Ever since a slew of new APIs found their way into the latest version of Apple's iOS, the one that we've been waiting for somebody to really take advantage of is the ability for applications to finally be able to tap into the music library of the device itself. We even dreamed of the classic Audiosurf making its way to iPhone in a post from early last month. With the success of rhythm games in the past few years, and especially the Tap Tap Revenge series on iPhone, gamers have been clamoring for a similar game that they can play using their own music. Enter Tapic [99ยข], the first game (that I know of) that creates a tapping chart directly from a song in your music library for you to play with. Tapic attains various levels of success in what it sets out to do, but it's far from perfect. Still, it's a novel use of the new API and is pretty fun in its own right.
The interface used in Tapic is simple to use. Choosing Play from the main menu brings up all the songs from your music library. After selecting a song Tapic will create a note chart for it, which takes about 10-20 seconds, and next you'll choose which difficulty to play it on. The harder the difficulty, the faster the notes come barreling towards you down the lanes. Choosing More Songs from the menu allows you to select a bunch of songs at once and have them prepared in advance for playing. Depending on how many songs you choose this can take a quite a few minutes, but allows you to play from songs in your playlist in succession without waiting for each one to create a chart in between.
The game can be played in portrait or landscape mode, although landscape must be purchased and unlocked using collected in-game coins (or by buying them with real money as IAP). Portrait uses three lanes of notes to tap along with, and landscape uses five. The game is at its best in landscape mode, and it's annoying that this must be unlocked rather than available from the start. Portrait is still ok, and it's a good way to get acclimated with playing Tapic, but landscape is where I spend most of the time playing. Different themes can also be bought using the game currency for both portrait and landscape mode, adding some graphical variety to the backgrounds.
The presentation and functionality of tapping the notes all work extremely well in Tapic, but it's the actual chart generation that fails to really impress. It doesn't ever feel like the notes jive with the song in a meaningful way as they rarely sync up properly, and when they do it mostly just feels like a coincidence. Some songs fared better than others while testing out the game, but overall you really feel like you're just playing an unrelated tapping game while listening to your favorite tunes. In my experience, and the general consensus of gamers in our forums, is that hip-hop and techno music gives the best results, while rock and metal generally don't.
The funny thing about the chart generator is that even though it's somewhat lacking, Tapic is still can be fun. I found myself continually wanting to keep playing, even though it didn't really feel like my performance had any impact on the song that was being used. I just can't help but feel like if the developer can improve this aspect of the game, which they have stated they are working on, then Tapic could really be something special. My other biggest point of contention is having to play for an extensive period of time (or spend real life money) before being able to unlock the landscape mode. It just feels like a cheap aspect to an otherwise excellently presented game.
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