Tapper (Arcade) is the Retro Game of the Week for 21 November, 2016

Released: 1983
Publisher:  Bally Midway
Developer: Marvin Glass and Associates
Platform: Arcade
Genre: Action
Played on: MAME, gamepad

A new PC and a new, re-energized love for retro gaming means I’m back and ready for more games that you probably never knew existed!

Tapper is a cool one.  The game itself is incredibly simple, and almost seems like what a smartphone game would be these days.  You are in charge of a series of bars with a ton of thirsty customers waiting for drinks, slowly advancing down the bar.  You are in charge of filling up a mug of beer and sending it sliding down the bar so that the thirsty patron can grab it.  The customer can either take it with them and leave or send the mug sliding back down the bar, waiting for another drink.  If you let a customer reach the end of the bar, let a returning empty mug crash onto the floor, or send a full mug down the bar with no one along the bar to recieve it, you lose a life and start the round over.  Some customers will also leave tips at the very far end of the bar, where you can run down the bar to grab them (you can also run down to grab empty mugs, and any time you run down you don’t have to take the time to run back as any action will immediately move you to a bar end), and this money allows dancers at the top of the screen to distract some customers that would normally be advancing down the bar, waiting for you to serve them, giving you a little breathing room.

Sure, at first this seems simple enough, and the first couple of levels are indeed cleared very easily as long as you are quick to throw the drinks down the bar.  But as the bars get cluttered with more and more customers and more and more start chunking the glasses back for more, giving you many bars full of empty glasses threatening to break on the floor all at once, the game gets very hectic and quite challenging.  You have to prioritize where to go and what to do and if you can risk (and have time to) run down a bar to grab a tip that might give you a little breathing room.

The interesting thing?  The game’s blatant ad for Budweiser beer plastered everywhere.  Given that games of the time seemed to be geared for young people and be family-friendly for the most part, the idea of chunking beers down a bar and a Budweiser ad staring them in the face is a bit jarring.  This certainly prompted a different version of the game, Root Beer Tapper, that was the same game except obviously with root beer instead of the harder stuff, and a generic ad for root beer in place of the Budweiser logo.  Regardless, I remember many more arcades carrying the original Tapper game back in those days rather than its kinder, friendlier alternative.

Regardless, the game is fun and a nice, challenging arcade game to quench your thirst for simple action gaming.

This Tapper’s for you.