I’m not going to hide the fact that I’m virtually inept at arcade games. In fact, I might have only been to a single, albeit defunct arcade in my life. That said, it’s hard not to be familiar with the usual classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, or Space Invaders. Root Beer Tapper, however, is one of the games that I never heard of until it hit Xbox Live Arcade, but apparently it’s one of the big ones. I suppose root beer was big in the 1980s. At any rate, upon first playing the game, it’s easy to see why the game is a classic, with a simple design but complex difficulty. Like many classic arcade titles, Root Beer Tapper will only last a short while, but it is also a faithful and challenging addition to the Arcade line.
The concept of Root Beer Tapper is simple. As some sort of Mario clone masquerading as a bartender, you are tasked with providing customers with their tonic of choice: root beer. That’s right, all the tough cowboys and aliens love to down that non-alcoholic alternative to actual beer. Your customers will continuously move down four different bars demanding their frothy substance, which you will need to send down the bar stand. Successfully sending a drink to a person will send them flying back, hopefully through the door where they won’t bother you for a while. Sending a drink flying off the table or letting a customer make their way to you will end in a lost life. The ultimate goal: clear the bar to pass on to the next stage.
The game itself proves to be quite difficult. You will begin in a saloon serving cowboys, which is simple enough. The next level, the sport stadium, considerably ramps up the difficulty, while the punk bar is even harder. I can only imagine how difficult the last bar, the alien bar, is, since I can’t make it there for the life of me. Truth-be-told, Root Beer Tapper‘s difficulty will probably frustrate some people, as the only way to progress is to eliminate all patrons from the bar, meaning you could potentially go forever if not for the fact that the game’s speed will eventually do you in. Still, arcade-lovers will probably adore the difficulty.
Being a classic arcade port, Tapper is light on the game modes and will last a fairly short while unless you’re devoted to getting to the very last bar. There are some co-op and online multiplayer versus modes thrown in to give the game a little more substance, and the achievements also help to give the game a little more life. Unlike many Arcade classic titles, Tapper doesn’t have the option for updated graphics, but really, the game looked good enough then, and even now, it doesn’t really need to look better, so no problem there. There’s also a small but kind of neat touch that the developers took by letting the right analog stick act as the A