by Mark Nobes, chief editor

Tapper is a  much-loved video game that was available on a wide range of 8-bit platforms during 1983 and 1984. Our video playlist includes a "let's compare" videos, along with separate clips of conversions for the C64, Atari 8-bit, Atari 2600, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, ColecoVision, BBC Micro, ZX Spectrum and DOS versions. There is also a lovely clip that features an original arcade machine.

In all versions of the game, you played the role of a bartender and you had to serve drinks to your customers in four separate bars as they slowly advanced towards you. Should any customer reach the end of the bar, then the player is tossed out of the bar. The player also loses a life if he/she fails to catch an empty beer glass before it falls of the end of the bar and it crashes to the ground.

There are four different themed bars in the arcade game. A western style saloon where the player serves cowboys, a sports bar with athletes, a punk bar with punk rockers, and an outer-space themed bar filled with aliens.
This was another classic 80s video game with a simple concept - serve beer, collect the empties and tips - proving that simple ideas work the best.
Tapper video game cartridge for Atari 2600
Tapper Atari 2600 manual
Here you can see an old Atari 2600 cartridge and manual. This version, along with versions for the other Atari consoles and the 8-bit computers was made available in 1984.
Tapper (1983) arcade game screenshot (Bally Midway)
Screen grab of the coin-op arcade version


The first video clip at the top of the page features the C64 version of Tapper, which was originally released into the arcades in 1983 by Bally Midway. This is a colourful and challenging version of the game and also plays smoothly and quickly. It received very positive feedback from the critics of the day.

Several variants of the game were released, including one called Root Beer Tapper.
Tapper C64 Screenshots
Tapper cassette inlay card Commodore 64


Well, the XL/XE version one I played back in the mid 80s on my 800XL, when I was about 15 years old. Comparing it to the C64 version, it seems to play a lot faster, although that may be due to the video clip featuring harder levels on the C64, of course.

I'm not one for getting into the old Commodore versus Atari argument (an argument that continued with the 16-bit machines), and it's a simple fact that there were good and bad video game conversions on both formats. In the case of Tapper, both versions seem pretty good to me and are far better than the Amstrad CPC version below.

Tapper computer game (Atari XL/XE screenshot)


This is certainly a very colourful version of the game, but it doesn't appear to play very smoothly or quickly, and judging by the comments on Youtube, this wasn't the best of conversions. Apparantly, the problem is that the game changes speed depending on how many sprites are on screen - the machine simply doesn't cope very well. That very basic General Instrument AY-3-8912 sound chip music is very annoying, too!

Tapper Game on the Amstrad CPC464
Amstrad Screenshot

Tapper - ZX Spectrum version
ZX Spectrum Version

Tapper on the BBC Micro
BBC Micro Version

Tapper on the Colecovision video game console
Screen grab from the ColecoVision version


A Compendium of ZX Spectrum Games