Atari 8-bit

Review by Review Contest 2003!



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Tapper is one of my favorite video games - among my top 10 most played games at home. At the arcade, beer is the beverage of choice; at home its Root Beer, or Mountain Dew. Mountain Dew in this version. Your job as Bartender is to get the beverages to your thirsty customers, and then pick up their empty glasses. They enter one end of the bar, and slowly move towards the other, until they get their drink. Then, they either take it and leave as a happy customer, or stop - drink it - slide their glass back to you - and continue walking towards you, waiting for another round. Fortunately, you are stationed at the other end of the bar with a bottomless keg and an infinite supply of glasses. Every press of your button fills up another drink and slides it down the bar to the next customer. Sounds easy enough right? Well, you have to continue serving until the bar is emptied - in all 4 bar counters at once.

tapperatari8bit.gif (4963 bytes)You cannot serve more drinks than are needed or you'll be sorry. A customer already drinking, or watching a floor-show will ignore another beverage. So, if you slide one glass too many, it slides by and crashes - and you lose a life. If you don't catch all the mugs they slide back, again, you lose a life. Finally, if you allow any patrons to reach your end of the bar, they grab you and beat you up, and again, you lose one of your 5 lives. A bonus life is earned at 50,000 points, and some time(s) later. I have not played well enough to determine these as yet.

There are 4 different bar scenes, each representing another level. There are 2, 3, 4 and 4 rounds respectfully to each level, with every round and every level getting progressively faster, with more customers. The 3rd and 4th bars are split such that every other counter is facing the opposite direction. This is enough to drive you nuts. But to me it is the all-time most challenging hand-eye coordination classic video game ever. Level 1 then follows level 4, but it is much faster each time around.

You do get a short breather after completing a level, when you enter the bonus round. Here, you get to play "Beer Hunter" as Bob & Doug MacKenize called it, where all but one beverage can is shaken up. The mad beverage shaker, Sneaky Pete, then mixes them all up and you have to keep track of which one wasn't shaken. Guess right and get a nice bonus to your score. Guess wrong and get a wet head. There is also a brief reprieve if you serve the right customer very quickly. When you do, they leave a tip on the table and you have a few seconds to run down the bar and grab it. If you collect it, the bar stage is lit up and filled with dancing girls. This instantly stops most of the crowd from moving as they watch the show. You'll still get a few who want their beverage, and more who'll pop into the bar, so you never completely get a rest. There's just no stopping until the bar is cleared. If you take too long to clear the bar, the patrons all whip their glasses back at you so fast that you are guaranteed to miss one of them.

For the 8 bit Atari, Tapper is not that easy a cartridge to find, so you'll have better luck finding this on disk, or emulation. More specific details are: Controls, Gameplay, Graphics, Sound, and Addictiveness.

The controls are excellent. 4 directional movement and firing of the joystick work to perfection. No glitches here, and an improvement in firing in the Atari 8-bit version. Instead of a built in delay between pouring glasses, this version allows you to pour the beverages as fast as you can push the button. Cool!

The gameplay appears to be complete, but the tips are few and far between on the Atari 8-bit version.

The graphics are a real disappointment with this version. The C64, CV, and Atari 2600 versions blow this one away. The customers are so hard to make out relative to the background colors that you cannot tell if they are moving or still drinking. This problem culminates in level 4 where it is nearly impossible to discern. The color mixtures are also poor on the bonus round, and I can only get about 50% of the bonuses, compared with 95% on all other versions.

The sound is fine including a noise for every beverage poured, and every customer popping in. These sounds are all very critical to the Gameplay as you cannot be watching every location on the screen at once.

This game is really addictive, but the graphics make it much more frustrating than any other home version. So, unless you really want to be challenged as a bartender, try out another home version as well.

Atari 8-bit Designer: Ken Jordan, also listed for the SEGA version for the Atari 5200, which probably never made it to a prototype.

*Note: Screen shot is of the Commodore 64 version.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 25, 2005 09:34 PM