Meet Nick. Nick is getting married in three weeks, and he is stressed out. But it’s not because the wedding planner canceled the flowers or because his tux is too tight. Nick is freaking out because every night his house is attacked by aliens.
If you’re in a less-than-charitable state of mind about Nick, you might think that the zombie-like creatures and tentacled fiends battering his doors and windows are a hallucination — that he’s working out his fears about marriage in a series of bizarre nightmares. But the game seems to take the danger seriously, and unfortunately so does Nick.
Nick is hands-down the most panicky, twitchy, freaked-out video game ‘hero’ in years. He races about his one-room house in an absurd nightgown and cap, whimpering to himself and screaming in terror at every loud noise. He is the antithesis of the strong-jawed protagonist.
This could have been a clichÃ©-busting breath of fresh air. It could have been funny. Mostly it’s just annoying. So annoying that sometimes we sometimes stopped playing just so the monsters would eat Nick.
“Hey alien, can you do the splits this far?”
That’s too bad, because Tap Tip Block’em is exciting and fun to play. You play from Nick’s viewpoint, defending his house during his nights of terror. There are three different houses to play in, with more doors and windows to defend in each house. You have to hammer planks across the windows, stretch chains across the doors, pile furniture on trap doors, and replace falling pieces of wall.
Each of these defenses is built with simple and intuitive combinations of taps and swipes. The game would be easy if you had all the time in the world, but you don’t. You have seconds before the door or window gives way, and you frequently have to do something extra like poke an alien in the eyestalks or spin your finger around to confuse it.
Santa sometimes drops by to give Nick a bigger hammer — we’re sticking with our hallucination theory here, and we’re trying not to think about the marital subtext — but most of the time Nick is on his own, rushing from window to door trying to barricade several entrances at once. If even one monster gets through, the level is lost.
Hope his new wife doesn’t mind Hawaiian shirts.
The earliest stages are about 30 seconds long, while the last stages require you to hold out for over two minutes. The pace and the first-person perspective will get your heart pounding and make you feel just a little bit of panic. That may or may not improve your opinion of Nick, but it’s an impressive achievement for the Capcom level designers.
Each house has six or seven stages, and once you beat all 19 stages the game unlocks a ‘Hard’ mode. It’s the same levels with more monsters and time on the clock.
The game also unlocks several extra modes as you play. Endless mode challenges you to hold out as long as you can against the alien assault, Time Attack mode measures how fast you can set ten barricades, and Glory mode is a bizarre endurance run, where you have to survive ten levels in a row using instant barricades and house-repairing presents against a ridiculous number of monsters.
There’s a lot to do in Tap Tip Block’em, and the fast and furious gameplay is perfect for mobile devices. Nick’s blubbering may even help set the mood, but if he annoys you, just go ahead and turn the sound off. Now if only you could do that to those crazy relatives at real weddings…