Rhythm games are certainly nothing new, and publishers EA and Activision have both made meaty profits from the genre in recent years. However, on a much smaller scale, iOS developers Tapulous have been dominating the iTunes App Store in a similar vein since 2008.
Back then, not long after the App Store opened, their debut game Tap Tap Revenge amassed over a million players in its first month of availability. It went on to become the most-downloaded free game of 2008 and in 2010, Tapulous was bought out by The Walt Disney Company for an undisclosed amount. Since then the Tap Tap series has surpassed a ridiculous thirty-five million downloads. Tap Tap Revenge Tour, released a couple of weeks ago on the 12th July, is the latest addition to the franchise.
To those not in the know, Tap Tap Revenge Tour is a rhythm game where players use their fingers to tap on the screen in time with the beat of a particular song. With each track, you are presented with three flowing lanes where colour coded buttons scroll down the screen at varying speeds. When the button is at the bottom of the screen, the player must tap it (or a similar gesture) with the right timing for a maximum score.
On an easier difficulty, it might be a simple beat that players have to tap out across the three lanes. However on harder difficulties, the game introduces a mixture of gestures such as swiping, simultaneous finger tapping, holding down ‘notes’ and even shaking the device. Chaining together combos, or successful tapping streaks adds point multipliers or special bonus rewards to improve your high-score. It’s a basic and relatively unoriginal concept, but its execution is near perfect.
Tap Tap Revenge Tour is frantic and eye-burning, yet addictive and rewarding at the same time. Generally players will opt to play the game with both thumbs, allowing for quick access to the left and right tracks and simply stretching either thumb across for the middle lane. Often the game will force you to use certain hands; for example, when the right lane requires a button (or lane) to be held down, then the left thumb will have to do the work - and vice versa.
While the game obviously runs on the iPad, there is no version native to the device, so your only option is to double-size the iPhone app. This method isn't really recommended, as, since it's not designed to work here, the controls don't really work when scaled up. It’s a much better experience on your iPhone for sure. Except for the fact that you'll be looking slightly deranged on public transport, tapping and shaking away like an idiot with your tongue sticking out of your gob.
The game requires good reflexes and dexterity, but what really makes Tap Tap Revenge Tour appealing is the music selection. I was amazed at the variety of music on hand; ranging from artists like Nirvana through to Katy Perry. Tracks can be purchased within the app and the prices vary, often rewarding customers for buying packs of songs with reduced costs. For example a two song bundle by Thirty Seconds to Mars might cost $0.99, but Lady Gaga’s whopping twenty-four track pack only costs $9.99.
Gaga, Perry, Bieber, Jessie J, and LMFAO were all expected. However seeing tracks from Metallica, A Perfect Circle, and even Korn restored some faith in today’s society. Considering the game’s teenie-bopper vibe, I’m not entirely sure what demand there is for the alt-rock genre here, but needless to say I was grateful as my entire reviewing experience revolved around these few select tracks. For the app’s 12+ age rating, a lot of the tracks have been censored to be radio-friendly too (I’m pretty sure Judith was changed to say ‘frack your God’).
Tap Tap Revenge Tour is a free download and, although there are free tracks to try out, they are almost entirely all pants. The publishers have cleverly included one free track that everyone will know in an effort to entice them into trying the game out properly. However anyone caught enjoying the game will definitely need to spend upwards of at least $5 in order to get a few decent tracks in their library.
That said, anywhere around $5 is still great value for a game that whiles away half an hour or so. It can even give you a whole new appreciation for some of your favourite songs and, on the hardest difficulty, will be more than enough of a challenge to get you coming back for more.
Tap Tap Revenge Tour builds on earlier titles in the series by adding a Tour mode which takes you on a whirlwind trip around the world starting as a lowly opening act and working up to being a crowd-pleasing headliner. It also includes unique ‘skins’ to suit artists where the graphical elements are swapped out to give the game a customised look. It’s a novelty, but fans of artists like Maroon 5 and Katy Perry will certainly get a kick out of it. Basically, if the library of tracks tickles your fancy, then so should this app.