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Video Game / Tapper

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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.

A mobile sequel, Tapper World Tour, was released in 2011 featuring art and animation by Don Bluth.

The game played a role in Wreck-It Ralph and its sequel, as the arcade characters' after-hours hangout. Maurice LaMarche voiced 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.
    • The Apple II port had them miss the door just a tad; you got slid to the END of the bar, where the sprite changes to the same "Oh no!" pose the Tapper had complete with sound effect of a mug breaking (which happened when he either missed an empty mug or slid one drink too many down the bar with nobody to catch it).
  • Bowdlerise: The Root Beer Tapper variant, a graphical overhaul of the original game to focus on root beer instead. But this was due to Tapper having been originally been in bars with alcohol, and others argued this was advertising alcohol to kids. To combat this, Root Beer Tapper was needed for arcades, while the Tapper home ports used Mountain Dew and Pepsi instead of Budweiser logos to hint the Tapper served sodas, not beer.
  • Chubby Chef: The player character is either a rotund bartender in most versions, or a rotund diner chef (or more accurately, "soda jerk," the server of a soda/root beer at a soda fountain) in Root Beer Tapper, but they're chubby all the same.
  • 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.
  • Every 10000 Points: One extra life at 20,000 points, and every 60,000 points thereafter.
  • Frothy Mugs of Water: For Root Beer Tapper. Though root beer used to be also called "Sarsaparilla," a soft drink popular in the 19th century (which was around the time of the Wild West and the saloons of the period). So It Makes Sense in Context.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink after dealing with such rowdy, demanding customers—hence the Cut Scenes at each round's end.
  • The Klutz: The bartender fumbles a pitcher in the cutscenes. Justified because he just drank a pitcher's worth of beer.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Neither beer nor root beer have any more effect on the aliens than on the humans.
  • 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. The customers sometimes have different skin/costume colors as well in a level (the sports bar has this happen).
  • Product Placement:
    • The Budweiser name and logo are prominently featured on the marquee glass and all over every screen, and the bonus screen displays the "This Bud's for You" slogan if you win. The machines came with real Budweiser beer tap handles at first; later, these were changed to smaller, generic handles with the company's logo on them. The original version intended for use in bars even displayed the logo instead of the game's actual name.
    • 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. The Apple II and PC versions also have this.
    • Notably subverted with the Root Beer Tapper edition of the game, which just displays a generic "Root Beer" logo.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The music in the cowboy bar levels is a rendition of the classic folk song "Oh, Susanna!" The sports bar levels uses a rendition the folk song "Buffalo Gals."
  • 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 (3000 points that helps towards extra lives).
  • Time Management Game: May be the Ur-Example.
  • You Have Failed Me: Let one customer go without a drink and you get the bum's rush.

Alternative Title(s): Root Beer Tapper


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