Music mashup creators work long and hard stripping down popular songs into their component elements and then weaving them together into compelling new tracks. Dropmix, the new mobile-connect game from Hasbro and Harmonix, makes this as easy as shuffling cards.
The $US99 ($124) Dropmix starter kit comes with an electronic board with spots for five cards and a stand for whichever iOS or Android device players choose to connect.
It also comes with 60 cards, each featuring a track (or multiple tracks) from popular songs across a variety of genres. I've got cards representing the drums, bass, lead, keyboards and vocals of songs from Carly Rae Jepsen, Disturbed, Run D.M.C., Ricky Martin, Childish Gambino, Sia — it's a really diverse selection, right out of the box.
The cards are very pretty, but what they do when placed on the board during one of Dropmix's three modes — Clash, Party or Freestyle — is beautiful.
In the simplest of the three modes, Freestyle, the player or players can place any of the cards included in the game or purchased separately in boosters or playlist packs on the board, as long as the card colour matches the board slot. As soon as a card is dropped, it's added to the mix and begins playing on the Dropmix app. Add another card, and it blends in seamlessly. Lay a card over another, and it replaces that track with its own. It's like music magic.
Cards have three power levels (represented by the ascending bars on top of the tracks). Dropping a more powerful card into the mix might change the key or tempo of the results, or players can opt to shift key and tempo on their own. If a particular arrangement strikes their fancy, players can save it to their device for playback through the app at any time.
It's really amazing how well it all works. The near-field communication technology at work here has performed flawlessly. Dropping cards to manipulate music is much more compelling than I thought it would be when Dropmix was announced earlier this year. I spent three hours after my initial unboxing in Freestyle mode, just dropping cardstock beats to see what I could come up with. Check it out:
The competitive modes use the same basic card-dropping mechanic, only with rules and points. In Clash, two to four players make decks and take turns dropping cards for points. Tracks can only be overwritten by those of equal or greater power.
Grabbing spots with powerful tracks is important, but if a team plays all of their strongest cards early on, they will be at the mercy of an opponent who saved the best for last.
Then there's Party mode, in which players make decks, draw cards and attempt to drop the cards requested by the game on the board as quickly as possible. The faster the correct card is dropped, the more points are awarded.
Place the wrong card, and points are taken away. It can get a little frantic (especially when half of the players are a little tipsy), but it's a blast.
Blue card. Any blue card. Come on, blue card.
Dropmix is a game that's all about making beautiful music, alone or together with friends. The only requirements to have a good time are a set of external speakers (or headphones for the solo player) and an appreciation for music. Even bad music.