- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 28, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles for everyone in the family.

Let’s Tap (From Sega for Wii, $29.99) — Just as the title suggests, players find a hard surface, place their Wiimote upside down on it and knock near it to play five games.

Up to four players can take part in this $30 experiment. Using the controller’s Accelerometer, action involves delivering varying degrees of vibrations to move characters and objects on screen.

The 16-level Tap Running game best explains the concept as players use their fingers in a Morse-code-style motion to control an athlete. The little fellow runs faster as tapping speed increases and jumps with a stronger strike to the surface.

Getting through ever-more-difficult obstacle courses is a riot as the poor runner leaps over hurdles, walks tightropes, and can get crushed, electrocuted and sucked through warp holes.

In the puzzle department, a simplistic Jenga-style game requires players to pull block plates from a tower. Pick a plate and tap vigorously to quickly yank it out and keep the structure from falling over.

For a stress reliever, how about a wild visualizer that allows tappers to bring fireworks to life, paint, ripple ponds and cause bubbles in oceans to interact with marine life.

Under fighters, a side-scroller gives players control over a space soldier that drifts around a battlefield and blasts others, or soloists can move through dangerous courses.

A music challenge rounds out the innovation and basically requires following the rhythm icons of four songs much like a drummer using a finger as a stick.

My tips are to use consistent taps and put a piece of thick cardboard on your lap to get a solid response.

This family-friendly party game does not deliver the laughs or longevity of a Rayman Ravin Rabbids, but Let’s Tap is a slick magic trick and is entertaining in small doses. It should have been a Wiiware download (to keep its price down) rather than a packaged disc.

The Legendary Starfy (from Nintendo for the DS, $29.99) — American audiences get a full dose of hand-held entertainment thanks to a golden-hearted starfish helping a furry fellow in a spacesuit.

Japanese gamers already know the legend of the prince of the Pufftop Kingdom. A player controls this mumbling, squeaking invertebrate through side-scrolling action traversing cartoony, three-dimensional land and marine environments.

With help from a cast of characters much calmer than SpongeBob’s posse, including a clam named Moe, Starfy’s kid sister Starly, mapmaker Globerto and a game-saving Mermaid, Starfy spends time exploring, collecting and transforming to stop the bad guys.

What distinguishes this package from a host of other platformers is pure Mario charm and the diverse amount of content tossed in for good measure. Listen to songs from the game, collect pearls to buy toy models of the characters, watch the story cartoons, have the hero try on a pair of sunglasses, read Moe’s Journal or enjoy an episode of his talk show and fight through a gantlet of bosses in a special mode. Even the handful of wireless multiplayer games will not disappoint.

The Pokemon style of colorful graphics permeates the art design, and, along with the extended action, will be irresistible for younger players. Yup, Nintendo has added another instant classic to its family-friendly library.

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