Tappymon Review -- A Tale of Wrist Pain and Utter Boredom
Smartphones are a standard in our lives nowadays, but the gaming market has thus far struggled to comprehend and make use of the system well enough to produce consistently great titles. Instead, opportunistic developers instead utilise the platform as a means of luring in the casual everyday user with the promise of a free to play game that’s built up solely to draw them in, then force microtransactions to continue at a respectable rate.
You start to see the patterns in these games pretty quickly, and it’s easy to identify them within the first couple of minutes. They might have decent art styles and bright colours, but then they’ll draw you in with the same five minute tutorial experience that teaches you the same old concepts.
Slot machine systems with a free try every day, but more costs extra? Stamina gating which limits your play time unless you pay for more early? Means of acquiring items over time, but you can pay for a better chance at getting the good ones you want? It’ll have all of those and more.
Even the art starts to look predictable after a while.
You’ll get through all these systems and be left with a game that is fairly shallow and basic, with minimal interaction that instead requires you to get lucky and get the good items from the aforementioned chance systems. Occasionally there’ll be a variant of these games that is actually decent and offers some interesting gameplay moments, but it’s usually still scant in comparison to most titles on other platforms.
The mobile market and app stores are absolutely rife with these titles, and even big name companies slap their popular brands on variants of these to draw people in. From Final Fantasy to Fallout, Marvel to DC, you name it, it’s probably here.
So where am I going with all of this? Well, I’m painting you the picture of the kind of game that Tappymon is trying to be. Unfortunately, it takes every element of these games, boils it down to a distilled package, and then completely loses all interesting gameplay as a result.
Upon starting the game, I was immediately gifted the standard tutorial package. Here are your pudding-like Tappymon creatures! Here is your Gachapon machine to get items from! Here are your currencies, make sure to buy more! Here is your stamina gating! I knew what I was getting into from the very outset, but I’d at least been conditioned to expect certain basics.
Then, I was thrust into the first battle. This consisted of me tapping as fast as possible, whittling away the enemy’s life while it did the same to me. Ultimately, I tap faster than the timer it has before it overwhelms my poor defenceless pudding creatures. As I tap, there’s a bar that fills which lets me utilise a slightly more damaging attack by tapping that once instead.
And that’s literally all there is to it. This is the entirety of the gameplay involved in Tappymon.
Now, there’s a little more to it. See, these creatures have energy bars, and you get food from battles to feed them. Feed them and the bar fills, gradually decreasing over time. As long as there’s energy left, the ‘mons will continue to gain experience passively.
Gaining experience gives them levels, which makes them stronger. At set level intervals, you can give them set elemental stones and items to evolve them into slightly different coloured 'mons -- there’s really little difference in appearance at first, and they’ll now deal extra damage to a specific other colour of creature while taking more from another colour. You can also equip them with a single piece of equipment to further buff their numbers, all of which comes from the Gachapon machine.
So, here’s the kicker; this passive experience generation is the only way to gain experience for your creatures. Winning a battle will provide your account with a little bit of experience, and leveling up will restore your stamina and give you a meager amount of currency, but that’s it.
As such, this effectively makes battles in Tappymon almost completely pointless.
Sure, you get that tiny bit of currency and food from winning a battle, but beyond that there is no gain. Your Tappymon grow stronger completely passively and are supplemented by random items gained arbitrarily.
Battles themselves have practically no variation, either. The map consists of a list of numbered icons with no variety, and selecting one throws you into a battle of your three Tappymon against theirs. How strong the enemy is is as arbitrary as how strong you are, and ultimately it’s just a matter of straining your wrist and tapping your screen until it breaks, whereupon you might win... unless you haven't waited long enough or gotten lucky yet, in which case you just lose.
You can swap to a more effective element if you want, but the difference is minor and the strategy ends there. Plus, if they haven’t gotten a good piece of equipment from a lucky draw, they’re probably weaker than your basic ‘mon anyway.
I played through about 25 of these maps, repeatedly hitting walls that I simply waited a few hours for in order for the experience gain to allow me to overcome them. And that’s the entirety of the gameplay. There’s also a Boss Mode, which apparently lets you invite friends to challenge huge creatures together, but there’s no means of making friends in-game aside from linking your Facebook and drawing them from there.
Quite frankly? I know my friends all have better ways and games to spend their time on, as do I.
Tappymon is the most dull and pointless attempt at a cash grab I’ve ever seen. I can’t even really call it particularly cute, because while the pudding creatures are kind of endearing, they are all so similar in appearance at first that it just amounts to palette swaps and laziness.
Later designs give them more life, but the details are still minor and you have to grind -- or rather, wait -- for so tediously long to see them that it's just not worth it. Even the name is clearly just evoking Pokemon, but unlike this game, Pokemon actually has enticing gameplay and interesting systems.
In a world full of generic mobile games created only to swipe your hard-earned money, Tappymon fails even to match the gameplay of those titles.