Last fall when Sonic creator Yuji Naka unveiled a new game that he claimed even penguins could play, we were genuinely optimistic. It was impressive to see that the Wii remote was sensitive enough to register players tapping on a surface, and hands-on demos proved that it really did work. Now that we've had a chance to put Let's TAP through its paces, does it make a lasting impression, or is it touch and go?
Let's TAP is composed of five simple games all played by tapping your fingers on a cardboard box. Players race through obstacle courses in tap runner. Rhythm tap gives manic dashboard drummers a stage for their compulsion. Silent blocks mixes Jenga with Dr. Mario. Bubble voyager plays much like the NES classic Balloon Fight. And a collection of visualizers trigger paint strokes and fireworks based on players' taps.
The amount of content for each game varies. The runner and rhythm games have 16 levels apiece, while silent blocks and bubble voyager feature endless single player modes. It's all simple fare, and you can easily see all Let's TAP has to offer in a couple hours. Sega is selling the game at a cheaper $30 price point, but for such a limited amount of content, even that seems a bit much, especially since it doesn't include the sturdy boxes packaged with the Japanese release.
You play Let's TAP by putting the Wii remote face down on the center of a cardboard box and tapping the box with your fingers. The game can distinguish between light, medium, and hard taps, but it isn't necessarily easy for you to measure the force you put behind each one.
Tap runner assigns light taps to running and hard taps to jumping, but since you're mostly tapping frantically to run as fast as possible, you may find yourself inadvertently jumping in place instead. Likewise, bubble voyager uses hard taps to fire missiles, and medium taps to send you skywards, so trying to blow away a block in front of you can result in launching your character into a deadly hazard. Practice and sensitivity adjustments can help, but unintentional inputs are still far too common.
Mix-ups aside, tap runner is the best game of the bunch with increasingly difficult obstacle courses that test your timing and provide a hectic platform for multiplayer competition. The rhythm game, meanwhile, can be hypnotic, but it's difficult to curb the strength of your taps while keeping up with the rapid beats.
The so-called endless mode in silent blocks will make you drowsy, but the alchemy variant can be addicting. The puzzle game features a match-three mechanic that offers plenty of combo opportunities, but the process of selecting a block you want to pull can be tedious. Bubble voyager, finally, has cool, challenging randomized levels, but the inconsistent controls make it needlessly frustrating.
Let's TAP is a fun diversion for an afternoon, but there's not much to keep you hooked and the charm wears off pretty quickly.
The future tapping game sticks to a simple, spacey aesthetic. There are holographic runners, trippy rhythm backgrounds, and blocks stacked in sterile environments. More often than not, however, the visuals look cheap rather than slick. The music and sound effects match the futuristic vibe with robotic vocals, and a theme song so catchy that you might never forget it.
Let's TAP is an interesting experiment that doesn't quite hold up in the long run. It's worth trying out for novelty's sake, but the short list of games and unreliable controls leave it feeling like an overly expensive tech demo.
Reviewed on Nintendo Wii.