Money Puzzle Exchanger is the sort of game where someone can come to the ACA NeoGeo version and think something is missing. With people in odd costumes and magical girls facing off in battles, it seems like there should be some sort of story. Here is the thing: it has a story. The PlayStation version of the game has a story mode where people can play as either Sakura “Exchanger” Mitsukoshi or Asahi “Debtmiser” Takashima. Its ridiculous nature can help the rest of the game make sense.
The events of Money Puzzle Exchanger involve a group of students from the Kisaragi High School for Girls. Sakura and Asahi are best friends who have different monetary quirks. Sakura is good at helping managing money, while Asahi is known for lending it to other people. They get involved with stopping a scheme headed up by Note “Mightdealer” Bank, who wants to rearrange the markets in such a way that she gets rich at other people’s expense.
Now, despite Mightdealer being an adult, a number of her minions also happen to be Kisaragi High School students. Some, like Lulula “Cherrybeiter” Franc and Cecil “Eldylabor” Pound, more willingly participate in the villainous activities. Others, like Bill “Coquetrybouncer” Bank and En “Everyworker” Arashizaki, find themselves getting caught up in the schemes because they are related to the boss (Bill) or are broke (En). In the PlayStation version of the game, there are actually extended story segments between each match explaining how Sakura or Asahi encounters one of these people in their ordinary, daily lives and what altercation prompts the transformations and fights.
With the extended version, we get to see how Money Puzzle Exchanger pays tribute to magical girl series like Sailor Moon. This is evidenced by Sakata “Mackermocally” Blibov. He, like Bill, is one of the few male characters. This is because he is a Kisaragi teacher who happens to see what Sakura and Asahi are up to. In response, Blibov becomes a Tuxedo Mask-style hero trying to join them in fighting for justice.
While the lack of context is one downside of missing this mode in the ACA NeoGeo Money Puzzle Exchanger release, there are other downsides. The story mode points out how this is a genuinely funny release. When Sakura encounters En for the first time at her part-time job in a convenience store, she ends up unintentionally frustrating her to the point that En transforms into Everyworker to beat her up. Blibov gets frustrated by the girls’ dismissive attitude and, when he changes into Mackermocally, completely changes his personality.
Unfortunately, Money Puzzle Exchanger’s story is an element not everyone gets to enjoy. The ACA NeoGeo release is based upon the arcade version of the game, which did not have this mode. The only way to find out how Exchanger and Debtmiser protected people’s money is to find a PlayStation copy of the game. Seeing as how MonkeyPaw only briefly offered the import version of the game on the PlayStation Store outside of Japan, people who want a little more insight into this puzzle game’s world need to search a bit harder to see the duo challenge Mightdealer and save the day.