The Game: As a beleaguered bartender, you have to serve drinks to an endless onslaught of bar patrons, never allowing them to reach the end of the bar. You must also pick up empty glasses as they slide back toward you, and you can also grab a tip whenever one briefly appears. Clearing the screen of all pixellated hardened drinkers – erm, sorry, soft drinkers – takes you to the next screen, and other scenarios, including outdoor sporting events. (Bally/Midway-Sega, 1984)
Memories: When the U.S. video game industry fell on hard times, Sega sold off its American division to Bally/Midway. Having previously tried to maintain more direct control of home versions of its arcade games through an overall licensing deal with CBS Electronics‘ game division, Bally/Midway now had a more direct pipeline to the consumer market by using the home video game division that Sega had launched to exploit its own arcade titles (such as Buck Rogers: Planet Of Zoom and Congo Bongo).
Tapper was one of only three resulting games from that sounded-promising-on-paper collaboration before the home video game industry crashed altogether (the other two were 2600 versions of Spy Hunter and Up ‘N Down). The unlikely pairing of arcade giants also brought the laser disc game Astron Belt to U.S. arcades, but not before Dragon’s Lair had stolen a good deal of its thunder.
Tapper bears a striking similarity to some of the best Parker Brothers games for the 2600: it jettisons just enough graphic detail that it’s still the same game. (And as you can tell from the screen shots, it’s the “Mountain Dew” version of Tapper.) It still moves pretty fast – in fact, once the game really gets going, the controls start to feel just a little bit sluggish compared to the action on the screen. Either that or my bartender had a little too much, uh, Mountain Dew in between serving up frosty mugs of Mountain Dew for his unruly patrons.
Tapper is still a lot of fun in almost any form, and this is an unexpectedly good translation of the arcade game.