Review: Tapulous Tap Tap Coldplay
We've liked, but not raved over Tapulous's many prior iterations of Tap Tap Revenge -- the original Tap Tap Revenge, Nine Inch Nails Revenge, Tap Tap Dance, Christmas With Weezer, and Tap Tap Revenge 2 have all had a lot in common, and though we've seen occasional sparks of brilliance in the series, the progress from title to title has been evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Yet at some point, all the little tweaks can add up to something truly noteworthy, and Tap Tap Coldplay (aka Tap Tap Revenge: Coldplay Edition, $5) is that title: it combines an increasingly impressive graphics engine with the music of an A-list band, utilizing gameplay that is familiar without being overly easy. With the release of Tap Tap Coldplay, Tapulous has single-handedly demonstrated both the power of the iPhone OS platform and the benefits musicians can reap when properly harnessing the increasingly popular App Store.
As with earlier titles in the Tap Tap series, Tap Tap Coldplay’s gameplay can be explained in only a couple of sentences: three lines run north and south on the screen, each carrying beats that are supposed to be tapped on as they reach a horizontal gap near the screen’s bottom. Less frequently, you’ll need to shake the iPod touch or iPhone to several beats, or to activate a “Revenge” mode that increases your score, and the challenges come in juggling the tapping, shaking, and occasional holding down on a beat for a second or two. That’s it; this version of Tap Tap doesn’t introduce anything new into the gameplay.
But what Tapulous has accomplished this time out is more impressive than what it managed with NIN Revenge and Tap Tap Dance: in addition to using well-known music, it actually draws players into several of Coldplay’s videos by letting them tap their way through scenes taken from Lovers in Japan, Life in Technicolor ii, and Viva la Vida, and incorporates visual influences from the band during the core gameplay. As with these earlier titles, Tap Tap Coldplay is divided up into main levels that share a common background, and boss stages that are unlocked only by achieving acceptable scores on a certain number of main levels. The main levels have flat lines running north and south, graduating from beams of light into tubes with moving bubbles and butterflies inside as you successfully tap, while the boss stages have lines running diagonally into the distance with video elements fading in and out at the top of the screen.
Even though the animation of the video-inspired elements is extremely light, it’s effective in recalling the best moments of the videos, and accompanied by a cool twist: tap well enough to activate Revenge mode and you’ll see the spinning Chris Martin effect from the Lovers in Japan video. The team at Tapulous is definitely either comprised of Coldplay fans or extremely good at extracting the essence of their videos; it’s obvious that this title takes definite steps beyond the company’s prior titles in giving players a more complete audio and visual Coldplay experience.
Coldplay was obviously a good partner, too. In addition to letting Tapulous incorporate the video components, the ten tracks included in the app span four albums, specifically A Rush of Blood to the Head (Clocks, In My Place), Parachutes (Shiver, Yellow), X+Y (Fix You, Speed of Sound), and Viva la Vida (Life in Technicolor ii, Lost!, Lovers in Japan, and two versions of Viva la Vida), and represent some of the most popular songs from each—this isn’t a “Greatest Hits” collection with four great songs and six bad ones. If there’s any room for fans to complain, it’s in Tapulous’s double use of Viva la Vida for both the Hard and Extreme boss stages, albeit different mixes, and even then, many players will never even see the Extreme stage: starting with the Medium level of difficulty, the game becomes pretty hard, often expecting two taps at a time in rapid succession.
Assuming you have the skill to keep going, the only thing screwing up the game a little is the occasional e-mail or other iPhone background task, which is accompanied by a drop in the frame rate and most likely a missed beat or so. An on-device two-player mode splits the screen to permit players to simultaneously tap on the main level background, regardless of whether the song selected is a boss level of not; sadly, there’s no networked play mode, nor any ability to download additional tracks. Tapulous does, however, provide links to let players download the game’s tracks in DRM-free format directly from iTunes, and also provides in-app chatroom and Coldplay news feed features.
Given the recent news that one-time Apple collaborator U2 has partnered with RIM to bolster sales of that company’s Blackberry devices, Tap Tap Coldplay serves as a highly effective if indirect rebuke to any musician thinking of leaving the iTunes Store completely for greener pastures. Viewed as nothing more than a game, this title will keep players happy tapping along to both the music of a great band, but it’s more than that: the themed artwork in Tap Tap Coldplay expands upon Coldplay’s music videos, and the back-end chat, news, and iTunes Store features provide an opportunity to deepen the band’s engagement with fans. It’s hard to imagine any of this working quite so well together on a Blackberry, another cell phone, or frankly any pocket gaming device. While we’d really like to see Tapulous offer deeper gameplay and more boss-styled stages rather than the one-size-fits-all backgrounds here, we enjoyed every bit of what Tap Tap Coldplay offered, and think that’s it’s worth the $5 asking price.