Tap Skaters – Version Played: Switch – Price: £4.49
It’s quite common for me to post clips on Twitter as I play through a new game. Often, seeing as I’ll be playing for the first time (and also because it’s a pain to write a substantial comment via Switch), these clips will be accompanied by minimal text on the tweet itself, but I generally give an idea of my first impressions and what’s immediately struck me about the game I’m playing. I tend to get a few responses, often people asking what the game is and what it’s like.
Tap Skaters prompted one of those ‘what is this’ responses. It then prompted – from the same person who asked that question – a ‘I’m not playing this, it’s a mobile game’ response. Which I wasn’t sure how to react to. I mean, it’s a fact that yes, Tap Skaters does have an origin as a mobile game. Does that mean it’s automatically bad? Should it be dismissed or ignored because it’s a port of a mobile game?
I don’t believe in that. There are plenty of games for mobile that deserve a bigger audience; despite the many, many millions of people who own a mobile capable of running Android or iOS games, there’s an absolute flood of games constantly being released (and already available), which makes it next to impossible to find those games that don’t quite break through, for whatever reason. Though the Switch has a large volume of content being constantly released – and causing its own problems with discoverability – the problem is nowhere near as large. If the game is perfectly playable and has a lot going for it, why not give it a chance to shine on another platform?
And the truth is that Tap Skaters, despite the one-button – or one-tap of the finger – gameplay, is well worth trying. It’s a single, simplistic mechanic, yes – but Tap Skaters does well to bring a lot of variety to the very minimalist premise.
There are 50 stages, with a variety of different tasks given in order to complete them – whether that’s just reaching a certain number of jumps, collecting a specified number of objects, racing a ‘Boss’ character to the bottom or even catching and draining the energy from a robber, for example – and you need to avoid objects and other skaters as you tap to drop from the line you’re on. Your left to right movement is automatic and the direction you go in is determined by the angle of the slope you drop onto. It’s very straightforward, but surprisingly challenging in practice.
There’s other skaters to unlock along the way (a total of 18), many of which have skating-related names and/or are based on famous, recognisable people. You can upgrade the furnishings and decoration in your menu’s room, too.
Upgrading your skater and room gives you bonus smiley faces, known – I think – as ‘fame’ which is supposed to be passive bonuses (in the form of coins as well as further fame) that increase even when you’re not playing. However, this aspect of the game on Switch doesn’t seem to work when you’re not playing – increases in fame seem to happen just fine in the mobile version, but I can’t seem to get this to work on Switch. It’s never actually explained in-game, from what I can tell – which also seems like a glaring oversight.
Accruing coins can seem like an overly long grind without this passive bonus working, as the mobile version grants you coins from ‘fans’ even when you’re not playing; not only that, but the mobile version of Tap Skaters does feature in-app purchases and ads that allow you to earn coins faster (as well as a paid-for option to unlock all room objects). Though the Switch version shares this deliberately drawn-out economy, there doesn’t seem to be any way to speed up the process. Typically, you may earn 5 coins in a stage, with further coins available from completing it. There’s no way of accelerating this that I’ve found – and with the most expensive character costing 100,000 coins, it doesn’t seem that you’ll be reaching that milestone without an awful lot of replaying levels.
Issues with the in-game economy – and the confusion of the ‘Fame’ bonuses – aside, Tap Skaters has a cute aesthetic and is pretty addictive to play. Shorn of the microtransactions and intrusive ads of the mobile version (which interrupt the flow of play and certainly don’t encourage you to persevere), it’s a much more addictive experience, which is fast, frantic and – yes, another f-word – fun. I’ve not even had a chance to test the Vs or Endless modes yet – which is a testament to how much enjoyment I’ve had with the main campaign mode.
Though it is essentially a mobile game (sans microtransactions and ads), when you consider that many people play their Switch on the go it’s a great addition to the library; simple and quick enough to play in very short bursts, but with enough variety and polish to play for longer sessions too. Simplistic then, yes – but with no pretensions of being anything other than a reasonably priced, pick up and play game with plenty of levels (50 in the main campaign) and a lot of challenge. I’m glad I gave it a chance.
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Many thanks to Forever Entertainment for providing me with a Tap Skaters code for review.