DropMix (Electronic Toy)

DropMix makes a game out of the role of a DJ. Players drop music track cards into slots on the board, mixing their sounds together to make new remixes of their own. Players compete or cooperate while playing a matching game to create new sound mixes. While the game doesn’t have much depth, the fun in the system lies with messing around with different combinations of the available tracks. As a game, DropMix is so-so, but for music fans it can be a fun and interesting toy.

The base DropMix game consists of a card-reader platform with five color-coded slots, plus 60 different sound mix cards that come in four themes: Pop, Rock, Hip-Hop, and Dance/Electronic. Players must download the DropMix app and then sync up (via Bluetooth) their phones (or tablets) to the platform. The platform has a handy slot to hold a phone or tablet so that it can be seen during play. When a card is placed into one of the five slots, the NFC chip contained in the card is read by the board and triggers the app to start playing that particular track. Slots on the board and cards have a color which roughly corresponds to a particular type of track. Yellow are lead melodies (typically vocals), blue are percussion, green are harmonies, and red cards are melodies. Some cards are wild (change depending on the slot) and other cards are white (which add special effects.) The platform does a surprisingly good job of quickly reading the cards, even if the cards are stacked 10 deep (only the top card will be mixed into the track.)

The “game” has three modes of play. The first is freeform where one can mix and match cards to form your own favorite beat. In this mode, the colors for the slots on the platform don’t matter and you can add together any card track that you want. On the app screen you can even change the key or the tempo of the song.

The competitive and cooperative game modes make use of the colors associated with each slot on the platform. Players each start with a deck of cards and draw a small handful to start. Once the game starts it will ask players to place a specific type (color) of card onto the playing field, scoring points for how quickly you are able to respond, and losing points if you are too slow or make a mistake in location or intensity level. Each slot on the board has one or two colors and cards must always be played on a slot of the correct color. In addition to color, each card has an intensity value (1 to 3, symbolized by stripes in the top left corner of the card) and cards can only be played on top of a card of the same or lower intensity (the board can read stacks many cards thick.) To prevent a buildup of cards over time, the game will sometimes have players take off specific cards (all cards of a specific intensity, for example) which will clear new spaces on the board.

In cooperative mode, all the players are trying to respond to the commands from the game, scoring points for quick and accurate placement of the cards required. The competitive mode has players or teams alternating placement of cards to score points. Player can play cards or try to remove an opponent’s cards (causing them to lose points.) The first player or team to 21 points wins.

As one would expect with a game based on music, there are expansions to be had. Playlist Packs of 16 cards are available that contain cards along a general theme (Pop, Rock, etc…) and then Discover Packs of 5 cards (released in sets of 6 packs for a total of 30 cards in the set) contain a bit of everything. New packs do not bring new game modes, they simply add in new music tracks to add to the possible mixes.

I’m musically inclined (playing several different instruments) but not one who listens to a lot of current music. This limits my familiarity with the various soundtracks, even so I recognized many of them. Drawn from many different time periods (well, the hip-hop ones are more recent of course), there should be something there for everyone. The games (co-op and competitive) aren’t particularly deep, but serve as a good excuse to create different music mixes as a group effort. All in all, it is an enjoyable experience in a party or small group setting. I am far less likely to mess around with it on my own.

The game platform does not have a screen nor a speaker, so it needs to connect over bluetooth to a phone or tablet. It also helps greatly to have an external speaker unless your phone/tablet is crazy loud. While I initially did not have difficulty getting everything set up my first couple plays, my most recent play was quite frustrating as I attempted to get the platform to link up to my phone (or my wife’s phone, or my iPad.) I eventually got it running, but it was a frustrating 10 or 15 minutes of effort.

Is the game worth the time, effort, and cash? It is a unique experience, and one that audiophiles may find quite entertaining. You can even use the app to save mixes that you create. Feel like a personalized ringtone that mashes up the Dr. Who theme with Imagine Dragons? Go for it! Best thought of as a toy than a true game, DropMix serves up something you can’t really find anywhere else – an easy peasy lemon squeezy way to experience the world of DJ mixing for yourself.

Kid Factor
DropMix is simple to set up and use. As such, it could be played by almost any age. In freeform you can slap down cards anywhere. To play the games, all one must do is to match colors and count the intensity levels (from 1 to 3 bars.) However, I do have to caution parents as the mix of music is not curated to be entirely family friendly. As one might expect from modern rock, pop, or hip-hop music there are going to be some suggestive lyrics going on. I never encountered profanity, but there is plenty of innuendo to be found in the lyrics. Ironically, a younger age player may have the advantage of being oblivious to the suggestive lyrics. Obviously, this is only an issue for the vocal sections, and one could go through and try to take out any vocal sections one finds objectionable. This will limit gameplay somewhat (fewer vocal tracks) but shouldn’t be too big a deal, especially if your basic selection of cards are supplemented with one or more of the expansions.

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