Sunday 9 April 2017

Tapper (Colecovision review)

Developer: Coleco
Publisher: Coleco
Released: 1984

Tapper is an action game that was first released in the Arcades in 1983.

You play as a barman who serves customers by throwing root beer down the bar. These patrons are spread across four counters that can be switched between, and once their thirst has been quenched they exit and you move onto the next level. Lives are depleted each time an unserved customer reaches the front of the bar, if you fail to collect an empty mug that's been returned, or if a mug is thrown down a counter with no patrons. The gameplay is multitasking mayhem and it's not exactly a relaxing experience with all the chaos going on around you! Saying that, there is something hypnotic about keeping an eye on all four counters and flicking between them with lightning speed. The more you play, the more you start to instinctively use advanced tactics and anticipating what customers will do; this involves throwing another beer before they've even finished their current drink which can help you clear levels much faster. There are a few issues with this port though, mainly the choppy animation and flickering sprites that make it hard to judge whether 3 or 4 customers are at any given counter. Also, the garish colour scheme used for the patrons / beer glasses can be indistinguishable from the background. While it's great that all four locations from the Arcade original are present, there's no between-level animations so much of the humour is lost. After every 2-4 levels you take part in a Bonus Round where your job is to pick the only unshaken can. These act as a much needed change of pace and always manage to be fun regardless of whether you're successful, or end up with a face full of root beer! 
Tapper is a simple game, but one that's quick-paced and packed full of strategy for regular players. However, while this port is decent it doesn't really do the Arcade original justice, and once you reach the higher levels the technical issues start to affect the gameplay, and luck becomes as much of a factor as skill.
Random trivia: Occasionally, customers leave tips and if you manage to collect them you'll be treated to a dancing show featuring girls and monkeys!

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