Tap Skaters (Nintendo Switch) Review

Do you enjoy playing games which gradually become more challenging, but you only want to use a single finger? If so, Tap Skaters could be your next addictive Nintendo Switch title, a game which you can easily jump into whenever you have a few minutes to spare. This is yet another game which looks simple and won’t require much skill in order to complete, yet looks can be deceiving. If your reflexes aren’t what they used to be, you may struggle with this game.

Full disclosure, just like Into the Dead 2, Tap Skaters is actually a free game over on iOS and Android, but the mobile version contains in-app purchases which could easily end up costing more than the price to buy it outright on the Nintendo Switch. However, because it’s free, I’ve downloaded and played both versions in order to see which one I prefer the best, so let’s take a look…

Tap Skaters 1

See how far you can grind without hitting something!

Gameplay
Tap Skaters has one of the simplest concepts ever – you simply ‘tap’ on either A or the screen and watch as your ‘Skater’ drops down to the rail below. Initially, this isn’t hard as the rails slope in alternating directions, at a slightly angled position so you don’t go too fast, and there aren’t many obstacles. However, soon enough you’ll find yourself on rails with steeper inclines which make you move faster, the rail below may be going in the same direction (thus confusing you at first), and they’ll be a tonne of hazards out to knock you over. 

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The actual goal varies, as there are different missions you’ll have to complete whilst working your way through the many levels on offer. You’ll find yourself either having to go down a certain number of rails without crashing, collecting a number of items whilst also avoiding hazards, racing against a CPU skater whilst aiming to not get smacked by an annoying obstacle, or once again staying away from things that want to hurt you whilst you try and bump into a robber in order to catch him.

There’s not a lot of variety but the game does keep things fresh by increasing the difficulty with every single level. For example, you may only have to go down 30 rails in one level yet the next will require 40 as well as increasing the number of hazards (both moving and stationary) and adjusting the slopes so that you grind down them faster than before. Seriously, I’m only about twenty levels in on the Switch edition and I’m already finding it really difficult – I think my reflexes are just really bad these days!

Tap Skaters 2

Coins and Fame points are used to buy new items and progress

Progression
I wasn’t aware of this mechanic until about an hour ago, as it hasn’t stunted my progression at all so far. Whereas most mobile games require you to get a certain number of stars in order to proceed, Tap Skaters requires fame. how do you earn fame? Simple – you buy new skaters, complete levels, or buy furniture for your house. Buying the skaters and finishing levels gives you a set amount of fame points, buying furniture increases your ‘fame per minute’ tally. That’s right, just like clicker games on mobiles, this game has your fame increase per minute at an amount based on the furniture you own.

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As I said, this particular ‘requirement’ hasn’t stopped me from progressing so far because I’ve always had enough money to buy and upgrade my ‘house’ so that the amount I earn per minute is quite high. So, I’ve always hit the threshold of moving forward with no issues – but again, I’m not that far into the game yet. 

The main currency of the game is coins. These are simply earnt by completing levels and skating over them whilst you’re playing. I seem to have earnt more in the Switch version than the mobile as the mobile version has the option to buy them with real money, yet the Switch version seems much more generous and consumer-friendly about them. What do you spend the coins on? As I said above, buying and upgrading furniture to increase your minute-based fame is a possibility, as is buying a new skater from a wide selection. 

Tap Skaters 3

Why not race against a friend!

Outside of the career?
So, if you’re stuck on a level or fancy trying out something else, what can you do?

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If you fancy trying to get your name on the worldwide leaderboards, there’s an ‘Endless’ mode which you can take part in. As expected, this involves simply trying to get down as many rails as you can without crashing into anything along the way. The further you get, the more intense the action gets. Also, unlike Anthill, you can actually gain Fame and Coins whilst within this mode, both of which can be taken with you to buy or upgrade things in the career mode.

The second option is Versus. Again, this is self-explanatory. By undocking your joycons and giving one to mate, or using a pro controller, you can go head-to-head with them in a split-screen battle. Depending on how many missions you’ve completed in the career mode, you’ll have access to various missions similar to what we saw before, only this time they’re made for two people. The race events are simple, make it to the finish line before the other person, but the collection-based missions are harder as only one person can grab an item. 

Basically, even though it’s split-screen, each side shows the ghost of the other player. If one player grabs an item, it vanishes off the other person’s screen at the same time, making it not only a race to collect the number of items required, but it’s a race to get to them before the other person – remember, it becomes more intense the further down you get. 

Mobile or Switch?
This one’s an easy one – buy the Nintendo Switch version of Tap Skaters. The game on the Switch is £4.49 – that includes the Versus mode (which doesn’t appear to be on the mobile edition) and the much faster progression.

The mobile version, on the other hand, may technically be ‘free’, but it’s full of adverts and has a number of microtransactions. When you die, there’s an advert before you can continue, if you get stuck on a level, there’s a £2.99 unlock MT to unlock all levels, if you want all the room items then that’s another £6.99, you can even pay to disable the adverts before continuing for another £2.99. Now, I’m not saying the mobile version is a bad choice – it’s a free game which the developer is funding via the use of the adverts and in-app purchases. However, considering the Switch port never stops you playing or restricts you jumping right back in, that version is clearly the best way to play.

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There is one issue though. Mobile games have a tendency to bump up the difficulty with the intention of persuading you to want to purchase the time saver purchases or the additional coin boosts. As such, I don’t think the game has been rebalanced enough in the conversion process as it still gets very difficult quite fast, making me almost wish there was an option to skip a level or maybe ‘purchase’ an unlock with the in-game currency. As I’m the type of person who doesn’t give up easily, I’ll continue playing until I manage to pass the level I’m stuck on, but others may not be as forgiving and determined as myself.

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
Tap Skaters may not be the most advanced game in the world, but it’s fun in short bursts and very challenging. With a few different mission-types, an Endless mode, and even a two-player Versus option, there’s a decent amount of content for the low price. When put side-by-side with the free-to-play mobile edition, I’d say buy the Switch version if you want to play it without ad-breaks and a push for you to invest in microtransactions. Don’t be fooled by it’s cute and whimsical appearance, it’s very addictive and frustratingly tricky.

A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

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Tap Skaters

£4.49
7.5

Final Score

7.5/10

The Good:

  • - Very addictive
  • - Simple yet challenging
  • - All iAP and Microtransactions have been stripped out
  • - Versus mode to play against others
  • - Online leaderboard

The Bad:

  • - Could do with a bit more rebalancing now the iAPs have gone
  • - Gets pretty tricky quite fast
  • - If playing for a long time, it gets repetitive. Best played in short sessions
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