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Let's Tap has such a simple premise it almost sounds like a joke. In practice though, this game gets more nuanced control from tapping a cardboard box than most do with the full range of Wii-mote buttons and motions.
Players touch the controller just once at the start of the game by laying it face down on the provided cardboard box and then don't touch it again. From that point everything from menus to game play is controlled by single, double, gentle and hard taps.
Although it sounds like this is far too limiting to offer any in depth or challenging game play. As with other art, a limiting structure here reveals the true creativity of the game maker's (SEGA in this case) craft. Five types of game are provided, Running, Rhythm, Puzzle, Shooting and Visualisation.
The simple change from solid buttons to fragile cardboard means they can detect a range of rhythms and weights of taps.
To go with the retro control style the game has a Rez-like wire-frame 80's look and feel. This neon cut back aesthetic adds an arcadey feel to the events on offer, something that matched the button mashing control mechanic. My first race event I was reminded of Hyper Sports in my local arcade, long evenings spent hammering buttons and each player bringing their own particular technique - one handed, two handed, finger strumming or nerve jangling rapid movement.
But Let's Tap has much more going on than hammering plastic. The simple change from solid buttons to fragile cardboard means they can detect a range of rhythms and weights of taps. So in the Running activity four players have to each perfect their light finger drumming to run and then apply short hard taps to jump. In amongst this there is thrown more rhythm controlled tight-rope walking and balloon inflating, that give the races more variety.
Players need to find restraint in their movements as well as speed. It becomes so easy to over egg the pudding and, in their enthusiasm to win, end up hitting the box too hard. This results in them jumping straight up and loosing ground rapidly. As players streak ahead or fall behind the display zooms out to ensure all remain in shot - this results in some hilarious situations when someone really falls behind as players strain to see their tiny characters. A master class in video gaming party play.
The directness of the unusual control system impresses on a number of levels.
Other events aren't as instantly playable, but each exhibit that same simplicity. The pure Rhythm tapping game is not a million miles away from Kongo Bongo on the Gamecube. Players tap along with the on screen prompts in time with the song. As with other rhythm action games, this cleverly combines different percussive patterns to get up to four people drumming together.
Then there is the Puzzle activity, here players tap to select a block in a tower then tap again to select an angle, before gently drumming to remove the piece. The race is to remove the appropriate colours to combine matching stacks to create blocks of a particular colour. The game itself without the tapping is a nice idea that involves planning and strategy. With the tapping it's a very novel experience.
The shooting is a little more hit and miss, but still has its moments. At times it feels a bit of a stretch to control your craft with just tapping. But there is enough here to warrant the inclusion. This leaves the visualisation game, which in honesty is more of a novelty than a real challenge. Players trigger various effects with taps, drums and bangs on the box.
As a whole this is a great collection of games that makes the most of a very simple idea. The directness of the unusual control system impresses on a number of levels. What might have been loose and uninteresting is in practice both nuanced and entrancing. I simply loved the connection between my finger drumming and the little character sprinting across the screen.
While very young or novice players may take a while to get used to the lightness of touch required, most will soon warm to the experience. Given a little time this has to be one of the most unique and entertaining family party games we've seen to date on the Wii.
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