Animation and gaming legend Don Bluth (Dragon’s Lair, An American Tail, Space Ace) has created characters and animation for an upcoming iPhone/iPad game Tapper World Tour, a reimagining of classic arcade game Tapper. While the gaming public hasn’t really spent the last 30 years or so clamoring for the return of this particular Midway franchise, the pairing of Tapper and iPads/iPhones makes perfect intuitive sense. It’s like the casual little game you never knew you always wanted to play.
Like its source material, you play a bartender, sliding drinks down the bar to a group of increasingly irate and thirsty barflies. You do this by tapping the screen (Tapper? Get it?) in the right places. It’s the kind of game the touchscreen-powered iPad and iPhone were designed for, literally. Tapper is simple, but addictive, with enough power ups (earned by completing combos ), gameplay variation, and different settings to keep things interesting.
In true arcade fashion, the action gets more and more frantic and fast, until eventually, you are defeated by the thirst of your collective customer base. These people are bunch of damn alcoholics!
Along with the main game, Tapper also features some silly little mini-games that are variations on well-known real life game. There’s a “Whack-a-Mole” variant, as well as a version of the old shell game, where you try to choose the shell that has the ball under it.
While the gameplay seems pleasant and engaging enough, Tapper World Tour really shines in terms of visuals. The backgrounds are lush and interesting, but Tapper’s best trait is its characters. The bars’ patrons, drawn by Bluth, are all incredibly expressive, funny little caricatures of different kinds of people you might meet in a saloon. There are even some undercover aliens walking around, disguised as alkies.
There’s no story to speak of here, but the variety and detail of the locations and the expressiveness of the characters suggest a real sense of place, making the game seem a lot broader and bigger than it actually is. It’s a neat trick and a neat little game that has the potential to be the next Angry Birds.
While the initial launch contains cities in North, Central and South America, the plan is to expand Tapper’s tour, and eventually include even more cities. Don’t forget to download it when it comes out this Spring...and if you can, play it on the iPad; Bluth’s drawings are really special, and should be as seen as large as possible.