Review: Tapulous Metallica Revenge
In previous iterations of Tapulous's Tap Tap series of rhythm games, there have been times when we've felt like the level designs were the stars of the show, but in Metallica Revenge ($5) -- the icon says Tap Tap Metallica -- the visuals take a back seat to the music and gameplay innovations, which at times and by design hit you like a ton of bricks. From the well-known band's hard rock soundtrack, which pushes the limits of the iPhone's speaker in a good way, to some major changes to the classic Tap Tap "keep the beat by tapping the screen along with the music" gameplay, Metallica Revenge falls short only in its level designs. Even then, it doesn't miss the mark by much.
At first—assuming that you choose the game’s Career mode—it might be hard to understand why Tapulous decided to sell Metallica Revenge as a standalone application rather than as an artist-themed In-App Purchase for the recently released Tap Tap Revenge 3. Other than a tweak that lets you earn and hold up to two 16x point multipliers at once, tapping specially colored balls to grab them and the sides of the screen to activate them, Career mode feels a lot like other Tap Tap titles, complete with the same general gameplay: three rails of balls fall from the top of the screen to the bottom, passing through a line that lets you know it’s the right time to tap each ball. Each difficulty level’s boss stages introduce four-rail and five-rail playfields, which carry through to songs at the following difficulty level, making for some of the most insane challenges yet in a Tap Tap title. Four-rail levels are vertical, while five-rail levels are horizontal, making good use of the wide screen. We continue to want to see these multi-rail fields appear in the main Tap Tap game, as well.
These familiar-enough tweaks pale by comparison with what Tapulous has added to the new Arcade mode, a one-player version of the Bluetooth wireless two-player Battle mode. Shortly after you start tapping to the beat, you’ll notice that bombs are falling from the sky, rolling down rails, and exploding in your face with a shake of the iPhone’s vibration actuator. Revenge doesn’t explain what to do unless you check the tutorial, but you’ll soon figure out that 16x point balls sometimes become shields rather than multiplier bonuses, protecting you from the falling bombs, and you need to avoid tapping the rolling ones, too.
Other tricks such as dot-shrinkers, a music-stopping tolling bell, and screen-obscuring grease slicks appear, too. It’s all crazy stuff, merging fittingly with the game’s apocalyptic artwork, which alternates between a gritty desert highway and a road through volcanic lava, both with lightning bolts in the foreground and explosions off in the distance. Though Metallica Revenge never rises to the artistic, video-matching level designs of Tap Tap Coldplay—ones that we still think are Tapulous’s highlight, and the standard its other titles should match or exceed—the level art here is otherwise appropriate to the music, if hugely repetitive.
Sonically, Metallica Revenge is a beast, albeit with fewer tracks than either Tap Tap Coldplay (13) or Lady Gaga Revenge (14). Metallica contributes only 10 songs to this title, but they’re stompers: Fuel, Enter Sandman, One, and Master of Puppets rip through the iPhone’s speaker with an intensity that even those who aren’t fans of the band will appreciate as powerful, their sullen, angry themes speaking with force that hasn’t been heard in any of the prior standalone Tap Tap artist releases.
It’s a striking contrast with the dreamy alt rock, pop, and dance music found in other Tapulous titles, and surely will appeal to a different crowd. If Tapulous repeats what it has done in the past, Metallica Revenge may gain additional tracks in a free post-release update, but in its current form, the tracks here are strong, and given extra gameplay legs thanks to the three, four, and five-rail variations of their tapping patterns.
Overall, Metallica Revenge is another solid rhythm/tapping release for Tapulous, with a soundtrack that’s short but striking, graphics that are highly appropriate if not diverse enough from stage to stage, and gameplay that starts out familiar but quickly becomes substantially different from what Tapulous has done before—at least, outside of career mode. As we’ve said before, it’s high time for the main Tap Tap Revenge series to incorporate more of the innovations that are being brought into the company’s artist-specific titles; for the time being, only fans of Metallica are going to get to experience the worthwhile new gameplay twists found in this title. If you’re amongst them, consider yourself lucky to be able to fully enjoy what Tapulous has included here.