Video Game / Tapper

Tapper is a 1983 arcade game released by Bally/Midway. The goal of the game is to serve beer to advancing hordes of thirsty patrons, and collect empty mugs and tips.

The Tapper game screen features 4 bars. Patrons arrive periodically at the end of the bar opposite the player and demand drinks. The player must draw and serve drinks to the patrons as they slowly advance towards the player. If any customers reach the player's end of the bar, they grab the player-as-bartender and toss him out the far end of the bar, costing the player a life. You also die if you break a glass mug, either by sending a full one down the bar with no patron to catch it or by failing to catch one of the empties being slid back to you.

Originally intended to be sold only to bars, many of the cabinets were designed to look like bars, with a brass rail footrest and drink holders. The controller was designed to look like the tap handles on a real keg. Digitized belches were recorded, but never used.

Four variants of the game were released (the first three together in 1983), with similar gameplay but different graphics and music. The first was with Budweiser branding, meant for bars in the US. Second, a variant with Suntory branding, meant for Japan. Third, a 'generic' variant, meant for use anywhere else. Finally, Root Beer Tapper was released in 1984, developed specifically for family-friendly arcades. This version became necessary when parents objected to some family arcades carrying Budweiser Tapper, on the grounds that this was a way to advertise alcohol to children.

The game played a role in Wreck-It Ralph, as the arcade characters' after-hours hangout. Maurice LaMarche played the bartender.

There's a version called Simpsons Tapper with The Simpsons characters hacked into the graphics.

Tapper has examples of:

  • Bar Slide: You deliver drinks to the customers this way, but if any customers reach the end of the bar without being served, they'll slide you right out the door.
  • Bowdlerise: The Root Beer Tapper variant.
  • Chubby Chef: The player character is a rotund bar tender.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: An example of the trope appears on the bonus levels.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Customers sometimes leave tips on the bar. Collect one and a group of dancers will perform for a few seconds, with some customers (but not all) stopping their advance to watch.
  • Endless Game: Just like many games of its day.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: For Root Beer Tapper.
  • Noob Cave: The first level can be reliably completed within two seconds by pressing fire, up, fire, up, fire, up, fire. The second one as well, by doubling up on the fire key in the sequence above. After that, things get noticeably harder.
  • Palette Swap: Several later levels are mirror images of earlier levels.
  • Product Placement:
    • The Budweiser logo can be clearly seen in some levels. The original, not-for-kids version had its marquee glass proudly displaying the Budweiser logo instead of the game's actual name. The bonus round also displayed the "This Bud's for You" slogan if you won.
    • Additionally, the version made for release in Japan replaced Budweiser with Suntory.
    • The ZX Spectrum home game didn't seem to have much branding... until you got a giant Pepsi logo for the bonus stage.
    • On the Atari 2600 version the bonus stage has a Mountain Dew logo.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack:
    • The music in the cowboy bar levels is a rendition of the classic folk song "Oh, Susanna!"
    • The alien bar seems to be using a Suspiciously Similar Song to the Star Wars Cantina theme.
  • Shell Game: The bonus round has six cans, and a villain shakes five of them while the bartender's not looking. He then gets to his end of the bar and pounds for service. This causes the cans to shuffle back and forth. As the bartender, you must choose the one unshaken can in order to score the bonus.
  • Time Management Game: May be the Ur-Example.

Alternative Title(s): Root Beer Tapper