Let's Tap Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
Nintendo Wii
Release date:
June 16, 2009
Publisher:
SEGA
Developer:
Prope
Players:
1-4
Genre:
Party
ESRB:
E10

Let's Tap

Steel toes and heels not required.

Review by James Cunningham (Email)
July 4th 2009

New control schemes are always interesting, regardless of the quality of the game they get attached to. It's fun to experiment with new ways of making a game work, and novelty value alone can make it worth checking out. Once that wears off, however, the game itself had better be worth playing to keep it from being quickly dumped, and that's where Let's Tap falls apart. Let's Tap is yet another collection of mini-games designed around the eccentricities of the Wii controller, and while its fun for a short while it quickly grows stale.

Let's Tap features one of the oddest uses of the Wii remote yet. Putting the remote face-down on a box, book, or other handy surface capable of carrying vibration, the player taps that surface to register a hit. The remote is sensitive enough to differentiate between soft, medium, and hard hits, and with a bit of practice it's easy to get a reliable sense of how much pressure to use. It's a bizarre setup, but it works as advertised.

Getting the controls right is only one part of a game, however, and presentation and gameplay need attention too. Each of the five minigames that comprise Let's Tap has its own unique style, but the quality ranges from outright boring to “fun for a while, until it's over”. Starting from the bottom of the list on the game select screen, here's how each of them fare-

Visualizer is the least game-like toy available, being basically a selection of screensavers that use the tapping mechanic to influence the visuals. Hitting a string of beats can call up different fireworks, or fish in a river, or patterns of ink and paint. There's also a mini-minigame called Gem Game that uses the tapping to throw colored balls into containers, and it's necessary to beat this in order unlock the last visualizer. I figure it would take about 5-6 hours of tapping to do this, and seeing as boredom sets in after five minutes and there's no way to save progress, that last visualizer is going to remain locked forever.

Bubble Voyager is actually two very different games with one mechanic. The single-player game sees a battle-suited traveler flying vertically across the screen picking up stars and power-ups in an endless journey to the right. Regular tapping shoots a jet of bubbles from his backpack, sending him up and forward, while a hard tap fires a missile. The course is littered with asteroids, flashing mines with a large area effect explosion, indestructible spiky balls, and other troublesome objects. It's an old-school style of gaming that requires a subtle touch in order to use limited movement abilities to navigate complex scenarios, but its appeal is to a very specific niche of gamer. It looks nice, with a great sense of style, but frankly it's more frustrating than fun.

Bubble Voyager's multiplayer, on the other hand, is completely different. 2-4 players float around an arena shooting each other, or at least attempting to. Tapping still shoots out bubbles but the traveler now flies in a straight line, and when he stops he rotates. Tap again to choose a new trajectory or tap harder to shoot a missile, and try not to plow into random debris or another player's shots. The control scheme is a bit more forgiving but it's only slightly more fun than the single player.

The next game is Silent Blocks, and it's instantly forgettable. Choose a disc from a tower of discs, tap carefully to remove it, repeat. Alchemist Mode sees you creating groups of three in order to transform them into different colors, with the goal being to create a Rainbow Diamond, but it's such a long process that brain atrophy will have set in long before getting close to that goal. Tapping too hard will cause blocks to get knocked out of place on the tower, giving the multiplayer race a little edge, but not enough to ever resemble any kind of entertainment.

Faring far better is Rhythm Tap, a music game requiring the player to tap to the beat on a fair-sized selection of songs. Beats indicators scroll across the screen in light, medium, and strong forms, but it's only necessary to tap on time to score the hit. Screwing up the tap strength only scores a Good rather than Perfect, but still preserves the combo. Multiplayer divides up the responsibility for the rhythm among multiple players, so nobody plays the exact same pattern. It's basic, but fairly decent for as long as the song list holds out.

And finally there's the best of the lot, Tap Runner. This is a side-view foot race among four stick-figure runners on a track suspended in space. It's a nifty near-abstract set of courses covered with obstacles and alternate routes, and the controls fit perfectly with the theme. Light taps make the runner go, and rapid light taps activate a brief sprint. A medium tap is used for a forward leap while a heavy tap is a high jump. The courses are well designed and filled with obstacles as simple as a hurdle or as complex as rope swings that need a properly-timed jump to fly over the electric balls and on to the shortcut platform, and the runners are loaded with charm. Tripping, getting fried or squashed, sliding down a ramp into a jump and landing face-first, or rejoicing in victory or moping in defeat, they bring far more personality than their simple design should allow. Unfortunately there are only 16 tracks and 4 bonus races, and they go by all too quickly.

Let's Tap shows a nice amount of variety in the games, and its simple controls don't limit the gameplay. The problem is that, with only five games, they all need to be great rather than one good, two decent, and two filler. The unique style of each game and the tapping controls guarantees they're at least memorable, but that's no substitute for being fun to play. Let's Tap is unquestionably an interesting experiment, but it would have been better served being a more consistently good game instead.

 

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