Traditional Pairs, the rudimentary card matching game, has never been the worlds most exciting pastime, but it has a certain simple charm. Musical Pairs borrows the same basic premise and aims it at music aficionados, but with a selection of dull sound effects and an uninspired design style it loses something in the translation.
First impressions aren’t great – besides an unimaginative front end, you’re met with an onslaught of tinny MIDI-style background music and very little indication of what button does what. Essentially you’re playing Pairs with musical notes, matching piano, string, wind and voice sounds and chords across 5 octaves, unlocking more challenging levels as you go.
Musical Pairs puts your musical ear to the test
Picking out the right notes starts of easy enough, with only three pairs to choose from, but things get tricky when the more complex chords are unlocked with up to six pairs at once. Needless to say, the tone deaf need not apply. It’s a novel idea, and one which those with an ear for music might want to dip into, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired.
The design language throughout needs to be refined, with icons and menus which are utilitarian at best, and hardly stylish. If we’re to be charitable we could say that Musical Pairs is about the sounds not its graphic flair, but sadly the game falls short in that regard too – the audio library is made up of some particularly grating sound effects which will soon have gamers reaching for that volume button.
A choir or a cacophony?
The nature of the game is partly to blame – you’re playing the same sounds over and over, trying to find their match, so repetition is unavoidable. But the problem is compounded by the sound effects themselves, which soon become quite abrasive. It’s hard to think of an alternative solution though, as the game is based on guesswork and trial and error, so you would imagine that even the most inoffensive sounds would annoy eventually.
Completionists with a musical bent might feel compelled to see it through to the end, but the incentive to push forward is minimal. Perhaps with a substantial redesign and a audio library with some finesse there would be more to recommend, but the first thing that Musical Pairs needs is to shed its price tag – there are far more exciting ways to spend a dollar. We can only hope that future updates give us a more appealing interface and a selection of fresh sound effects to match.
Requires iOS 7.0 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimised for iPhone 5.