Money Idol Exchanger (known outside of Japan as Money Puzzle Exchanger) is a tile-matching puzzle game developed and released by Face for arcades (running Neo Geo MVS hardware) exclusive to Japan on January 17, 1997.
In this parody of the "magical girl" genre, players must arrange tiles of coins (in a similar fashion to Data East's Magical Drop series) to convert their denominations and clear them from the board (in a similar fashion to Fujitsu's Moujiya series). Although the game was never released outside of Japan, it has English localization built-in (which is shown when the cartridge is used on international Neo Geo MVS boards).
It was later ported to the Game Boy (on August 29, 1997) and Sony PlayStation (on November 5, 1998), both released exclusively in Japan by Athena. The PS1 version was later digitally re-released via PlayStation Network on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable in February 13, 2008, and was released in North America (as an import title) by MonkeyPaw on November 16, 2010.
Due to its similarities with the Magical Drop series, the developers faced a lawsuit from Data East for copyright infringement.
The game features 8 different types of "blocks": 6 types based on Japanese coinage and 2 special blocks. Coins of the same denomination can be chained to convert them to coins of higher value; for example, if you place two 5 yen coins next to each other they will become a 10 yen coin, while 5 10 yen coins will convert to a 50 yen coin. This pattern continues up to 500 yen coins; two five-hundred yen coins placed next to each other will disappear, helping to clear the player's side and pushing down the coins on the opponent's side. If at any time coins touch the bottom of the screen, the player loses. As an additional note, any extra coins of the same type included in a chain (say you use 7 10 yen coins, equaling a total of 70 yen) will simply vanish, and you will get a 50 yen piece in return; As this is worth a score bonus, this makes for efficient clearing and scoring!
As a side note, there are apparently some gameplay differences between the versions with slightly different titles; in one version the characters are all identical in traits except appearance; in the other they push the opponent's pieces down in different manners, ala Magical Drop.
- 1 yen coin
- 5 yen coin
- 10 yen coin
- 50 yen coin
- 100 yen coin
- 500 yen coin
There are also two types of special blocks that have special effects on the playing area.
ER Block: ER stands for "erase", and this blue ball does exactly that. When grabbed and thrown, it will erase any of the same types of coinage it touches that are on the screen.
RU: RU stands for "rank up". These greenish balls will turn all coins of the value it touches to the next value up (ex., 100 yen coins will all become 500 yen coins!).
The game features three modes of play: Story Mode, Solo Play, and Versus Play. Story mode simply goes through a character's story as you beat opponents; solo play is an endless mode where the player simply tries to clear coins for as long as they possibly can. Versus play allows a player to challenge another player to a match.
Note: Only Sakura and Asahi are playable in story mode. All the other characters (members of the "Money Sisterhood") are usable in vs. mode. Most of the character's names are references to forms of currency or famous Japanese banks.
- Likes: Depositing money, her balance
- Dislikes: Manual labor, repayment
- Hobbies: Saving money
She is a 17 year-old second year student at Kisaragi Girl's High School and the daughter of a bank president. She, like a number of other characters in the game, is a parody of the "magical girl" genre, specifically sailor moon in this case.
- Likes: Dogs, cats, and birds.
- Dislikes: Her own personality
- Hobbies: Financing
She is Sakura's friend. She is shy and introverted, but is a good person who freely lends money to others. She is also secretly the pretty soldier Debtmiser.
The youngest child of the Bank Concern. He is severely overworked by his older sister, Note Bank. For some inscrutable reason he's dressed as a dog. Unlike the other characters, he doesn't have a full profile.
- Likes: Plush toys
- Dislikes: Vegetables
- Hobbies: Deceiving people
She seems nice, but is a liar. She is also a student at Kisaragi Girl's High, and has bought out a toy shop named "Moneysaurus" for her own amusement.
- Likes: Training, sweat, and working hard
- Dislikes: Weak people
- Hobbies: Exercise and working
Yet another student at Kisaragi High, she loves sports and is a hard worker. She's only really a member of the Money Sisterhood for convenience. She also works at a 24 hour convenience store, "Moneymart".
- Likes: Solving problems
- Dislikes: insanity and whips
- Hobbies: Browsing the internet
Unsurprisingly, a student at Kisaragi. She likes to study, and really doesn't like her transformation at all.
A half-Russian teacher at Kisaragi Girl's Highschool. He found out what the girls were up to and wanted in on the action, as he thought it looked fun; he transforms in to the hero for justice, Mackermocally! For some reason he develops a strong kansai-ben when he transforms.
- Likes: Jewelry
- Dislikes: People who fail her
- Hobbies: Fashion
The leader of the Bank Concern and Bill's older sister. She plans to ruin the world's coin market for her own personal gain. She gets very angry when people overestimate her age (she's 20) and is in love with Blibov.
A character who is obviously one of the famous kofun era ceramic figurines. He's a reference to a number of earlier Face games which featured a haniwa as the protagonist, notably "Hani in the Sky". He appears in the training mode in home ports.
Strategy & Character Differences
Each player receives the same pattern of coins at the beginning of the match; this will continue until one player scores against the opponent. The deviations of what pieces are pushed down onto each player's field is determined by the opposing player's character choice.
Each character has an predetermined pattern which becomes visible on the opponent's board as chains and points are scored against said opponent.
As a general rule of thumb, the first row of four characters produce simple patterns, which allow for a player to quickly regain their footing and can lead to a quick turnaround due to their cascading nature. The second row of character's patterns are more intricate, and have less of the same coin stacked in rows, challenging players with difficult patterns to manipulate and redistribute.
The easiest way to test this is to map both P1 & P2 controls to the same configuration with different characters. While both patterns of coins begin the same, as one character begins to clear their board, the patterns pushed down upon the opponent will differ, and begin to follow the structure of the character specific patterns below. The character to whom the pattern belongs is on the left, the pattern to the right.
Distinct Feature: Cross of 10 yen coins surrounded by 1's.
Distinct Feature: Vertical Rows.
Distinct Feature: Horizontal Rows of 3 & Same Coin w/ Vertical Offset of 1.
Distinct Feature: Pyramid-Esque Central Based Stucture
Distinct Feature: Diagonal Rows of 1's & 10's w/ Columns of 5's & 50's in rows 2 & 6.
Distinct Feature: 10's on rows 2 & 6 w/ 1's on rows 3 & 5. 1's also Form Inward Sloping Diagonal.
Distinct Feature: Horizontal Row's Of alternating patterns:
1's & 10's 100's & 50's w/ 5 Yen Center 50's 5's 10's w/ 1 Yen Center
Distinct Feature: Offset Inward Sloping Diagonals
Centralized Horizontal Line of Alternating 50's & 5's
One must imagine there are much more subtle cascading patterns a keen puzzle savvy player may be able to recognize which were not noted as a distinct feature; this information is simply a brief overview meant to document these character specific pattern traits.
The application of this knowledge is a rather obtuse exercise, so simply knowing these patterns should not guarantee an easy win. It will however, allow a player to discern what difficulty they should be expecting, based on their opponent's character choice.
The most practical application of this information, when playing this game with another person, is to state outright that the top row of characters are easier to deal with than the bottom. For a fair or balanced experience, both players should opt to play characters of the same row. Conversely, if a player would like to introduce the game to someone new, inform the opponent to pick a bottom row character, while player one picks a top row character. This will handicap player one's ability to deal with the opponent's more complex patterns, while allowing the opponent to chain off of play one's character patterns with far less difficulty.