Tap Robo seems like a good idea on paper. Tapper games are what they are, and what they are is nonsensically compelling. Watching those numbers go up and up with whichever distinctive aesthetic flourish (shout-out to Tap My Katamari) as one mindlessly bops their phone can be cathartic for the right person. Tap Titans was a particularly successful take on the concept, adding skills with cooldowns and other gimmicks that made the Tap Game feel more like a RPG of sorts. Tap Robo is, shamelessly, an attempted reskin, using giant robots and a host of goofy sci-fi characters in place of swords and sorcery, monsters and demons. It… also feels like a half-hearted effort or a student project rather than a professional-grade release.
Tap Robo looks good, until you notice the HUD, until you notice anything on the screen that isn’t the character action. The robots are distinct and animated well, and the little characters the player earns all have fun little animation loops. Everything else looks awful, like placeholder text slapped over the action meant to be replaced with something more stylized at a later time. Who knows if that’s the case, but it makes me think of what one would end up with while learning how to make a game for the first time. The game also hits the occasional technical hurdle, with the sound often breaking and crackling, or the familiar “watch this ad for a free boost” deal ending with a “collect” button that doesn’t respond. Yikes.
Weak presentation can be forgiven in many cases if the core play is fun, and Tap Robo fails where its peers succeed. There’s no sense of balance, no progression creep that so many other free to play games use to make, at least, the first few hours of play not feel like a grind. Just getting those first few robot kills and coins takes forever. Within a few minutes I was already at the point of staring at my phone waiting to have enough cash for the next upgrade. On top of that, even after sticking it out for a while, I ran out of new heroes to recruit. Less than an hour in and all I could do was wait for new skills or pay to get additional items.
A free to play game needs to earn its money. Tap Robo offers a familiar-looking setup and immediately expects players to plunk down cash with no explanation of what they get out of it and no chance to earn a little of what can be purchased. It’s a game blatantly borrowing the style of a much more active and friendly game, and totally missing the mark on what made the original appealing. It offers a portion of a game that does very little to grab for attention and asks for money anyway. Just, play Tap Titans instead, frankly.