Let’s TAP: Tap Runner

Let’s TAP: Tap Runner

What we liked:

+ Brings tap controls to iPhone
+ Ninja Warrior style courses

What we didn't like:

- No global leader boards
- No multi-player

DEVELOPER: iPrope   |   PUBLISHER: Sega   |   RELEASE: 09/25/2009
The future of Ninja Warrior.

Prope’s Wii collection of games are in your iPhone! The Let’s Tap series, famed for its vibration-based controls, now have you putting your iPhone on a tissue box so you can tap-tap-tap away. Lacking a tissue box on your morning commute, you can select the Touch mode that allows tapping on the screen or the Free mode that lets you tap any part of the phone. Having tried out all three methods, I’ll save you some time: you will want to keep a tissue box handy. With the Let’s Tap series broken into five small games for the Apple devices, we will serve up our analyses here in bite-sized reviews for each.

The first of the collection to hit your phone is Tap Runner, a racing game set in space. By tapping softly – and frequently – you control your runner’s speed. A hard tap tells your runner to jump, allowing them to leap over obstacles like hurdles, or walls. The race courses in Tap Runner are less like the local high school track and more like a sprinter’s version of Ninja Warrior. With electrified obstacles that zap the poor little guy, an escalator, tightrope and a slide what sounds like a boring proposition is actually pretty fun. The work of Sega’s Yuji Naka is recognizable. As your little racing man falls flat and you go absolutely mad waiting for him to stand up and show some hustle, visions of Sonic will cycle through your head.

Set in space and a an unknown future, the players are rather blob-like. In control of one of these ageless, sexless running machines you compete against three other runners across sixteen stages. There are four tiers with four races in each. While Stages 1-1 through 1-4 are open from the get-go, Stage 2-1 remains locked until you have medal-ed in the four prior. Since there are no onscreen d-pads your thumbs are out of the way making the screen a wide open space, with your time at the bottom and a pause in the upper right. If you are the sluggish sort an onscreen alert comes up as your competitors cross the finish line. Your top five times in each race are stored, though there are no global leader boards.

The “Don’t Move!” screen at race start is more than funny, it’s dead serious. Since the game is based on vibration if you so much as breathe too heavy during this time the race begins with your runner falling flat on their face. This is occasionally frustrating, but if environmental factors are affecting the controls too much you can adjust the game’s sensitivity. A larger oversight is that since you are not touching your phone during the game, the screen dims. This is something the game could – and should – correct.

The iPhone version of Tap Runner, while a blast to play, does not include multi-player – which is too bad. Designed as a series of party games, Tap Runner fares better than others as a single player offering. Still, the silliness of urgently tapping on a box to blow up a balloon loses some of its charm when you play by your lonesome. Lacking real-life opposition, the competitive flair would be enhanced by global leader boards. Priced at $3.99, it’s likely the money that’s going to keep gamers from trying out vibration controls on their handheld.

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