When iPhone OS 3.0 launched with in-app purchases, it was inevitable that Tapulous would add this feature to a future version of their smash hit rhythm game, Tap Tap Revenge. However, the company has unfortunately taken its implementation a step too far, to the point where the customer feels nickel-and-dimed from the moment they open the app. This, along with cluttered menus, a narrow scope in available music, and unstable online play, make for a disappointing sequel.
If you have never played a Tap Tap game before, it’s a rhythm music game much like console phenomenons Rock Band and Guitar Hero. However, due to the iPhone’s screen size, there are only three frets. You can also turn on arrows that are hit by tilting the device, but these often get in the way. The game is still a lot of fun at its core, though, and all the songs are the original recordings (even if the majority are by indie artists).
Shake it like a Polaroid picture.
The biggest upgrade in TTR3 is the new interface. Aesthetics aside, you now can tap a star power button as opposed to shaking the device to activate the special bonus mode. The multiplier is now always visible, instead of just making brief appearances, and a similar vertical bar allows you to determine your tap accuracy at a glance. Underneath your current score is an indicator of where in the song you are.
This isn’t enough to save TTR3 from seeming like a paid downgrade, though. When you first open the game, there are three tracks to play. The online store hosts about 100 more for free, plus a new song every week. The majority of these are not by hit artists and don’t include custom skins, which was a bit of a disappointment after seeing the extensive catalog of available tracks for purchase.
We’ve been slimed!
Unlike similar rhythm games that give you the content that the average player is interested in (the ‘hits’), these must be bought in artist packs: 2 songs for $0.99 or 5 songs for $2.99. When viewed in relation to Tapulous’ premium artist Tap Tap games, you are getting less bang for your buck. Also, any premium content you may have previously bought must be re-purchased in this game. TTR2 allowed for free imports, so this was disappointing.
Constant ads for paid content intrude around the game constantly. This nickel-and-diming technique only upsets customers, and we hope Tapulous rethinks their approach to it.
For the most part, the available music is very narrow in scope. It seems as if everyone who does not fit into the general pop audience (which we admit is quite large) got the short end of the stick. Even older rock acts such as Jane’s Addiction only had their most recent work included.
Will there be fallout from TTR3′s in-app purchases?
The menus in TTR3 are a pain to navigate due to the slow responsiveness and clutter. Moving the option wheel on the main screen or moving through tons of slow-loading pages just to add an accessory to your avatar is a pain. Previous Tap Tap games had relatively simple menus that worked perfectly, and we wish Tapulous had kept them.
Online head-to-head multiplayer is just as problematic as previous versions. Constant lag over 3G and wifi on our 3GS made this timing-based game nearly impossible to play. The idea is not bad, but some changes (likely server-side) need to be made.
Not everything is bad about the new Tap Tap, however. The new battling feature, which allows you to compete against or challenge another player to beat your score asynchronously, was great for playing against friends. Also, you now gain levels and gold to buy apparel for your customizable avatar. This was purely aesthetic, but still gave the game a little more meaning.
If you need your Tap Tap fix, go download Tap Tap Revenge 2 for free instead of paying for this lesser version. That version already includes a few hundred tracks and a decent amount of free premium content.