Mixed Messages (DSiWare)

Game Review

Mixed Messages Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Corbie Dillard

Activision's DSiWare debut leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Mixed Messages could be classified more as an experience than an actual game, since there's actually no clearly-defined goal. You basically just alternate typing sentences and drawing pictures to try to match each other in an attempt to keep the original message intact. As you can probably tell from the title of the game, that's generally not what happens. In fact, the more players that take part in the game, the more mixed up the ending message generally turns out to be. And while that's supposed to be what makes the game so much fun, it ultimately ends up making the entire experience more tedious than anything else.

Up to 21 players can take part in Mixed Messages, with players taking turns passing the DS system around to each other. The first player writes a sentence and then passes the DS system to the next player. This player then has to draw a picture based on the first player's sentence. The DS is then passed on to the next player who must come up with a sentence that matches the picture the second player drew. This process repeats through as many players as are available and then the game puts everything together and allows you to scroll through the entire creation to see how mixed up the original message became throughout the entire process. Fun, right?

There's really not much to each function. Typing the sentence in is basically accomplished via a tiny touchscreen keyboard similar to the one that's used by the DS operating system itself. The drawing function isn't much more complicated, as it's basically just a handful of drawing tools that include a thin pencil, a thick pencil, two erasers, and a trash can tool. While it might have been nice to have access to at least a few colors, in truth, it probably wouldn't have helped the overall experience anyway. The lack of any type of goal just makes playing the game feel pointless and doesn't really give the player(s) anything to look forward to at the end of the entire process.

The visuals in Mixed Messages are pretty much what you make them. The majority of the presentation is text-based, with a set of alphanumeric keys to type in your sentence and a handful of basic art tools to draw the pictures with. If you're rather artistic, you might be able to get some impressive artwork out of the package, but for most of us non-artistic talents, the experience will be laughable at best. As with many DSiWare titles we've seen to date, Mixed Messages' visual presentation is somewhat on the lightweight side.

You'll get to know the music in Mixed Messages quite well since there is only one variation that basically repeats itself off and on throughout the entire experience. It sounds like a tune that might have been rejected from an earlier Crash Bandicoot title and doesn't seem to fit in with what's going on in this title whatsoever. It's also so short in length that it repeats early and often. If you have any type of hearing at all, you'll likely turn the volume down on this one after only a few minutes of play. It's honestly that repetitive and grating.


We'd love to say that Mixed Messages becomes more fun with more people playing, but the simple truth is that it only makes the wait for the inevitable outcome even longer and more excruciating. About the only advantage to having more players is that it will give you more time to forget about how insignificant your meager contribution to the overall experience truly was. That is unless you're the last player to have a turn and in that case, you have our sympathies.

From the web

User Comments (61)



Kenji510 said:

Wow, look at that people, a freakin 2 star rating and see why we got this stupid DSiWare game as well... we couldve got something better like Moving Memo, Paper Aeroplane, Artstyle DECODE or Dr. Mario... now we got to wait next week on the 20th and we better get something good this time and i mean something good and better.



Corbs said:

I took this game up to my niece's school band rehearsal and got about 17 people to play along. Only 8 actually stuck around to see the end result and when I asked these 8 people what they thought of the game, I couldn't even repeat the things they said about it, not to mention that not one person said they'd buy it, even for the mere 500 Nintendo Points it costs. In fact, I had better luck doing the silly card trick in Master of Illusion with these people than this game.



KDR_11k said:

Kenji: Stop complaining, the last DSiWare update in Europe was NOTHING. We got NOTHING at all last Friday. Would you rather have that?



i8cookie said:

why pay for something you can do more easily on a piece of paper? if you buy this you are a total mug!



MarkyVigoroth said:

i8cookie, I agree, yet I was thinking more on Pictochat. Pictochat lets you do pretty much the same thing, you do not have to pass the DS around (but rather have everyone use his own DS), and such does not have the allegedly-annoying (never heard such) music!



Pikamander2 said:

Judging by IGN's review and score, I don't think they even played the game.

This review goes into much greater detail.



Hardy83 said:

"Kenji: Stop complaining, the last DSiWare update in Europe was NOTHING. We got NOTHING at all last Friday. Would you rather have that?"

Well... If you consider how crap the games has been, you can view NA releases as nothing as well if you want, so you have our sympathies.

I'm extremely dissapointed with DSiWare right now.
Yeah, you can say the old "give it time" thing, but Nintendo made their mistakes on Wiiware. There's no excuse for them to botch this on so badly.



Dazza said:

@KnucklesSonic8 - You are complaining about the review score before you even played the game for yourself?

Post #3. I took this game up to my niece's school band rehearsal and got about 17 people to play along.

It's not like Corbie hasn't playtested this game properly in order to determine the worth of this game. I think the reasons for the low score are well stated tbh.



WarioFan63 said:

I hate games like this. Mostly because of the polarizing opinions this is going to give now. Corbie's review shows that he didn't have fun with it but IGN's review shows that its possible for people to have fun with it. So therefore, I determine that this isn't a bad game, just one Corbie didn't like.



siavm said:

This review hits what I feel about this game. If you want to do this on your ds just use pictochat. It comes with the system and is better.



xDlmaoxD said:

I purchased all the DSiWare available a waste of money really.
This game is really freaking stupid.



Stuffgamer1 said:

A 2? High praise, imo. Shoulda gotten a 1 from the sound of the review, or a zero if possible.

IGN's review score is truly hilarious, though the text brings up some decent points. If the game really does save as you're going, it presents a user-friendly fallback plan that Pictochat does not (though paper does, of course). Their review also makes it clear that it's from the standpoint of what would work for casual gamers more than for hardcore geeks like us. But being as I'm one of the "us" and not the "them," I'll stick with Corbie's review for accuracy. Plus his field test disproves IGN's statements to a noteworthy point.

@Huperfludd: How long does it take to be extremely disappointed with the initial offerings? Hardy83 is right; Nintendo has no excuse for this botch-up.

@WolfRamHeart: Yes, that is the light over the horizon. If only we had some idea how long we'll have to wait for its release...



PaperToad said:

Geez, I can't really agree with Corbie here... perhaps he doesn't like it because maybe he can't draw?
Also, music only plays on the main menu, no place else.
This game should have at least 4 stars, in my opinion. =O



Cheezy said:

Well I'm getting my DSi this week so at least I won't have any catching up to do, since crap was released this week and nothing last week, that still only leaves the ones at launch. I gotta get just Wario Ware and Aquia.



SmaMan said:

I think two stars is generous for a "game" that you could pretty much play for free in PictoChat. Or even better, just paper and pencil.



Corbs said:

The music plays off and on throughout the entire process. It does stop while you actually type the sentence or draw the picture, but as soon as you click the checkmark it starts up again. And then every time you pass the DSi to the next person, there it goes again, all the way until they input their name and begin their task.



mjc0961 said:

Yeah, I figured this would just be Pictochat minus being able to scroll back up to see what was said earlier in the chat. And it figures IGN would give this an 8/10, only further driving home the point that they have absolutely no clue what they are talking about, ever. "Hyuk hyuk, we think buying this for $5 is a good idea, even though we could do it for free on Pictochat, or even better, on paper so we could post it to blogs like we wanted. reviewer starts drooling a little"

Why can't we get that awesome looking Paper Plane game that Japan and Europe already have?



StarDust4Ever said:

This is what happens when you try to take a classic pen and peper game and turn it into a video game - it's called pen and paper, people - makes an awesome party game - no DS required

I urge you to try out this game with some friends - just get a dozen or so pens and a pad of sticky notes is all you need - that's what we used - same rules apply, and people still get to look and laugh at all the hilareous results, even post some choice drawings on the fridge if you like - If someone in your party suggests using the DSi instead of wasting precious pens and paper, banish them



Corbs said:

I'm waiting for a DSiWare title where you get to watch paint dry or gaze upon a toilet as it fills back up with water after you've flushed it. Exciting stuff like that.



StarDust4Ever said:

Jeeze Nintedno - What'll you think of next? How about a game of Charades acted out on the Wii, holding two Wiimotes in your hands while standing on the Balance Board



warioswoods said:

Honestly, I don't believe this review is approaching the game in terms of its intentions. It's a very simple social idea for getting others to play with the DSi touchscreen for a quick amusing game, and only $5. I can easily imagine this being enjoyable on a road trip, just passing the DSi around the car (and no, pen and paper wouldn't work nearly as well as a brightly backlit touchscreen with easy erasing and undo built in); or in many other different settings where it could bring a quick laugh.

Pictochat's inclusion of some of the same features is irrelevant; if you're going to convince others to give this a go, you want to have an app that is tailored specifically to the task, so that you don't need to inform every player how to use the interface, not to scroll up and see the previous text, etc. Not to mention the absolutely crucial missing ability to undo your mistakes in Pictochat, and the fact that the final "review" after completing a round would not be nearly as enjoyable.

The amusing thing about this is that I generally despise IGN for their inability to judge software based on its intentions rather than on some limited idea of where gaming should be going, and oddly enough, their review was actually fairly even handed this time, while yours chastises the game for not being something it never intended to be.

I would actually like more unique software for the DSi that goes against the usual ideas of what a video game should be. For $5, adding a little app like this to your DSi menu is not a bad deal, so long as you know that you will eventually be in the right social setting in which to enjoy it.



Adamant said:

I completely agree with this review. I mean, what, it's 5$ for a program that allows you to draw and write a bit on the DS? It's markete as a "game" it provides instructions for, but there really isn't anything here you can't play with pen and paper.


What's next, a DS iteration of the game where one person draws some random lines on a paper, and the next person uses them as part of a picture?



Corbs said:

While there is the distinct possibility that I just don't "get" this game, neither did the 17 people I forced to play it for 20 minutes at my niece's school band rehearsal. In fact, the consensus was, "what is the point?" I agree. Even when the messages got completely mixed up at the end, it just wasn't that funny.

I couldn't even get half of these people to stick around for the end result. And those that did, personally asked me for that 20 minutes of their life back.

The amusing thing about this is that I generally despise IGN for their inability to judge software based on its intentions rather than on some limited idea of where gaming should be going, and oddly enough, their review was actually fairly even handed this time, while yours chastises the game for not being something it never intended to be.

You mean...fun?



warioswoods said:

You "forced" a large group of others to play a game that depends wholly upon what the players are willing to contribute (and also really benefits from a group of friends with some shared sense of humor), then used that as your basis for a rating?

Also, of course they asked for their 20 minutes back -- you never should have taken 20 minutes from them, for that implies that they just had to sit there while waiting for everyone else to take their turn. This is clearly not a game intended for that kind of play where everyone sits down together for one period of time, for that would obviously lead to a whole lot more time waiting than playing. The game would only work in certain situations where you can pass the DSi along while doing other things: perhaps at a gathering or party, having each person contribute then pass it along to someone else, or during a road trip, etc.

That's the most unbelievably inappropriate focus group testing I've ever heard mention of. The fairly widespread pencil and paper game this is based on would also fail miserably in that setting, and probably far more so due to the hassle of keeping up with all the bits of paper in the right order, gathering them for the final reveal, etc.

Before reviewing or convening test players, it pays to sit back and figure out how the software in question is meant to be used.



Corbs said:

Yes, I held everyone at gunpoint and forced them to play the game. I was only kidding about the "forced" part, but I did want them to stick around to see the ending in order to get their opinion of the experience. Otherwise, why bother asking them to take part in the game in the first place. I needed to get some feedback from a large group of people that weren't immediate family or close personal friends to make sure that my feelings regarding the game were warranted. No money changed hands and no one was injured in the taking of this little survey.

I think I know how to review video games, given my 10+ years doing so. This is a waste of $5, and no spin on that will change my opinion. I linked to the IGN review in order to give everyone a chance to hear another take on the game and that's really all I can do.



SmaMan said:

"That's the most unbelievably inappropriate focus group testing I've ever heard mention of."

Actually, that's the only kind focus group testing there is. You ask a group of people who are in the demographic the game was intended for, and they play it, and give you feedback. If they leave in the middle of it or are not interested in the result then that's a good sign that it isn't very fun... and last I checked, that's what ALL games are intended to be.

"Before reviewing or convening test players, it pays to sit back and figure out how the software in question is meant to be used."

Ok, let's sit back and figure that out. It's software that you buy for a game console. Game consoles are a means of entertainment for many people. Therefore, this software should be used for entertainment and fun. And according to Corbie's test results, it wasn't.



warioswoods said:

I was never implying that the "forcing" part was extreme, monetary, etc, but simply pointing out the fact that this is a game that depends entirely on how much the players are willing to contribute, so asking others to participate as a favor, and then taking their opinions after they've essentially been sitting around waiting for 20 minutes, makes no sense at all.

"I needed to get some feedback from a large group of people that weren't immediate family or close personal friends to make sure that my feelings regarding the game were warranted."

My argument is that the exact opposite is the case: this game (much like the paper game) can only be fun to any degree within a group of friends or family; it's not just that the message gets scrambled over time, it's all about that moment where you look at friend X and say, "you thought that thing in the corner was a cocker spaniel?" or "so that's your rendition of batman??"

I don't believe the game deserves an outstanding score like a 9 or 10 due to its inherent limitations, but for a $5 download that can, within certain social settings, bring about a bit of corny group fun, show off the touchscreen of the DSi, and allow you to save the results to show off later, I simply don't see how a 2 is defensible.

I'm not interested in your years of service and so forth, I'm just responding to this one review, which amounts to little more than your aversion to the whole concept of the paper/pencil game this is based on. That's perfectly fine not to "get" why people ever play that game in the first place, but the fact that they have played it for years is something worth taking into account if you intend your review to be more than a mere reflection of your personal enjoyment of the software, and that within an awkwardly contrived group setting.



Corbs said:

While I always try to review games from an "every person" perspective, I can't completely remove myself from the equation. I'm sorry you disagree with the review, but this game feels like nothing more than a slightly juiced-up version of Pictochat retailed for $5.

I have to be honest when I review a title, and that's what I've done here. I always encourage people to check out multiple reviews before making any type of purchasing decision and that still applies in this case.



warioswoods said:


You're essentially arguing that a good multiplayer game will always be fun if you sit a group down and have them play it, regardless of the circumstances, their interest in participating, etc. That's simply false; most multiplayer activities (and you can certainly take this back to board games) require a certain investment and interest on the part of the participants, and only work if everyone playing is in the right disposition to enjoy the particular activity at that particular time. Imagine going to a recital and someone suddenly asks you and a group of others to play a game of Risk to completion; I doubt enough people would be invested in the game sufficiently for it to turn into anything less than a disaster. Risk is one of the greatest games of all time, and while I'm seldom in the right mood to want to play it, when I am (and when I have a group of others who are also in the right mindset to give it a go), it is a top notch experience. I hardly think that should disqualify it, but it certainly would if we were to follow your notion of focus testing.



warioswoods said:


That's fine, I'm not trying to be a pain or beat a dead horse, I just read a 2 as more appropriate for a game is fundamentally broken or for a game for which one can safely say that any person who purchases it will soon regret the decision. Something aimed at a niche concept, but that manages to pull it off fairly well for only a few bucks, doesn't deserve a 2. I agree that your prompt inclusion of the very opposite IGN review was a sign of good faith.



Corbs said:

I certainly don't think you're being a pain, you're just discussing your thoughts on my review. That's exactly what we want on these comments.

I believe these comments, at times, give as much insight into the game as the review does when people chime in with their thoughts and opinions.



papermario128 said:

This review and ign's review gives me mixed messages, one is too high and one is too low so the average of the two scores is five.




I think you just have to read the CONTENT of each revw in its entireity to make your own decision. BOTH the IGN revw and this one don't fill me with any desire to purchase this download. Nintendo life oobviously is the best place by far (generally) for ware revws IMHO.



killthezombie12 said:

if you just spend the five bucks to get the game instead of playing the "paper game", you would probably save money and the environment. You wouldn't ever have to go out and buy sticky notes again!



Hardy83 said:

It's really sad when Nintendo releases a video on the Nintendo Channel titled "How to play Mixed Messages"

Really...seriously...You know it's going to suck and needs explaining but you still release it...



Gogata said:

I must agree that this game is just not worthy for 500 points... I think that it should be free, like the better application Ukokou Memochou うごくメモ帳 (moving memoped should be free.

By the way Memoped is coming on May 1st in Europe and Australia... NA will have to wait 10 days more!



Pastry said:

This game is too hard! I couldn't even get past the 1st boss!

Oops... I meant to post this in Masters of Illusions Express... lol



Pavel_Wii said:

I purchased this game specifically for a road trip with 6 of my friends after reading the ign review. Upon reading Corbie's review, I had serious doubts about the purchase. However, I can honestly say that we had a blast with this game. Every round was immediately followed by mass mocking of whoever destroyed the message with their mediocre art skills. Now, Corbie has astutely reported that the game is basically a repackaging of Pictochat. Technically, he is correct. However, presentation is everything. The interface was simple, smooth, and (perhaps most importantly) didn't allow people to cheat. This simply would not have worked on pictochat, especially considering that several of my friends had never touched a DS before. So, if you think that spending a meager $5 on this game is a waste, then I expect your the sort of stingy person who writes their own Mad Libs and re-uses moist towelettes.

Also, you hate puppies.



Denkou said:

i once played this game with one of my friends. it was awful......... 2/10? that is soooooo overrated.



aerogirl1003 said:

Though this game is not for the DSi, i suggest taking out a pad of paper and just playing it with your real friends. Not some freaks from the internet that you don't even know. It is a fun way to pass time.



Supremeist said:

Seems like IGN is completely different from Nintendo Life's reviews...

It seems they appreciate the good things in a game more than here... but that's a good thing because I'm really picky!



ejamer said:

Wow, some of the comments are ugly here. You get the feeling that a lot of people didn't really try the game before forming opinions either.

I'm not arguing with the review rating - Corbie obviously didn't like the game, nor did the other people he convinced to try it. And on purely technical merits, it's hard to argue for anything higher.

Yet this game still is a lot of fun with the right group of people playing. Having it on a DSi/3DS system works much better in some situations because it is self-contained and better hides the previous sentences and drawings.

I guess it's a good thing that the review body describes gameplay pretty well; certainly well enough that people who will be interested or attracted to this type of social game could make up their own minds.

By the way, haters might want to check this link:

That is the board game version. It sells for about $25, has won multiple awards, received an average rating of 7.53/10 (after being rated by 967 different people) and is the 7th highest rated party game on the biggest board game-related website on the web. What does that mean? There are many people who DO enjoy this type of experience, and a relatively inexpensive portable/digital version has a lot of merit for those groups of people.

The only thing that sounds disappointing about Mixed Messages is the lack of a share feature, and the difficulty in actually sharing the final result due to the small screen. I guess using an XL system would help that?

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