I’m taking a brief break from video games to share with you, fellow readers, about the coolest Christmas gift this past season that barely anyone knows about. Considering it’s made by Harmonix (and Hasbro), I’d say it still counts. In all seriousness, “DropMix” has made me feel like a kid during the holidays for the first time in as long as I can remember. It’s that much fun, especially if you’re a fan of music.
So exactly what is DropMix, you ask? At its core, it’s a device that allows you to combine various components of popular music into a single song. After downloading an app on your phone or tablet, you use said device in conjunction with the game board. The game comes with a starter pack of sixty playing cards, each of which represents a specific song. Not only that, but it represents only one portion of that song: either percussion, bass, melody, or vocals. Each card has a chip inside that the DropMix board reads when you lay a card on one of the five spots on top. As if by magic, your phone or tablet will start to play just that part of the song you chose.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the fun you’re about to have. The real excitement happens when you lay down additional cards. DropMix automatically adjusts the pitch and BPM (beats per minute) to match the first piece of music you previously dropped. In essence, you’re making mashups of different pieces of songs into one “super song”. With five available slots on the board, the combinations are seemingly endless, as is the fun.
The best part about DropMix is that anyone can do it. You require literally zero musical ability. If you can place a card on a board, you’re ready to play this game. It really is that simple. In fact, it’s so simple, that I had my wife’s grandmother playing it with us on Christmas Day; and she loved it! True story.
Outside of the beauty of making your own musical mixes, there’s a game buried underneath as well. There are three modes of play available: Freestyle, Clash, and Party. I’ll explain each separately.
Freestyle Mode in DropMix is exactly what it sounds like. You have the freedom to be as creative as you want with mixes, adding/removing songs to find out what works well together. Surprisingly, it’s more difficult to find mashups that don’t work than ones that do. The best part is that you can save your mixes to your app and share them with your friends. Unfortunately, I haven’t figure out a way to export your mixes to an MP3 or other such format. As fun as it would be to be able to listen to your own mixes anywhere, I have to assume that there’s licensing issues involved. Regardless, this is the meat and potatoes of this game and where I’ve spent the majority of my time.
The second mode available in DropMix is called “Clash” mode, and it actually plays as a competitive game. You can play one-on-one against a friend or team up with teams of two. This game is basically a score chase; the first player or team to reach 21 points wins. Players score points for each new song they add to the mix, and an additional point for adding a new component to the mix. In other words, if the mix already has percussion, adding a second percussion card to the mix will not score a bonus point.
The game gets a bit more complicated once all five spaces are filled with cards. Now players have an opportunity to lay cards on top of others. This replaces the song below it with the new one. The one catch, however, is that you may only play a card of equal or greater value on top of another. This is where the strategy comes in, as you want to keep your opponent away from scoring opportunities.
Furthermore, players may choose to hit the “DropMix” button on the board. This starts a spinner on the phone or tablet being used, and random stacks of cards must be removed from play. It adds another fun element of luck to the game to mix things up a bit.
Keep in mind, while all of this is going on, there’s constantly a random mix of music playing through your speakers while you play. Not only is the game very clever, but it’s a great way to experiment with different combinations of songs. I found myself taking notes while playing Versus Mode to use later in Freestyle Mode.
The final game mode is DropMix is called “Party Mode”. This is a team game, where any number of players work together to follow instructions on your device. Basically, this mode is supposed to simulate being a real DJ, giving the crowd exactly what they want. The crowd may ask for a vocal track, and points are awarded based on how quickly a vocal card is played. Other variations of this mechanic are repeated until the song is over and points are tallied. The goal is to get the highest score possible. No real competition is present here other than against your previous score; it’s just fun to see how high of a score you and your team can rack up in a certain number of time.
“DropMix” Final Verdict
If it’s not obvious already, I’m having an absolute blast with this game. I look forward to opportunities to introduce new people to DropMix whenever I can. It’s a ton of fun to see the expressions on people’s faces when they see it in action. I can’t recommend this “toy” enough, even if you only have a mild interest in music. It’s a game that I hope continues to get support in the future, because it has so much potential to be even better. In the mean time, do not hesitate. If I could guarantee your smile, I totally would.
Dropmix is available at most retailers for a MSRP of $99.99, which additional 15-card packs available for $14.99 each. This review is based on a purchased copy of the gaming system.