Tap Tap Revenge 3 might be the new music franchise on the block, but it's pushing the genre forward step by step with innovation.
Hangin' tough against the might of rival Rock Band and its cooperative multiplayer, Tap Tap Revenge 3 delivers more options and greater depth, but a complicated interface and funky note patterns keep it from exacting full vengeance on its competitors.
Inspired by the rhythmic gameplay of its predecessors, the game has you tapping notes that stream down the screen along three tracks to the beat of the music. The simplicity of featuring just three tracks is countered by challenging note choreography that frequently deploys double-tap patterns, shorter note values, and complex off-beat rhythms.
As a result, the choreography feels off at times. Some songs have you holding down an extended note on the a track with one finger, then awkwardly tapping out beats on the tracks to the left and right. At the highest levels of difficulty, the increased frequency of off-beat patterns coupled with these holds is extremely challenging, if not occasionally unpleasant.
And when you're not familiar with the music, as is often the case in Tap Tap Revenge 3, that sensation becomes amplified. The basic game carries only three tracks, though dozens of free tunes and premium paid songs can be downloaded from the online Tap Tap Store. There are some decent tunes and recognisable names, but most of the songs are mediocre and a few are downright awful.
You get what you pay for - if you want Kaiser Chiefs and Crystal Method, expect to pay for them. Tracks come in affordable 59p/99p pairs, so it's not entirely painful to purchase a bunch of songs to build up your library.
That's precisely the concept: instead of charging a premium upfront for a predetermined soundtrack, Tap Tap Revenge 3 comes in with a low starting price and frees you up to buy the tracks of your choosing with the money saved.
Customisation extends beyond songs to an online avatar. Coins earned from completed games can be spent on new clothes, shoes, and accessories. You're even able to level up your character via experience points earned from finishing songs.
Building out a virtual character brings depth to the experience, and feeds into the competitive element fully realised by online play.
Full network multiplayer lets you square off against other players, aiming for the highest score while launching attacks with special items. It's totally fun. There's also a competitive offline two-player mode available that can be played on one handset.
A maze of menus makes sifting through all of these options and modes daunting. This is not exactly a user-friendly game. Menus clog the screen, preventing you from just jumping right into play. Too many visual elements confuse navigation. Even during gameplay, individual artist skins and the addition of an accuracy gauge unnecessarily complicate.
In layering so many great features - competitive online play, customisable avatar, downloadable songs packs - Tap Tap Revenge 3 sacrifices accessibility. Too much time is spent fiddling with menus and not enough on enjoying music and competing online.