Let's TAPlikePEGI3 Developer Prope Publisher SEGA Genre Party Platform Nintendo Wii Release Summer 2009 When acclaimed video game creator Yuji Naka split from SEGA a few years back, many had believed that he his new break-away company; Prope would never make a game worthy of anything but discard-able Bargain Bin material which no one would ever love or care about. Infact, they were my exact words when the split occurred. How wrong I was. Anything holding the SEGA brand logo over the last few years has been considered, well, trash. Quite frankly. Rehashes of Sonic, NiGHTS, Samba De Amigo made in-house and by 4th parties and published/licences through SEGA, all of them complete failures to recapture what made them so good back in the day. Even worse, was that they were very poor quality with very little endearing factors to them.


Let's GROOVE
Then, along comes Old Mr.Naka with his new company's new game; Let's TAP. A game which they say even penguins could play. Not wanting to be out done by our soon-to-be penguin overlords, I decided to pick up Let's TAP and give the game a good whirl to see if it was actually the saving grace SEGA needed to show everyone they still had some pedigree in what they dish out and if Prope was doomed to failure or on the rise to glory.

Let's TAP is basically one big party game, in the same vein as other Wii Shovelware such as Carnival Games and Babysitter Party... Putting Let's TAP next to these games is an utter insult, however. Let's TAP is an original take on the party game, something which the market has been crying out now for almost a year. It's a collection of very simple, yet highly addictive and fun games. Each of which I will review separately. These modes include Tap Runner, Rhythm Tap, Silent Block, Bubble Voyager and the Visualiser. But before we talk about them, let's talk controls.

Let's TAP puts good use to the Wii's remote and it's features. You rest the controller on a box (they kindly provide a couple of Let's TAP branded boxes with the game or you can just as easily use the Wii console box, I even used a Freeview Set-top box package-box to play on with absolutely no problems at all.) Even the slightest touch is recognised by the Wii Remote which will probably take many by surprise. Just remember, if you're an adult, you may want to adjust the Wii Remote sensitivity before going anywhere off the main menu.

The games then, Tap Runner is a very simple game and is basically a re-hash of the old track and field games from the 8-bit era where you smacked buttons as fast as you could to run. Only here, you tap. Don't get too carried away though, you pick up speed by having a consistent tapping Rhythm and strength applied with each tap. Tap too hard and you jump, which you need to clear obstacles like hurdles, electrified balls and spring traps. It's also useful for getting an advantage over other players by jumping onto ropes, ropes have to be cleared by tapping consistently in Rhythm, however it matters so much more than when running normally, as one slip up and you can kiss a whole two seconds goodbye. Racing against the CPU can seem demoralising, as novice players are, as you expect: rubbish. However, get a few friends together and you'll soon find yourself a good half an hour down without even realising it.


Swivle, swivle, swivle
Rhythm Tap is a music-Rhythm game. In time with the music, you must tap in time with circles which scroll horizontally along the screen. Think of it as a horizontal Dancing Stage game, when a circle meets a static circle on the left of the screen, the player must tap. It's not just that simple, though. Each circle has it's own strength from blue to green to orange. Blue means it only requires a small tap to acquire points, a green means that a mild tap is required and an orange circle means a strong tap is required, don't miss any circles and you get a combo. Points and maximum combo combined make up your grade from E to A. Songs very quickly become very complex as songs range from 2 Star difficulty to 10 Star difficulty in 16 stages. Most of the songs here fit with the game's overall soundtrack, a mix of distinctive Techno music. A lot of the backgrounds in this mode are all space themed as are the songs. If Let's TAP was just a game about this mode alone, it would be a very good game. But as it stands as part of a collection, it's very competent and very fun.

Silent Blocks is a Jenga-like game. You're presented with a tower of hexagon shapes of red and blue colours and you select one, select the direction to pull out and then tap on the box with moderate force to try and set up the next player's go, for better or for worse. There's two distinct modes in this game, one where each player takes it in turn to remove a block and attempt to get an item which rests ontop of the tower to the ground safely. The other is one where a player removes blocks strategically so blocks of the same colour fall ontop of each other to form bronze, silver, gold, etc hexagons. Three of each colour forms a higher value block to be created. A highly frustrating but addictive game, it's easy to just quit this mode, but persistence in the mode will definitely make the experience better. More of a single player game, but just as fun with a group who are serious about finishing the level than just messing around.

Bubble Voyager is a game based off the old 'Helicopter' games, I'm sure you've played it. The idea is simple, you tap to gain height, the more you tap the more thrust you have and keep airborne, you don't tap, you fall like a brick. Tap strongly to fire a missile. Avoid dangerous objects like spiked balls, meteors and shoot blocks to get power ups or clear obstructions. Bubble Voyager works much better in the Battle Field mode but this mode can only be done with 2 or more players. The Single Player "Endless Trip" mode can be frustrating as your poor arms will give way to cramp or just get tired after but a few minutes. The Battle Field however is a true party game, in this mode, the minigame is played over-head instead of like a 2D side scroller like the Endless Trip mode, tap to fire off in a direction and tap strongly to fire a missile again, but this game, you stop tapping to allow you to change the direction your character faces. When stopped your player will do a 360 degree turn, tap when the player is facing the way you want to move. It's then basically a case of picking up power ups and launching missiles at your enemies.


Important Notice: Play out of reach of other players. They cheat.
And finally, the visualiser is a set of, not so much games, but a scene where you tap in various different Rhythms and different strengths to find new combinations of taps to cause special sequences to occur. These special scenes include a Fireworks display, where each tap creates a firework different combination of fireworks triggers special firework displays. A lake, where each tap creates a ripple in the water, different combinations of taps show a different type of fish in the bottom corner and that fish is introduced into your river. The Paint Canvas, where each tap is a stroke of the brush, different combination of taps create different objects like a tree or butterfly. The Calligraphy board where each tap is a stroke of a traditional Japanese writing pen, different combinations result in different strokes and different characters that appear. And finally the Gem Game which is not really a visualiser. Tap and coloured balls go flying in the air, a small tap sends balls but a small hop, a large tap will send them sky bound. The idea is to use just enough force to get the balls in the cup, but beware because balls can be knocked out of these cups. The visualisers are a nice time-out from the hectic multiplayer games Let's TAP presents but are solely single player.

Visuals in the game are highly stylised. The game sure loves it's orange and green, the game is plastered in the colours. In-game, you'll be treated to some utterly gorgeous graphical awe. A lot of trickery with flat 2D surfaces and pseudo-movie sequences but done to great effect. 3D visuals in the game are made up of mostly block colours or wireframes. Some of the Rhythm Tap backgrounds are utterly awe-inspiring. However, some are also very distracting, if that was on purpose is a mystery to me, but it definitely feels like that in some instances.

Controls are impressive and as said before, definitely highlight the untapped (pun-tastic!) potential in the Wii's robust control mechanisms. Menus feel intuitive even when just using a single tap to scroll through menu items and double tapping to select menu items. It can sometimes be a chore to select something on a menu, especially since some menus consist of 16 items, scrolling through each of those several times because the game didn't recognise a double tap is slightly annoying, but can easily be solved by picking up the controller and either using the D-Pad on the Wii Remote or pointing at the screen. It never feels like the controls are unresponsive, if anything it shows just how sensitive the Wii Remote really is even without this new fangled 'Wii Motion Plus' add-on Nintendo have got lined up.


Pointless, but damn fun.
Sound is something which this game excels at. As I sit writing this review, I have the title screen music going on loop through the demos because it's one very catchy tune. Prope realised this and made the song a playable track in the Rhythm Tap mode. A lot of the music in the Rhythm Tap side of the game is very good, weird, but very catchy tunes which you'll probably be humming for days to come. It's just as stylised as the graphics in this game, having an electro/techno feel to the songs all over. The visuals and the audio come together to help make Let's TAP a very interesting and different experience for sure.

For the gamers out there as well, Prope threw in some nice little things for you. Subtle references to days gone by when Yuji Naka was best known for his work on the Sonic the Hedgehog series. For instance, the first player character in the Tap Runner mode is blue much like Sonic's shade of blue, the Tap Runner players all jump in somersaults like Sonic. There's also a track in Rhythm Tap mode called "Blue Hero". Subtle, but I'm pretty sure intentional.

Overall, Let's TAP is one hell of a party game. A party game which finally caught my attention and held it. A fun game alone and even better with a group of friends, if you're the kind of person who enjoys Mario Kart multiplayer with 3 or more friends, let me introduce you to Let's TAP, you will utterly love the game. Even if you're a 'Core' gamer and enjoy fully-fledged games like Zelda and Mario Galaxy, there's some part of Let's TAP -- if not all -- which will appeal to you. I'm unsure if Let's TAP will make it Europe-side, but just be sure if it does, it's on your 'Want' list, because the game is, hands down, the best party game on the Wii to date and one of the better multiplayer experiences on the console too.