princess. The stage is completed when the Boy touches the Princess.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    The goal of each stage. She moves left and right on top of blocks. When she runs into a block, she changes direction.


    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Normal Block
    Destroyed by hitting with the Boy. Once it is destroyed, all blocks above it fall down one level.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Black Block
    Can be entered but cannot be destroyed.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Gold Block
    Cannot be destroyed or passed through.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Moves the Boy up or down a level. Up climbs and Down descends. Can only be used by the Boy and not the Princess or enemies.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Pointed Block
    Kills anything that lands on it, including the Boy or the Princess. Can also be used to kill enemy Slimes. Can be destroyed.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Warp Doors
    Warps someone from one door to another with the same shape. Can be used by the Boy, the Princess, and enemies. Some stages contain multiple types of door. After someone exits from a door, it is blocked (shown with a minus sign) and cannot be used temporarily.


    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Moves left and right on top of blocks. When it hits an impassable block, it turns around and starts moving in the opposite direction. Kills the Boy or Princess upon contact.
    Magical Puzzle Popils, Tiles.png
    Moves left and right between blocks like Slimes but flies. Does not fall when a block beneath it is destroyed (unless there is a block above it). Also kills the Boy or Princess upon contact


    Developer Jun Amanai has posted videos of several unreleased games on his YouTube channel, including Magical Puzzle Popils for the Famicom and PC Engine.[6] He states that the Famicom version was the original and that all of the puzzles in the Game Gear version were created in the Famicom version's map editor. Only the Game Gear version of the game was ever released.

    Localised names

    Also known as
    Language Localised Name English Translation
    English Popils: The Blockbusting Challenge Popils: The Blockbusting Challenge
    English (US) Magical Puzzle Popils Magical Puzzle Popils
    Japanese マジカルパズル・ポピルズ Magical Puzzle Popils

    Production credits

    • Concept & Game Design: Fukio Mitsuji (MTJ)
    • Additional Design & Program: Jun Amanai (JUN)
    • Music & Sound: Yoshihito Tomuro (TOM)
    • Graphics: Ken-ichi Nemoto (KAI), Masato Nagashima (HOD)
    • Map Design: Kazuo Matsunaga (MTN)
    JP manual
    Magical Puzzle Popils GG JP Manual.pdf

    • Game Design: F.Mitsuji
    • Audio: Y.Tomuro
    • Graphics: K.Nemoto, M.Nagashima
    • Map Design: K.Matsunaga
    • Program: Jun Amanai
    In-game credits (ending) [8]

    • Game Design: F.Mitsuji
    • Program: Jun Amanai
    • Visual: M.Nagashima, F.Mitsuji, K.Nemoto
    • Audio: Y.Tomuro
    • Map Design: K.Matsunaga, K.Nemoto, F.Mitsuji
    In-game credits (hidden credits)
    MagicalPuzzlePopils GG JP AltCredits.png

    Magazine articles

    Main article: Magical Puzzle Popils/Magazine articles.

    Promotional material

    Print advert in Beep! MegaDrive (JP) #1991-08: "August 1991" (1991-07-08)
    Print advert in Beep! MegaDrive (JP) #1992-03: "March 1992" (1992-02-08)
    also published in:
    Print advert in Beep! MegaDrive (JP) #1992-07: "July 1992" (1992-06-08)
    Print advert in Computer & Video Games (UK) #131: "October 1992" (1992-09-15)
    Print advert in Mega Force (ES) #11: "Marzo 1993" (1993-xx-xx)
    also published in:

    Physical scans

    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Score Source
    {{{{{icon}}}|L}} Division by zero.
    Based on
    0 review
    Sega Retro Average 
    Publication Version Score
    Beep! MegaDrive (JP) NTSC-J
    Consoles + (FR)
    Computer & Video Games (UK)
    GamePro (US) NTSC-U
    Gamers (DE)
    Game Informer (US) NTSC-U
    Game Zone (UK) NTSC
    Game Zone (UK)
    Hippon Super (JP) NTSC-J
    Hobby Consolas (ES)
    Joypad (FR)
    Joystick (FR)
    Joystick (FR) PAL
    Megablast (DE)
    Player One (FR)
    Play Time (DE)
    Power Play (DE)
    Sega Power (UK) NTSC-J
    Sega Pro (UK) PAL
    Sega Pro (UK) PAL
    Sega Force (SE)
    Sega Force (UK) PAL
    Sega Saturn Magazine (JP) NTSC-J
    Supersonic (FR)
    Tilt (FR)
    User (GR) PAL
    Video Games (DE)
    Zero (UK)
    Sega Game Gear
    Based on
    28 reviews

    Magical Puzzle Popils

    Game Gear, JP
    Popils GG JP Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngPopils GG JP Box Front.jpg
    Popils GG JP Cart.jpg
    Magical Puzzle Popils GG JP Manual.pdf
    Game Gear, US
    Popils GG US Box Back.jpgNospine.pngPopils GG US Box Front.jpg
    Magical Puzzle Popils GG US Manual.pdf
    Game Gear, EU
    Popils GG EU Box Back.jpgPopils (EURO) Side.jpgPopils GG EU Box Front.jpg
    Popils GG EU Cart.jpg
    Magical Puzzle Popils GG EU Manual.pdf

    Technical information

    The game will restart as the last level completed with automatic battery backed saves.

    The level editor feature allows for the creation and storage of 30 user levels.

    ROM dump status

    System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
    Sega Game Gear
    CRC32 cf6d7bc5
    MD5 e496ff2196c372f4d6111538950d25ca
    SHA-1 fb939f0810d0763b9abaeec1a2bfbabacaad5441
    128kB 199X Cartridge 8KB backup


    NEC Retro has more information related to Magical Puzzle Popils
    1. File:Popils GG EU Box Back.jpg
    2. 2.0 2.1 (Wayback Machine: 2013-01-01 20:24)
    3. Beep! MegaDrive, "August 1991" (JP; 1991-07-08), page 12
    4. 4.0 4.1 GamePro, "April 1992" (US; 1992-xx-xx), page 76
    5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Computer Trade Weekly, "" (UK; 1992-09-28), page 6
    6. (Wayback Machine: 2016-08-03 17:51)
    7. File:Magical Puzzle Popils GG JP Manual.pdf, page 2
    9. File:MagicalPuzzlePopils GG JP AltCredits.png
    10. Beep! MegaDrive, "April 1992" (JP; 1992-03-07), page 20
    11. Hobby Consolas, "Marzo 1993" (ES; 1993-xx-xx), page 29
    12. Todo Sega, "Abril 1993" (ES; 1993-03-15), page 2
    13. Micromanía (segunda época), "Abril 1993" (ES; 1993-0x-xx), page 2
    14. Beep! MegaDrive, "August 1991" (JP; 1991-07-08), page 36
    15. Consoles +, "Septembre 1991" (FR; 1991-09-04), page 113
    16. Computer & Video Games, "May 1992 (Go! Issue 7)" (UK; 1992-04-15), page 22
    17. Gamers, "Dezember/Januar 1993" (DE; 1992-11-19), page 83
    18. Game Informer, "Summer 1992" (US; 1992-0x-xx), page 6
    19. Game Zone, "April 1992" (UK; 1992-03-20), page 53
    20. Game Zone, "October 1992" (UK; 1992-09-24), page 56
    21. Hippon Super, "July 1991" (JP; 1991-06-04), page 114
    22. Hobby Consolas, "Noviembre 1992" (ES; 1992-xx-xx), page 90
    23. Joypad, "Novembre 1992" (FR; 1992-1x-xx), page 150
    24. Joystick, "Septembre 1991" (FR; 1991-0x-xx), page 173
    25. Joystick, "Décembre 1992" (FR; 1992-1x-xx), page 196
    26. Megablast, "4/93" (DE; 1993-09-29), page 100
    27. Player One, "Novembre 1992" (FR; 1992-11-10), page 129
    28. Play Time, "11/92" (DE; 1992-10-07), page 91
    29. Power Play, "12/91" (DE; 1991-11-13), page 179
    30. Sega Power, "May 1992" (UK; 1992-04-02), page 46
    31. Sega Pro, "August 1992" (UK; 1992-07-16), page 38
    32. Sega Pro, "April 1993" (UK; 1993-03-11), page 74
    33. Sega Force, "6/93" (SE; 1993-09-30), page 27
    34. Sega Force, "September 1992" (UK; 1992-08-13), page 72
    35. Sega Saturn Magazine, "September 1995" (JP; 1995-08-08), page 88
    36. Supersonic, "Novembre 1992" (FR; 1992-xx-xx), page 27
    37. Tilt, "Décembre 1991" (FR; 1991-1x-xx), page 72
    38. User, "Aprílios 1993" (GR; 1993-0x-xx), page 50
    39. Video Games, "4/91" (DE; 1991-12-06), page 92
    40. Zero, "September 1992" (UK; 1992-08-13), page 80

    Magical Puzzle Popils

    MagicalPuzzlePopils title.png

    Main page | Maps | Hidden content | Magazine articles | Reception

    No results