REVIEW: “DropMix” merges tech and music into a magical card game

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  • reviewed on iOS / rated 16+ / $99.99 / released September 2017
  • FINAL: You NEED this game. 5 out of 5 stars

“DropMix,” a new hybrid card and app game from the people that made “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band,” has to be seen to be believed. Or, more accurately, has to be heard.

“DropMix” consists of a Bluetooth-enabled game board, a (free to download) app for your phone or tablet, and hundreds of microchipped playing cards. Each card represents a particular portion of a song, and when placed on the board, triggers the app to play that riff. As you add more cards to the mix, the app smooths everything together, even going as far as to adjust the tempo and key.

So if you want to hear Run-DMC’s vocals for “It’s Tricky” accompanied by the strings from Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” and Ricky Martin’s horn section, plus a little Skrillex and Sean Paul on the side… then “DropMix” has you covered.

This is actually a really good mix, by the way. Check it out:

It is astonishing how well it works. Whether you're playing the game or just experimenting, “DropMix” mixes everything on the fly, as fast as you can drop cards on the chunky, light-up base. The ability of “DropMix” to deliver decent-sounding tunes no matter what absurd mash-up you attempt is wildly impressive.

The app itself is very classy. Social sharing tools are included, plus you can save your favorite mixes. Viewed from above, it's clear that “DropMix” has a solid guiding artistic vision, as the cards and app mesh together to form a hip, modern look. (And don't overlook the unique new artwork found on every card, which adds serious juice to the game's creative mojo.)

The tech works like magic, but what about the game? At the core, it's about matching colors to one-up your opponent; you do not need to know anything about music to play the game. The music part just happens, which elevates a relatively simple card game into something truly memorable. While playing, you instead focus on playing your cards into the five available slots according to color. You earn points according to cards played, and the first side to reach 21 points wins. “DropMix” also has a cooperative game mode where everybody works together to play specific cards and land a high score.

Each player in a “DropMix” game uses their own personal deck of 15 to 30 cards. These little decks are pre-built around genres like hip-hop, pop and dance. Advanced players can try to rearrange the decks into a brand new assortment, but most people will be fine playing the decks as they are. The $100 core “DropMix” set comes with 60 cards, which is enough to support a four person match. Additional cards can be purchased in $15 “playlist” packs of 16 cards or in $5 “discovery” packs of 5 cards. (Collectors note: the “discovery” packs are not a random assortment as with many other collectible card games, so you do not have to keep buying blind to assemble a full set.)

That price is the albatross around the game's neck, because $100 is a tough buy-in, even for something as slick as “DropMix.” If you want every additional card, it's going to add up quickly. “DropMix” lives at the crossroads of app-based tech games (expensive!) and collectible card games (also expensive!), but it's rare that something manages to bridge both of those worlds and be an easy-to-learn family-friendly crowdpleaser as well.

The “DropMix” app is available for iOS and Android, and it is required to play. Images courtesy Hasbro.

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