Tap into a new way to play on the Wii

For many families, the Nintendo Wii has become their go-to party platform. But if the lack of innovation in the minigame compilations is zapping your enthusiasm to play party games on the Wii, take note. Let's Tap from Sega is refreshingly different and a blast to play.

Let's Tap throws out conventional Wii play patterns. There is no holding of the Wii remote to simulate motions on the screen. No shaking or tilting of the controller.

For this game, you grab some friends and a small cardboard box for each — yes, cardboard boxes. The game is played by placing the Wii remote face down onto the surface of a box and then tapping the box with your fingers. The reverberations created by your fingers drumming on the surface register with the Wii remote. It is so sensitive that it can tell the difference between when you are hitting the surface lightly, with a little force or with a whack. And these three degrees of tapping create the foundation for a fun party game experience.

Let's Tap is made up of five different types of multilevel games. Each type has its appeal and can be played with up to four friends, but the standout game is "Tap Runner."

In "Tap Runner," you are represented by a colored-gel guy. Each of the 16 levels is a side-scrolling race. You get your gel guy to run by tapping lightly. The faster you tap, the faster your gel guy runs. Each level has different traps and interactive devices that can help or hurt you as you try to reach the goal line. The fun comes from figuring out what tap will help you navigate the various devices. There are tightropes (which can only be crossed using light taps) and hurdles (which need carefully timed firm taps). And, if your timing is off, your gel guy stumbles and squishes on the track. There are escalators, slippery slopes, jump boards, speed rings, ice walls, swings, warp holes and more. Each level is different and fascinating to explore. Plus the gel guys, who have no facial characteristics, manage to be expressive and hilarious by simply moving their bodies.

Our family testers also enjoyed the "Rhythm Tap" game. Similar to the popular "Guitar Hero" and Rock Band music games, this game is about matching rhythm markers as they pass over a bar. The markers scroll across the screen from the right to the left. Light taps are represented by a small blue dot, medium taps by a medium green circle and firm by large orange circle. There are also drum rolls. Surprisingly, creating music with friends by tapping on a box is a funky bonding experience.

The other types of games in Let's Tap include a Jenga -type game of removing blocks from a tower, an Asteroids -type shooter-in-space game where you keep your avatar afloat by tapping, and a game where your taps create visualizations like fireworks or art on the screen. While interesting to explore, these games weren't as captivating as "Tap Runner" and "Rhythm Tap."

While our testers would have relished tapping through more levels, and they quickly tired of trying to navigate the game's levels using taps (and reverted to the traditional point-the-Wii-remote-and-push-buttons method), they loved exploring this game.

Let's Tap is one of those rare games that brings nongamers to the Wii, while satisfying Wii aficionados. Unlike Rock Band and Guitar Hero, where nongamers feel intimidated by the fancy controllers and all the chaos on the screen, Let's Tap is inviting. It's easy to tap your fingers on a box.

It is one of those games where, if you are in a room with a group that is playing it, you'll want a turn. Who doesn't want to blow up a balloon by tapping and then have the balloon's bursting send your gel guy flying down the track? Plus, regardless of whether you are playing or waiting for your turn, the antics of the gel guys will have the whole room laughing. Let's Tap is a surefire crowd pleaser.

Gudmundsen is the editor of Computing With Kids magazine. Contact her at gnstech@gannett.com.