Let’s Tap is a mini-game collection for the Nintendo Wii from Sega and Prope, the studio started by Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka. It’s is a decidedly Japanese game with the kind of gimmicky gameplay that rarely escapes from the Land of the Rising Sun.
My first thought upon turning on Let’s Tap was, “You know who would really enjoy this game? People who like to tap things.” Because that’s all you do. You tap. You play the game by laying your Wiimote face down on a box, and then tapping the cardboard to control various things in the game. The game registers the difference between light, medium and hard taps, and the combination thereof allows the control of five mini-games:
- Tap Runner—Make your little dude run an obstacle course by tapping rhythmically, than give a harder slap to leap over hurdles.
- Silent Blocks – It’s like tappy Jenga: Players taking turns removing blocks from a large stack. Tap too hard and your tower will fall.
- Bubble Voyager -- A tapping side-scrolling space shooter with a retro look and feel. You through a maze of bubble and mines by tapping. More tapping = floating higher. It’s a little hard to describe, but it’s instantly understandable in practice.
- Rhythm Tap -- Like super low impact Dance Dance Revolution for your fingers.
- Visualizer -- Players create fireworks effects, paint strokes, and other cool stuff. This is done by tapping. I bet you guessed that already, though. There is no game here, you just chill out and tap, man.
The controller-less controls of Let's Tap are an interesting gimmick, definitely. It's odd to play a video game without holding anything, but the controls are surprisingly responsive, once you figure out the difference between a hard, soft and medium tap.
As you might expect from a Wii party game, Let's Tap will not provide you with a deep or long-lasting gaming experience, unless a symptom of your OCD is the need to constantly drum your fingers. Let’s Tap is a social game. You can play it alone, but you probably won’t like it much -- sitting by yourself and tapping on a cardboard box just seems depressing. But if you have some like-minded friends who are interested in trying something new, and you can find enough empty pizza boxes, and everyone can get over how silly they feel playing a game about tapping, a strange thing happens. First you realize that the game is kind of fun. And then you realize that the game is really fun. And finally you realize that the game is really, really, hyper-ultra OMG super fun, with a capital F.
I got together with Eugene Morton from Attack of the Show to put this through the paces. At first, the hardcore gamers in G4’s game lab laughed at our ridiculous tapping adventures, but it wasn’t long before a small crowd had gathered around the Wii’s monitor to watch the rivalry play out between us and to take up the other two Wiimotes and tap in.
We mostly focused on the Tap Runner mini-game, a cartoony side-scrolling race where you help a little jelly dude navigate obstacle courses, leaping over electrified fences, walking over tightropes, and otherwise racing to the finish line. If you tap too hard, you jump, and thus slow yourself down, so any moment of desperation, anger or lack of concentration is likely to throw you to the back of the race.
Like the best casual games. Let’s Tap can be picked up in seconds, but involves just enough difficulty to creates good natured but completely silly rivalries. For example, E. Morton and I have gone from friends to bitter, lifelong enemies because I am a much better tapper than he is, and he can’t handle that fact. He's a tap noob. I schooled him so hard, I think I saw his avatar cry.
Other than the racing game, nothing really held my interest in Let's Tap. The rest of the games here seem a little like after-thoughts. Rhythm Tap is like a kind-of okay Dance Dance Revolution with less songs and without the dancing part. Silent Blocks combines tapping and Jenga: Try to gently remove blocks from a tower and avoid wrecking it, there are deeper puzzle elemnts here, but that's the gist. Bubble Voyager seems okay as a slightly hard-to-control space shooter, but really, shooters benefit from tight controls. The Visualizer lets you tap away to your heart’s content on an interactive screensaver -- tap some ripples into a stream, tap some fireworks into the night sky, tap some paint onto a canvas. The visualizer gives you the option of tapping away in each screen for up to six hours. I want to meet the guy who taps ripples into a pond for six hour straight—on second thought, no I don’t.
So if you’re looking for a Wii game that stands out from the cess-pit of cookie-cutter mini-game collections, Let’s Tap might be your thing. It has a mixture of quirkiness and purity of purpose that's perfect for a Wii game, and if you all can get over how weird the mechanics are, you and your friends will love it.
Let’s Tap will be available for the Wii on June 16, 2009.