On the first full day after the iTunes App Store launched to change the world forever (not an exaggeration), a brand new music game called Tap Tap Revenge by Tapulous was the top-ranked app in the store. This game let you play various songs, as dots representing their instrumental and vocal parts cascaded down three stripes towards the bottom of the screen. Our mission, which many of us chose to accept, was to tap those dots when they arrived near the bottom of the screen.
It was like Guitar Hero without the console, television, plastic guitars, or cost.
Tap Tap Revenge spawned one of the most popular franchises in iOS history, with several spin-offs such as dedicated versions for Green Day, Katy Perry, the Bieb, and no fewer than three games based on Lada Gaga alone (1, 2, 3), among many others. Tapulous was acquired by Disney about two years ago, after which the team churned out several popular iPhone games, although 2011 came and went without a single new Tap Tap Revenge game.
Somehow, Tap Tap 4 remained in the top five most popular games in iTunes for 2011, even though it had been released in November 2010. This started some wheels turning at Disney, according to what Tapulous founder (and head of Disney Mobile) Bart Decrem told Evolver.fm during a phone interview this week. We were excited to talk to him, because he’s been making music apps for iOS since day one — but also because it meant early access to what will likely be one of the most popular music apps to come out this year.
After spending some time with Tap Tap Revenge: Tour for this review, which we would have called “hands-on” except you can’t really hold an app in your hands, we’re happy to report that it succeeds in immersing you in music in a new way — and we see that as the entire point of apps like this.
I actually found myself nodding my head to the beat of Skrillex’s remix of AVICII’s “Levels,” even though it is most definitely not my jam. I have never gotten into Skrillex before, and I owe it all to the fact that I was trying to keep up with the little blobs flying down the screen.
The big new feature in this version, as the name implies, is that this is a Tour — basically, career mode. As in the career mode in Guitar Hero, the point is to defeat various stages by tapping enough notes correctly. I absolutely slaughtered the aforementioned Skrillex jam in Medium difficulty, earning 50 “notes,” which are the currency in this game, which you can use to buy new songs, or you can actually pay for them — $0.99 for two-song bundles. (Meanwhile, Picks are the currency you use to take the stage — and those cost $0.99 for ten, unless you earn them.)
However, I was defenseless against Coyote Eyes’ remix of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” in the Hard mode, which scared me too much to attempt Extreme until my chops improve. Suffice it to say that you don’t need to worry about this game being too easy.
We liked how you get to choose which songs you wish to perform at each venue in Tour mode, because it means the game doesn’t force you to repeat the same song at the same stage until you either defeat the level or hurl your iPhone into a lake (however, once you’ve picked a song, you have to defeat that song before you can move on). We also appreciate that although the name of this series has the words “Tap Tap” in it, there are actually for actions you can take on a note, depending on what it looks like: tap, flick, shake, or hold. The flick motion worked especially well in songs where you have to replicate the sound of a record scratching.
Overall, we found this to be a more engaging version of the Tap Tap concept, based largely on the career mode, Picks, and Notes — and on the fact that Tapulous/Disney is going to be injecting hundreds of songs, many of them available for free, into this game over the coming months.
Maybe tapping on screens won’t be the only way we consume music, but anything that has been this popular for this long is onto something. Anything that can get me grooving to a Skrillex jam is working some very powerful magic indeed. If you’re looking for a new way to experience some of today’s biggest hits on your iPhone, we can safely recommend Tap Tap Revenge: Tour.