I’m not exactly sure why my friends David and Yi wound up playing the party game Let’s Tap at my apartment. When I asked them a couple of weeks ago if they were interested in playing a game in which you put the Wii remote on a box and tap the box with your fingers to control the game, which I thought was a really cool idea, they both made a face and shook their heads.
Gameplay: Speed Tapping
My friend Jeremiah was more open to the idea of tap controls, so we arranged a play date. As I was waiting for him to arrive on Sunday, I was surprised by a call from David offering to come over with Yi. Apparently they were more bored than they had expected to be.
Let’s Tap is a collection of mini-games all built around the game’s innovative control system. Each remote must lie face down on a flat surface (I put mine on top of a video game jewel case that was itself placed on my ottoman). After that, it’s all about the tapping.
Jeremiah arrived first, and we started with a foot race game in which gentle taps make your stick-figure avatar run while hard taps make it jump. Early races are simply tracks with hurdles, but as you play, tracks become littered with swinging ropes, escalators, and balloons you have to blow up using air pumps.
Having played a few races earlier, I had an advantage over Jeremiah, who had the problem I’d had at first; jumping when he didn’t mean to. I managed to win 15 of the game’s 16 races. In one race I jumped a hurdle that sent me right into an electric barrier (the shock momentarily turned my little stick man into a skeleton) while Jeremiah managed to beautifully jump between those two barriers. We were both thrilled for him.
The racing game is a lot of fun, but it took less than an hour to play every race offered. After that all you can do is learn to run the tracks faster. If users could design their own courses the Let’s Tap’s racing could offer hours of fun, but instead it’s a brief experience.
Gameplay: Musical Tapping
Just as we were finishing up the last race, David and Yi showed up, surprisingly bringing with them a big bag of ice and several airplane size bottles of Baileys. David started his traditional trash-talking by apologizing to Jeremiah and myself for the slaughter he was about to inflict on us (although he didn’t apologize to Yi, the person in the room he was most likely to beat).
The next mini-game we tried was a rhythm game in which indicators tell you to tap soft, medium or hard in time with a song. Sometimes you must tap continually, getting louder as the song progresses.
Yi, whose gaming skills were rather underwhelming the last time she came over, was surprisingly successful in tapping along with the game’s Japanese pop instrumentals. I thought it might be because of her intense focus, represented by the way she sang “LA LA LA LA LA” at the top of her lungs for the entire song. But Yi admitted the secret to her success was to simply constantly tap for the whole song without paying any attention to what the game was telling her to do. Since she won, it does make one skeptical of the amount of skill necessary to win at the game. The rhythm game was moderately enjoyable, but after a few songs we decided to move on.
Gameplay: Alchemical Tapping
In the next mini-game we each had a tower of disks, the goal being to pull out certain disks without toppling the rest over. The game highlights each disk in turn; tap to choose a disk, tap again to indicate which direction you want to move it and then repeatedly and carefully tap to pull the disk out little by little. When three or more disks of the same color meet they turn into one disk of a different color. The goal is to create disks of certain colors and combine these to create disks of yet another color. For example, three red or blue disks turn to copper, three of those turn to silver, etc.
After trying a simple level in which you have to combine just a few colors, my guests insisted we try the most difficult level, in which you have to combine and combine and combine. I predicted this would take a very long time. After about a half hour in which no one even made it a third of the way to the goal, and in which we all sooner or later knocked over all our disks and had to start from scratch, I suggested we give up. All but Jeremiah agreed, because Jeremiah was a little further along, and by the time he wanted to give up David thought he was finally close, and so it was another 15 to 20 minutes before everyone finally agreed that this game was never going to end.
A Little More Gameplay: Missile Tapping
The last game involved flying around in little spacecraft shooting at each other. This was the most difficult one. The ships constantly rotate, with a light tap moving them forward and a hard tap firing a missile. Power-ups appear on screen, and getting to those can give you super-powered weapons. I found steering tricky, and if your ship wound up at the edge of the screen you couldn’t see it, which made steering even trickier. I found this more annoying than fun; even Yi was better at it than I was. Jeremiah and David won all the games.
David and Yi wanted to see the racing game, so we did a little more of that. Jeremiah and I, having just played the entire course, easily bested the competition. As a bonus, we replayed the one race I’d lost and I beat Jeremiah when I made the jump he had made the first time.
Let’s Tap can also be played without friends, and there are some modes specifically designed for single players, such as a version of the flying game in which your craft flies straight forward while you fire at other ships and meteors and dodge by moving up and down.
There is also a fifth section of the game that is a simple set of activities such as making a painting by tapping. This is amusing for about two minutes, but I can’t see any real reason for its inclusion.