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Mix Tape

by Brett Witty profile

Slice of life

(based on 8 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

The delicate art of a mix tape can be your own expression through others' poetry.

Game Details


18th Place - 11th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2005)

Nominee, Best Writing - 2005 XYZZY Awards

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A very good love story; however, it looks like static fiction converted to IF in such a way that, if the player comes off the prescribed path, the game doesn't really know what to do about it. This shows through in parts of the setting not being implemented properly, and in NPCs acting dummy-like in unforeseen situations. At one point, the game progress depends on guessing a pretty obscure command. Still, if you like love stories, you should definitely give it a try.

-- Valentine Kopteltsev

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

Once I wasnít stuck in guess-the-command hell, I was able to enjoy the writing, characterization, and scene-setting a little more. By this point, I didnít find either of the characters sympathetic, but I could at least appreciate how lovingly the game portrays their dysfunction.

Moments like that make me sad about saying this, but Mix Tape, itís just not going to work out between us. And itís not me, itís you.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Driver Picks the Music, Shotgun Shuts Her Cakehole, January 8, 2013
by Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle)

This is a slice-of-life game, heavily influenced by lad-lit novelist Nick Hornby, that deals directly with a romantic relationship and its breakup. That's a pretty rare thing in IF, and Mix Tape gives some hints as to why.

The author's focus is definitely more on the writer side. Essentially all of the significant actions come pre-scripted; only one scene involves much interaction, and even there your actions are about preparing dinner, rather than directly engaging with the relationship. Much of the significant plot is doled out in walls-o'-text. The prose wanders, a good deal of the time, into overwritten or overwrought territory; it avoids being bland, it maintains voice, but it's in need of a ruthless edit and some repurposing to fit its medium better. Significant action is pretty limited throughout; veering from the script will either get you stuck entirely, or dragged back on course.

The central relationship concerns Peter and Valentine, twentysomethings from nowhere in particular. Although you play as Valentine, the protagonist of this story is definitely Peter; Peter is the one whose interests dominate the narrative. Val isn't given much that makes her stick in the mind as an individual. In the frame-story, wherein Peter gets Val to burn her scrapbook of their relationship, it felt to me very much as if Peter was using Val as a prop in his own internal drama while justifying it as a necessary step for us.

A lot of the problems with characterisation are ultimately interaction problems: Peter isn't deeply-implemented, so he comes off as distant and inattentive. Peter's role is to direct the plot, so he comes off as controlling. The combination makes him feel self-absorbed and emotionally manipulative. (True, this is meant to be about a failed romance, not a healthy one. But it's meant to resolve into a failed romance but a reaffirmed friendship, and doesn't really succeed at it.) But it's also a problem with the writing: Valentine mostly thinks about Peter, Peter mostly thinks about music. It's hard to form much of a picture of Valentine other than as Peter's cute girlfriend.

In this particular corner of cultural history, we tend to have some fairly strong feelings about parity in romantic relationships. But the basic formula of interactive media involves a highly asymmetric relationship. This means that IF stories about romance are a very fine balancing act; small errors can have far-reaching, unintentional overtones about manipulation, coercion, emotional blackmail. Moments intended to be touching often become creepy even in more traditional media; IF is even more vulnerable to this. (Violet, a more mature piece than Mix Tape, still ends up falling into this trap.)

The game's structural conceit is a retrospective of a romantic relationship in the form of a selection of songs. This is kind of self-indulgent on the face of it, and suffers badly because the songs aren't (and can't be) included in the game. This was perhaps more of an issue in 2005 than it is now, when more or less any song can be listened to on YouTube; but it still has a translation problem if you're unfamiliar with the songs, dislike them, or simply have no emotional resonance with them. (For me, most of it falls into the category of Earnest Indie-Pop Rock with a side of Boring Indie That Nerds 5-10 Years My Senior Like.)

(I liked this considerably more when it first came out, but on re-examination its flaws feel far more acute. The score here splits the difference.)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
A short, linear slice-of-life game about love with heavy music references, February 3, 2016

This game is pretty much a short story in parser form; it would likely have been written as a web-based game if the technology was available at the time.

The story is about a boy and a girl conducting a post-mortem on their relationship (although not phrased that way, and not so grim). They revisit their past through flashbacks.

The game was short but fun, and well-written. There was one verb I couldn't guess to end the scene in Peter's house: (Spoiler - click to show)SERVE DINNER.

Recommended to fans of slice-of-life.

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Mix Tape on IFDB


The following polls include votes for Mix Tape:

Romance Games by Molly
In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm looking for games that deal with romance and relationships.

This is version 3 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 10 May 2022 at 1:27am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page