“Let’s Tap,” upon a first glance, looks really, really bland. Like every other shovelware minigame collection for Wii, its generic box sports sparkly graphic designs, photos of people playing the game, and a chintzy back cover boasting about its various minigames. Appearances can be deceiving.
“Let’s Tap” is one of the few console releases by Prope, the mobile-focused game development company founded by industry legend Yuji Naka (of Sonic Team and now Balan Company fame), and the least immediately interesting of their already-niche catalog. “Ivy the Kiwi?” and “Rodea the Sky Soldier” both have their own cult followings; “Let’s Tap” was sentenced to languish in undying obscurity with the likes of “Fishing Resort” and “Let’s Catch” for merely looking uninteresting, and that’s a tad unfair.
Beating Nintendo to the punch by 10 years, “Let’s Tap” uses a cardboard box as a controller peripheral: the Wiimote (which I shall never refer to by any other name) is placed face-down on top of any box you have lying around, allowing you to play by lightly tapping the surface. Three different strengths of tap can be read, and rapid double taps count as their own unique inputs. With the exception of menu navigation, which is irritatingly finicky when not using standard button controls, this control scheme works, and getting used to it is its own engaging progression.
Of the five minigames in “Let’s Tap,” two – Tap Runner and Rhythm Tap – take center stage, with Tap Runner being by far the most fleshed-out and Rhythm Tap being the most challenging. Tap Runner is a series of races across obstacle courses against friends or AI, and it has the most depth out of any of the minigames by a long shot due to its variety of intricacies and mechanics; Rhythm Tap is a simple rhythm game in the style of the far superior Taiko Drum Master that requires perfect timing and precision to achieve its highest grades.
The other three minigames, Silent Blocks, Bubble Voyager, and Visualizer, are all short-term distractions, being a Jenga/2048 combination, Game B from Balloon Trip with guns, and five interactive screensavers respectively. Tap Runner is a great introduction to the nuances of the tapping control scheme and the best minigame for party play, as it’s a chaotic frenzy of tripping, dashing, executing tricks and finding effective shortcuts. It can be played casually as a slapstick Mario Party minigame of sorts or as a tense racing game, giving it miles more fun and replay value than any of the other modes. Tap Runner also pulls triple duty as the major single-player campaign, topped off with a tense and difficult finale: the precision-testing Catapult Race, where exact tap control mastery is demanded.
Tap Runner is a compelling game on its own and well worth buying “Let’s Tap” for, but little else really lives up to it.
Rhythm Tap is shallow and unforgiving as a single-player experience and far less fun in multiplayer than other peripheral rhythm games, Silent Blocks is a simple exercise in relaxation, Bubble Voyager is mind-numbingly slow, and Visualizer lacks the variety or depth to sustain itself longer than a few minutes. While every minigame has a decent if forgettable backing track and a sort of sterile visual spark, only Tap Runner and the novelty of the game as a whole really shine.
Is it worth getting “Let’s Tap” in 2021, when there are over a dozen Mario Parties? I would say so, if only just barely. There’s certainly no similar alternative, and even a sealed copy will sell for cheap online; simply put, it’s a bizarre and original tech demo that never fully realizes its own desire to be milquetoast and a rare example of a video game company trying and failing to encapsulate their concept of maximum banality. “Let’s Tap” is still far from a low-effort cash-grab, and similar to other experimental Wii games like the ART STYLE series in that buying it is a bit of a light gamble. I’d recommend it if and only if you want to try something new.
To repeat the cliché, “it won’t be for everyone,” but what Tap Runner achieves will make it worthwhile for some.
Gaget is a student in Fairbanks public schools, and has developed a number of free games. He is a neutral game reviewer.
If You Play
Platform – Wii, iOS
Price – $14.99 on average
Internet Usage (accounts for download size) – N/A
ESRB Rating – E
Release Date – 12/18/2008
Genre (if applicable) – Minigame collection
Developer – Prope
Challenge – Moderate
Novelty – High
Polish – Moderate