PN Review: Chat-A-Lot
Chat-A-Lot is a new 3DS application designed to connect you with those on your friend list. This program has many serious issues though. Your initial (and fair) question might be ‘What does this offer that can’t be found elsewhere for cheaper, or even free?” More importantly though, ask “Does this program function well”? The answer is no, it does not.
The key selling point for this is microphone and text chatting. Of course for this to happen, each person needs their own copy of the program, currently selling for $7.99. I was provided with two codes just to be able to test the game. The results were sadly unacceptable.
After the a few minutes of setup my friend and I found the sound quality to be barely functional. The delays and echoes were quite frustrating, the copious amounts of static nearly unbearable, and the whole experience just made us want to reach for our cell phones, Skype, or social media. It’s hard to imagine the quality being much worse, but with mic support for up to four I can only fear how it acts with a larger group.
The texting fares slightly better – you can use a keyboard – but I’ve a hard time envisioning when this would be a practical and preferred solution. Parents might appreciate the one time fee for secure messaging, but it comes at a cost of overall functionality. There’s an option when texting to enter a ‘news’ room, but after repeated attempts (with lengthy loads times) it doesn’t seem to work. You can select from twelve mood adjustable avatars but no actual pictures. A shop (also not functioning at the time we tested this) suggests DLC – given this apps dire straits, I certainly hope they are free. You can draw and exchange simple pictures, but there are several better options on Nintendo hardware, never mind free mobile apps.
I’m not giving Chat-A-Lot a score as it’s an app and not a game, but clearly it struggles mightily. Unless the sound quality can be improved to even adequate levels, what would be the desire to use this very limited piece of software? At $7.99 a piece, you get a program whose performance is simply awful! That’s the bottom line. Back to the drawing board.