If Starbucks haven't got a mobile phone game in homage to this, then they just don't get it.

Source // Wikipedia

I am perhaps the wrong person to be reviewing Tapper, what with not drinking and all that. In my defence, I'm not really reviewing it and I didn't know it was about beer before playing. But it's not about beer really, despite the name, the theme and the Budweiser branding (which was removed when the game was installed in arcades with a lot of kids - wouldn't want to advertise alcohol to minors...).

No, it's not about beer at all, but is of course about customer relations and objective priorities...


I'm playing the MS-DOS version but the aim of the game is the same. Customers want beer, you supply beer. Customers don't want empty glasses, you collect empty glasses. They're a bit fussier than that generalization, but that's the gist of things.

It starts off simple enough, with only a handful of folks who want wet whistles, and if they drink enough they head back outside. If your pub is empty, pat yourself on the back for a job well done. If they don't have their fill though, or more and more people come looking for some liquid refreshment then you'll have your work cut out for you, as you juggle which bars to serve drinks to, how many drinks to serve, all the while having to deal with empty glasses coming back at you (which I eventually found out you can run to collect, rather than stand there waiting for them).

These customers only care about themselves and will only take what they want. That means they will gladly watch you fling a drink right past them, should they already have one, and if it goes out the door and smashes, you've lost a life.

Losing lives while trying to get the hang of Tapper is easy enough. Forget to grab an empty glass? Lost life. Left it too long to serve someone? Lost life. Bar chock-a-block with no end to the incoming swarm? You might as well lose a life and try again. It's hectic if you aren't careful, and then it just ramps up in difficulty anyway.

Fun Times

Difficulty aside, at Tappers core is a game so simple that each time you lose you just know you can do better and jump in for another game. You could say it's as addictive as alcohol.

The gameplay is mixed up with the inclusion of tips from some customers, and collecting them has various effects in the form of entertainment that distracts some customers from their need for drink - a blessing and a curse, for while they won't slide along the bar, they won't catch their drink either.

In between levels there is also a bonus minigame of 'find the unshaken beer', which furthers the sense of fun Tapper tries to convey. The bar tenders' animations upon finishing his serving are usually humorous, and depending on the version, serving non-alcohol drinks to aliens certainly keeps things fresh. Fresher than you might expect, I guess.

Final Word

It's clear to see where the gameplay from Tapper would go, because it can be used in all manner of situations. It's like a plate spinner at the circus; a simple task but one that requires lots of management. There's barely a moment of rest.

That said, it only holds attention for so long, and while it's certainly a quick game to fire up and see how well you do, I don't see myself sitting down and trying to make any significant strides through the difficulty levels.

Would it have felt better had I been playing on an original, bar themed arcade cabinet, complete with beer tap shaped controls? Yeah, possibly. Probably. Whatever you play it or it's many influences on (it's on the Internet Archive, you know you want to...), you're going to have a good time until you hit a wall.

Much like a night out drinking, really.

Fun Facts

One early version of the game featured audio of the developers burping, synced up to animations of people finishing their drinks. After a while the sound effect got annoying, and it was removed before release.

Tapper, developed by Marvin Glass and Associates, first released in 1983.
Version played: MS-DOS, 1983, via emulation.