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For: iPad   Also on: Android, iPhone, Ouya


Product: Dropchord | Developer: Double Fine | Publisher: Double Fine | Format: iPad | Genre: Arcade, Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Dropchord iPad, thumbnail 1
Rhythm games always sound quite silly when you describe what you do.

"'ere mate, I've got this brilliant new game. You've got a plastic guitar, and you press brightly coloured buttons in time to some falling rectangles on the screen".

The exact same thing happens when you try to explain the ins and outs of Dropchord: in this game, you hold two thumbs on either side of a circle. This creates a line that strikes through the shape, and you can move it about by dragging your pinkies about the circumference.

You'll then use this line to collect glowing dots, but avoid spiky red enemies. See? It sounds goofy.

Do the D A N C E

So if you want to talk about rhythm games, you have to talk about how they make you feel. About how click-clacking through ‘Jordan' on expert makes you feel like a bonafide rock god. Or how good it feels to spin the deck on DJ Hero, nail a tricky beat on Rock Band drums, or belt out some Beyonce on Singstar without getting funny looks.

Sadly, Dropchord does not make you feel like that. You do not feel like a rock god or a superstar singer or even Skrillex. You feel like a berk twiddling his fingers about on an iPad while some unrelated club anthem plays in the background.

That's because it quickly becomes a series of basic quick-fire puzzles, where you have to make a line touch some circles without accidentally touching some red things. It has very little to do with the rhythm of the song, and becomes very repetitive, very quickly.

Around the world

Plus, lots of nuisance niggles conspire to make the game more annoying than fun. A late game power-up where you can spin your line around like a maniac is rather unpredictable and is the leading cause of my death in Dropchord.

Plus, sometimes enemies appear underneath your hands and murder you. And, on the iPhone version at least, some of the tap targets are so small they're practically impossible to hit.

It also doesn't help that the frame-rate on my iPad 3 gets bogged down during the outlandish bonus stages (which look like one of Jeff Minter's fever dreams), turning the game into a (very pretty) slide show.

One more time

The only redeeming feature of Dropchord is the music. It's a fantastic mix of jumping anthems and synth-heavy electro-funk. It's a bit Justice, a bit Discovery-era Daft Punk, and a bit generic summer party hit you heard on an advert once.

But mute your iPad and you end up with a fiddly and frustrating little game. Maybe it's really fun on Leap Motion - the wavy-hand Kinect-alike that Dropchord was originally designed for. But on iOS, it just falls flat.

Ultimately, the only thing Dropchord makes you feel is mild rage and bitter resentment.
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 1 August 2013
Dropchord's thumping soundtrack hides a rather frustrating and repetitive game that just doesn't feel that satisfying to play
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