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Update June 9 2010: this title no longer available through XBLA due to some copyright issues of some sort.

Root Beer Tapper

Back in the day, my parents would worry about me heading to the arcade or the local Dairy Queen to play videogames.  Thereís nothing to worry about, my brother and I would say, thereís nothing bad in the games we play!  All we did was race cars that would break into 3 wheels and explode (Pole Position), shoot arrows with balloons carrying wolves (Pooyan), and shoot rows upon waves of aliens (Galaxian, Galaga, etc).

Tapper was the exception, but my father enjoyed Budweiser and saw nothing wrong with a beer game where the main idea was to serve Bud to cartoon customers.  Apparently Midway was aware of the problem this title posed: family-friendly arcades could have a problem placing one of these machines in there establishment next to rows of Donkey Kong, Skee Ball or Pac-Man machines.  Enter Root Beer Tapper!

Root Beer Tapper (Tapper for short here) takes the alcohol away and throws in something most people like: root beer.  The old arcade scheme had a 4-direction joystick (the left mushroom or the D-pad) to control your bartender between the four bars, and to run down the bars to collect empty mugs and to grab tips.  Collecting tips would make three lovely ladies dance on the very top bar.  This would distract some guests while others would be indifferent and not pay any attention.  The other controller was a tap handle to serve the drinks, on the 360 controller, thankfully, you can use the right mushroom to emulate this control scheme (or you could use the A button- boring). Down on the tap to pour, up on the tap to serve, or fling, the giant mugs to the eager, goofy-looking cartoon bar patrons.  Simple enough controls.

The game has 4 stages: west-themed Saloon, Sports Bar, Punk Bar, and Alien Bar, each stage getting more difficult than the previous (of course!).  The Saloon is easy enough, unless you are gunning for Achievement #9- Saloon Master, 15 pts:  ďObtain a score of 7,000 in level 1 without losing a lifeď. You can get it, but man itíll tick you off to no end.  The Sports Bar adds more guests, a bunch of random athletes with color-swapping to mix up the look. Watch the baseball player when you grab the tip off the bar, and he turns to watch the cheerleaders.  Freud would approve.  The Punk Bar kicks the difficulty up, taking two bars entering from the left, and two from the right. The previous stages had all of the bars entering from one side.  The guests also are getting much faster, much more demanding, much more thirsty, and just more punks altogether, up to four Punks on each bar.  The Alien Bar is extremely difficult, and honestly,  I havenít been able to reach this one on the XBLA version.  Iíve seen it in arcades only.

Between each stage, there is a shell game-type guessing game.  You choose which can of root beer isnít shaken up. If you do, you smile and you get the ďThis Oneís for You!Ē message.  If you choose the wrong can, you get a face full of root beer suds.

Graphically, Tapper doesnít look too bad. Having played this game in arcades when it was a new release, I think my opinion could be a bit biased.  The cartoon look translates well on the XBLA.  Sound wise, the sounds are inoffensive, but overall they donít stick in your head. Literally, bells and whistles, with some percussive sounds.  Tapper also has online modes.  You can play online with another player to either build to a total combined score, or to compete for the best score. Since online play was pretty much dead two weeks after its release, online play and achievements are a moot point by now.


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