MANUFACTURER: BALLY MIDWAY
Overview and game play
Tapper is an action game for 1-2
players that was moderately successful in the arcades and was converted
to some home computers such as the C64. The game was designed and
programmed by Steve Meyer and the graphics were by Scott Morrison and
Tapper’s sound was made by Elaine Ditton.There were three versions of
Tapper released: Root Beer, Budweiser, and Sun- tary (UK) and Tapper
features one of the earliest forms of in-game advertising.
The main character in the game (as well as the guy in Domino Man and one of the lumberjacks in Timber) is based on a Marvin Glass employee named Mike Ferris who had the same moustache and bald head and wore a red T-shirt all the time. This game was play tested in a Chicago-area Rush Street bar called “The Snuggery” with much positive feedback. Digitized belches were going to be used in the game, but were excluded from the final version. The early prototype of the machine that Morrison threw together used a Gorf joystick, an Atari joystick, 4 phone buttons, and a few other gizmos. A secret of the game is to see the designers credits: just hold down both tappers and both joysticks then hit the 1P and 2P buttons while the logo is filling up with beer in the attract mode.
One coin is required per player and each player takes turns to control a bartender in a busy pub who must serve drinks to increasingly demanding customers. The pub is split into 4 bars and the player can make the bartender switch between bars by pushing up or down on the joystick. A beer tap is located at the end of each bar and to serve a customer, the player must press button 1 to fill a glass and releasing button 1 will cause the bartender to slide the glass to the customer, who slowly moves towards the bartender. A beer glass will not be released until button 1 is released, so if a customer is not ready to be served then the bartender can wait or move to another bar with (button 1 still depressed) to serve someone else. In the event that a customer is drinking or not ready to be served and a glass has been served to them, it will smash on the floor and the player will loose one of the 3 lives he starts with, (represented by some frosty beer glasses at the top of the screen). If a customer has been kept waiting too long and has reached the end of the bar where they are standing, they will grab the bartender (if he is there) and throw him along the bar and he will loose one of his 3 lives. The player is awarded different scores for serving different customers, depending on how quickly they drink: a cowgirl (50); a basketball player (75); a drunk man (100) and an alien (150). It is also possible to move the bartender along the bar he is standing next to by moving the joystick left or right to move him in those directions. This ability becomes important later on in the game as the action becomes more frantic and for the player to collect food that randomly appears on the bars for bonus points. When all the customers have been served enough, the stage will be over and the bartender will pour himself a beer before starting the next stage.
The overall game play in Tapper is fun and similar to some “game and watch” handheld games that were popular in the 1980’s. Some bonus rounds appear where the bar tender has to identify a beer that has not been shaken, (failure results in beer being sprayed in his face!) and these increase the games appeal as well as adding more fun.
The cartoon style graphics of Tapper are very good for 1983, the date of its release. The main character is humourous and well animated and there is plenty of humour in his animations such as how he clutches his head when he has dropped a glass. The customers at the bars are all well drawn and some extra characters sometimes make an appearance such as dancing girls. These little details contribute to the atmosphere and game play and make Tapper a more enjoyable game. The backgrounds change after a few stages as the game progresses and so do the customers to keep the game interesting.
During the game some pleasant chip based music plays to the tune called “Oh, Susannah!” There are spot sound effects for every action in the game, such as moving between bars, sliding pints of beer and a sound for when a glass breaks. The sound effects are not accurate representations of what one would hear in real life, but are appropriate for each corresponding action on-screen.