Fred Astaire would love this. And he'd be bloody good at it too. Leaping from the mind of one of the men responsible for Sonic the Hedgehog, Let's Tap is the first game to emerge from Yuji Naka's newly formed Prope studios, with old friends Sega handling publishing duties.
The game is built solely around the innovative control system of tapping on a surface, with no direct contact with the Wii remote required. Instead, you place the controller flat on the tap boxes provided and let your fingers dance away like the aforementioned Mr. Astaire after a crazy bender with Ginger Rodgers, with your rhythm and timing providing the control and ultimately the rewards.
What's surprising is how incredibly unique and tactile the tapping control system is, completely divergent from the broad strokes and big gestures you'd normally associate with a Wii title. The sensitivity of the Wii remote detects every subtle touch and tap perfectly making for a satisfyingly distinctive experience on the Wii without a sensor bar in sight.
Let's Tap is essentially a light and frothy party game affair, comprised of five different game types that each utilise the tapping control system in remarkably different ways. You'll come for the gimmick, stay for the games though, as each is quietly addictive and will keep your fingers drumming away for hours.
First on the list is Tap Runner, which pits four transparent little jelly baby sprinters against one another in a frantic race for the finish line. A steady, gentle rhythm is required to get your runner going with a heavy jab making it leap over hurdles. Losing the rhythm will cause your avatar to slow down, stumble and trip while getting carried away and tapping too hard will make him jump on the spot losing valuable seconds in the process. It pays to be careful and deliberate in your tapping then, unless you want to spend the entire race falling flat on your face.
Of the five games, Tap Runner is the most easily accessible, providing instantaneous fun, especially in multiplayer. Steep inclines, speed boosts, rope swings, balloon pumping, tightropes and other hazards and obstacles make for a challenging and enjoyable game where no two races ever turn out the same. What makes it more compelling however, is the way in which the control input responds so efficiently to your drumming. It's quite a revelatory feat that the Wii remote is sensitive enough to respond to even the most subtle of vibrations.
Silent Blocks is a game of Jenga-like block removal, with your light taps gradually coaxing a block out from an ever-growing tower of thin, teetering pentagonal slices. The idea is to match reds and blues in stacks to create bronze blocks, which in turn form silver blocks, gold, ruby and so forth. In single player it's a race against the clock to reduce the tower to a single precious block, but in multiplayer Silent Blocks can become every bit as mercilessly competitive as Tap Runner.
And like Tap Runner, sessions of Silent Blocks can cause the hours to melt away as you frantically drum away on the tapping box, wearing it away into a sagging, useless lump of cardboard. Thankfully, any tissue box is a simple replacement and indeed most surfaces do a pretty decent job to varying degrees of effectiveness.
In fact, anyone who enjoys absently hammering away on a tabletop will feel right at home playing Rhythm Tap, Let's Tap's answer to Rock Band or Guitar Hero with its reams of horizontally flowing notes that scroll along the screen waiting for your well-timed to taps to rap out a nice little J-pop ditty. It's bit overly simplistic perhaps, but still rewards anyone with a modicum of dexterity. Weaving together the disparate elements of the track together in multiplayer is rewardingly fun too.
Bubble Voyager and Visualiser round out the package, but can quite easily be overlooked as lightweight shooter and casual dalliance respectively. Bubble Voyager is arguably the most throwaway game in Let's Tap, but still offers plenty of frenetic fun, which gets particularly frenzied in multiplayer.
Visualiser is made up of five varieties of interactive visual effects to manipulate and play with. It's not strictly a game, but more of an added bonus distraction. However, it'll still manage to unavoidably draw you into its tapping charms with a host of interesting idiosyncrasies that make it a worthwhile diversion from the other four more traditional game types. Who'd have thought that messing around with Japanese ink, childlike paintings and pond life would be so absorbing?
It's all credit to that brilliantly innovative control interface that Let's Tap is so effortlessly addictive, entertaining and enjoyable. In single player it's deceptively compelling, but in multiplayer the game is enormously compulsive and will attract the curiosity of anyone who happens to stumble upon you playing it. Let's Tap is yet another fantastic social party game for the Wii that provides a markedly different experience to anything you've ever played before. The method of control makes you wonder what future plans Naka-san has in mind in the realms of tapping, some of which were alluded to in our interview with the man himself earlier in the year.
As far as social Wii games go, Let's Tap is a great addition to the immense stable already available for the console and more than worth a punt. Bold, colourful and smile-inducing, it's a work of unique tapping genius, which is definitely something you don't hear everyday.
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