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Review: Let's Tap

6:00 PM on 07.01.2009 // Colette Bennett

I was fortunate enough to have a good friend pass me a copy of the Let's Tap soundtrack almost immediately after its Japanese release, and for months it was by far the most often-played CD in my car. Having been a fan of rhythm games for the past ten years or so, you get to the point where you know an incredible soundtrack from the moment those first beats begin, and the Let's Tap soundtrack had all the makings of a classic. Suffice it to say, I was pretty worked up about getting my hands on the game.

On the other hand, Let's Tap was clearly not just a rhythm game, but also a minigame collection, and your average Wii owner heaves a heavy sigh at the sight of yet another entry in this already maxed-out genre. However, the idea of using a box to tap your fingers to the beat on instead of using the Wiimote itself was certainly intriguing.

We finally got some quality time with Let's Tap recently, and Dale North and I thought you might like to hear the details on this unusual title. Hit the jump for more.

Let's Tap (Wii)
Developer: Prope
Publisher: Sega
Released: June 16, 2009
MSRP: $29.99

Colette Bennett:

Right out of the box, Let's Tap is going to make you do something a little bit different as far as the way you play. If you didn't buy the Best Buy special edition (and we did not), you'll need to take a moment to grab a box from somewhere inside your house. I used a box from one of my collectible toys, since I am kind of into that sort of thing. You'll have to push a few buttons on your Wiimote to get going, but after that, you're going to put the Wiimote face-down on the box you chose. From there on out, when you need to do something, all you have to do is tap the box with your fingertips. Just a note here: without the rubber casing on your Wiimote, all it's going to do is skitter around and fall off the box, so make sure you use it for this game!

On the main screen, you'll see five minigames to choose from. The first is called Tap Runner and can be played with up to three other people (all the games, in fact, allow up to four). Movement is fairly simple: you tap lightly to move, tap harder to run and harder still to jump over obstacles. You'll also be challenged to tap lightly to deal with tightropes. Tap Runner is straightforward and easy to play, and you can either work your way through the races or replay them as you go to improve your time. 

Next up is my personal favorite, Rhythm Tap (and this is where you get to hear all the songs that are on the soundtrack). In this game, you will keep your eye on colored dots as they move from the right side of the screen to the left. The trick here is that the dots come in three different colors, and each one signifies a different strength of tapping. Just like Taiko No Tatsujin, you can score combos and drive up your score by not missing any of the beats.

The varying strength used for the taps is something I have personally never seen in another rhythm game, and it adds a really unique twist to it. This was by far my favorite game of the five, and I was actually surprised how challenging it got as I progressed into the later levels. Did I mention it has a brilliant soundtrack?

The third game, Silent Blocks, challenges the player to remove blocks from a Jenga-like tower without allowing it to tumble down. There's actually a puzzle variation on this minigame where the player must match three colored blocks to make them disappear. This game wasn't bad, but I found I came back to it the least of all the other games. There's nothing wrong with it, but it felt like the most average of the five.

The fourth game, Bubble Voyager, was my second favorite game besides Rhythm Tap. In this one, you play a little space dude who must navigate his way through a side-scrolling enviroment and avoid mines and other obstacles while collecting stars. This little minigame has that retro shooter feel that always touches a soft spot in my heart, but it's also fun to play. It reminds me a bit of a similar Japanese game called Super Mic-Chan where you navigate your character through the same type of enviroment by yelling into a microphone (and no, I am not making that up -- come over to my house and I will play this game with you). Tapping to move your character in Bubble Voyager is a lot more pleasant than yelling into a microphone, and if you practice a bit you can achieve some pretty respectable scores in this one.

The last game is, well, not really a game. Visualizer is just what it sounds like -- a reason to use the tapping function to control fireworks, paint splashes and other stuff. For a kid, I'm sure this would hold some novelty, but I found myself really wishing I had another game to play instead of tapping to create pond ripples. In fact, finding this was the last minigame only served to increase the feeling that I wanted all the games to be a little bit deeper somehow. The simplicity didn't bother me, but I felt as if the entire package was lacking something.

As a whole, the control scheme for Let's Tap works, but in some games it is less responsive than others. For instance, as much as I enjoyed Rhythm Tap, I couldn't deny that I noticed that sometimes it didn't seem to matter if I tapped with all my strength or just a little, as I could still achieve a perfect on a beat that requested a light tap but that I tapped heavily on. Had this system worked the way it was supposed to, I think this minigame could have offered even more challenge and perhaps been fleshed out into a game all by itself.

For its price point, Let's Tap dishes up some solid multiplayer fun and introduces some worthwhile new ways to play, but as a fan of the weirdest rhythm games I can get my hands on, I found it fell a little bit short of my expectations. I hoped it would be weirder. Of course, it was marketed here as a "fun for the whole family" type of experience, and I can't deny it does offer that with some slight hiccups. In other words, if you go in expecting light-hearted, simplistic fun, you won't be disappointed, but if you were hoping for all the weird quirk the soundtrack offers, it may not be quite what you were looking for.

Score: 7.0

Dale North:

Who would have thought that hitting a box could be fun? Sega and developer Prope, that's who. And they made it fun with Let's Tap, a collection of five mini-games that manages to use your trash as a game controller. Only an upside-down Wii Remote on any box is needed to have you using hand strikes to run track, blow up fireworks, bounce balls, play rhythm games and more. What kind of box? Well, just about anything.

In Japan, the game launched with short, long boxes (about the size of a shoe box top) of respectable strength that worked well, but you can use cereal boxes or tissue boxes or anything else you have available. You'll want to make sure that the cardboard of your box is stocky enough to hold up to multiple taps, though. Where you tap on the box is up to you, though the Wii Remote's ability to sense your taps will vary by box. Even menu navigation is done through taps, with double tapping being used to select menu items.

Through some unexplained ability, the Wii Remote is able to sense everything from light fingertapping to full-on box slapping, and Let's Tap puts both to good use in its party games. The best game is a race where up to four players can tap their way to a finish line, Tap Runner. Delicate, rhythmic tapping has your on-screen player running, while full hits initiate jumps. There seems to be an art to running the fastest, and finding that sweet spot and staying in it is pretty fun. If you manage that, you'll move as fast as you can, overcoming obstacles and dodging obstructions. As you progress, you'll see that hitting a box can be almost as tiring as actually running! There are plenty of stages of steadily increasing challenges to play on your own, but this game is best enjoyed in the company of others.

Another minigame has you tapping out rhythms on your box, much like you would on your bongos in Donkey Konga. While it's slightly less demanding and sensitive than in Donkey Konga, the over-the-top musical score really makes the game. The upbeat toe-tappers are the highlight here. The very loose and forgiving tap response aren't, though. I found that your timing did not have to be very precise to "pass," and as Colette said, even your tap strength wasn't judged that closely. That's a shame, as the music is great.

I didn't think much of the match-three puzzler Silent Blocks, but tap-shmup Bubble Voyager is quite fun to play. The latter seems to have the same fine control that Tap Runner does, and once you find that sweet spot, this shooter is easy to enjoy.

Unlike Colette, I found Visualizer to be engrossing. Under the surface, there's some depth to this visual tap-to-paint art minigame. If you play with it long enough, you'll begin to see that patterns of tapping result in different effects. In the fireworks mode, for example, tapping a sequence like hard-light-hard-light-hard triggers a specific fireworks display. In the handwriting one, you can uncover sequences that put together beautiful brushstrokes to create characters. There's just something about feeling out each of the visual modes to find these hidden sequences that feels exploratory and deep. Eventually, these sequences begin to roll off the fingers, like special moves in a fighting game. Visualizer can be as involving or relaxing as you make it, and manages to be one of the most unique Wii Remote uses yet.

In all, Let's Tap is exactly what I expected it to be: a fun party game. I must have spent 3 hours playing the racing mode on my first boot up, and subsequent play-throughs have been similar. Again, you'll get much more out of the title with multiple players. There's nothing groundbreaking or original here -- just something fun and different. I was looking for something a bit more crazy and off-the-wall in Let's Tap, though. Here's hoping they take the control scheme and do something a bit more edgy with it in the future.

Score: 8

Overall Score: 7.5 -- Good (7s are solid games that definitely have an audience. Might lack replay value, could be too short or there are some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.)



Colette Bennett,
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