Let’s Tap Review: Hardcore Tapping
In video games, there’s a fine line between innovation and annoying feature, and Sega’s latest Wii release, “Let’s Tap” toes that line very dangerously. It’s a creative new game from Sonic the Hedgehog’s creator Yuji Naka and his new studio Probe. The selling point for “Let’s Tap” is that it’s entirely motion controlled, and while that’s not groundbreaking in today’s market, you don’t have to use a camera to play, and there’s (mostly) no extra peripherals needed. Again, that’s still not entirely original since most Wii games fit both of those descriptions, but in “Let’s Tap” you can play the whole game without ever laying a finger on the Wii remote – the entire game is controlled by tapping.
That’s right, tapping. You can tap a table, a box, or any number of different items that will vibrate when rattled. You just need to be able to tap. The game works by using the Wii’s motion sensing capabilities to sense the slight vibrations that go from your finger tips (or hands) to the surface you are striking, to the remote placed upside down a inches away from you. It’s a first for the Wii, and, as anyone that has played “WarioWare: Smooth Moves” will tell you, there’s a lot of ways the Wiimote can be used, and this is completely unlike any of them.
So, what does it take to make “Let’s Tap” a worthwhile experience and not just another gaming gimmick on an already gimmick ridden console? Well, the games of course. There are five different “games” included in the package – all with multiple iterations and variations. I say “games” and not games because one of the included diversions, the Visualizer, is just that – an interactive toy included along side a four more substantial mini-games that include a challenge of some kind, and at least imply a level of competition.
Ironically, the Visualizer is one of the most entertaining parts of the package. You have five different settings that you tap to interact with, and they range from the night sky, to a flowing stream, to a blank canvas, and depending on your tapping pattern, and how hard you tap, different things display on the screen. If you tap a certain pattern in the night sky, fireworks in the shape of a star might appear, or a different pattern might net you a carp in the stream. It’s very simple, and may get old kind of fast since you don’t know exactly what patterns you are trying to do, but it is a fun little timewaster.
In addition to the Visualizer there are four other modes – Tap Runner, Rhythm Tap, Bubble Voyager, and Silent Blocks. Fortunately, the only thing that all these modes have in common is the fact that they all require you to tap… a lot. Tap Runner is a basic race where you just need to cross the finish line first, tapping all the way; the faster you tap the faster you run, and if you need to jump a hurdle, just tap harder. Rhythm Tap is a variation of a rhythm game where you have to tap according to the onscreen cue – be it hard, medium or soft taps to go along with the song that is playing. Bubble Voyager seems the most out of place because it’s basically a tap controlled, side-scrolling shmup. Tap to control the speed and height of your character, and tap harder to fire a missile – it’s pretty challenging, and you better watch out for those landings. You’ll recognize Silent Blocks very quickly, as it’s a variation of the classic game Jenga where you have to tap to carefully remove the blocks. Again, each of these games are very unique experiences, all enhanced by the tapping controls.
All-in-all, “Let’s Tap” is a fun little package, but there are a few downsides to the game. First of all, navigating the menus using taps and double taps to select things is one of the most frustrating things I have ever done in a video game. Fortunately, Probe realized this and offer the Wiimote as a pointer, as an option when selecting things, so it’s not a huge problem, but it is still a little annoying to have to pick up and put down the controller all the time.
Add to that the fact that you absolutely need your own playing surface to enjoy the game, and the frustration continues. “Let’s Tap” is very obviously designed to be enjoyed by more than one person at a time, but, if those two or more people are using the same playing surface, even if they are feet apart, there’s a good chance they are going to be affecting each others game. The vibrations from one player’s controller will very readily register on the other player’s, making it hard to really control what is happening in the game. This can be very easily solved by making sure that each player has their own area, box, or tapping surface to tap on, but not everyone has boxes laying around just to play this game … oh … wait … the Japanese do.
And finally, there’s the little problem of how accurately the tapping registers. The different modes of the game ask that you tap lightly, medium, and hard to do certain things. All of those are pretty arbitrary, and the game’s tutorial doesn’t really do a great job of differentiating between the different tapping levels. This can lead to all different kinds of problems throughout the game, but it is something that can be overcome with practice. However, that really hurts the idea of this being a pick-up-and-play party game.
Under the right circumstances “Let’s Tap” is a really interesting, unique, and fun game, but outside of those circumstances, some gamers will find themselves a little challenged to enjoy it. On the up side, the game is priced perfectly at $30, and, at that price, it seems to be a pretty good value, but I would have been willing to shell out the extra few bucks for the box like Japan got. “Let’s Tap” is worth a try if you’re looking for something a little different to play with some friends, but just be aware that you may hit a bump or two along the way if you aren’t prepared for this game’s unique experience.
“Let’s Tap” is a Wii game developed by Probe and was published by Sega on June 12, 2009.