Review: Tap Tap Revenge by Tapulous
This review originally appeared within iLounge’s iOS Gems series within the compilation article, iPhone Gems: Pool, Puzzle, Music + Slots Games. Additional details may be found in the original article.
Though we tried Tapulous’s rhythm game Tap Tap Revenge (Free) for the first time literally months ago, and have previously covered it in our news section, we opted not to review it until now. The reason: though this game has come to enjoy tremendous success as a free download, and has continued to evolve since its initial release, it didn’t initially excite us at all. As a derivative of earlier games such as Phase for Click Wheel iPods, and predecessor PlayStation titles such as Frequency, Tap Tap Revenge seemed to have stripped most of the frills out of these games, leaving a super-simple music and tapping experience for iPhone and iPod touch users. But updates have shown that the developer is committed to making it better.
In Phase-like fashion, Tap Tap Revenge presents you with three beams of colored light, down which glowing balls stream towards a checkpoint at the bottom of the screen. You touch each beam’s bottom terminus as the balls hit the checkpoint to rack up points, and occasionally, arrows fall down the beams, and you need to shake the device left, right, or down. The combination of tapping and shaking now makes Tap Tap Revenge a little more interesting than it would have been with tapping alone; there’s also a two-player simultaneous tapping mode where both sides of the screen become tapping zones.
Really, the only reason to care about the balls and arrows is that they roughly track the beats of songs that are playing in the background. Notably starting with Sony’s original PlayStation Parappa the Rapper, prior games in this genre have either included exclusive, catchy music and interesting background graphics that keep you interested in hitting buttons, or other moving art set to beat-heavy tracks from famous musicians. Phase actually let you use tracks from your own iTunes library. Tap Tap Revenge doesn’t do any of that. Instead, the songs now vary from included freebies that you’ve never heard of to new, free tracks offered every Thursday from an increasingly familiar array of artists, and downloadable tracks. This week’s happened to be a song from Katy Perry, and every week brings the prospect of something better, but the list of new downloadable songs is filled with unfamiliar artists rather than ones you might want to tap along to. The ability to add new music is a nice differentiator, but Harmonix and Apple’s approach with Phase—generating tap patterns based on your existing library—was better.
The counterbalance, of course, is Tapulous’s asking price. Given that Tap Tap Revenge is totally free, it’s hard to complain much about everything it’s missing by comparison with prior titles—real background art, better music, and more compelling rhythm gameplay—but it does feel like a work in progress that is continually becoming better. As it stands today, we’d call it a good freebie that has the strong potential to become great in a sequel. iLounge Rating: B.