Fire Emblem Heroes remains the one success story in Nintendo’s mobile game catalog thus far, but its latest update adds in a seemingly random mode that, if the company expanded it, could make for a second hit on its own.
Tap Battle is the name of Fire Emblem Heroes’ new in-game event, which is live for a two-week period. It pits a team of four fighters against several waves of enemies, who move closer to the heroes’ side of the screen and will attack them, should they cross over the boundary line. After completing five waves of increasing difficulty, players receive a reward, whether it be material to power up characters or Orbs to spend on new ones. Then, it’s onto the next set of battles.
This is an obvious departure from the game’s traditional turn-based combat, where you have to choose your team strategically to pick off diverse troops. But Fire Emblem Heroes already has plenty of that, and it only has one thing like Tap Battle. Tap Battle is simplistic, but that’s the charm: You fight those enemies by tapping them in time with the rhythm of the background music.
It’s a rhythm game for people who don’t really play rhythm games. The music selection consists of a single track; I mean, this mode requires all of one finger to play. But there’s something really endearing about how simple Tap Battle is. It’s fun to build up combos by knocking out each enemy without letting them touch you. Moving up the floors of Tap Battle’s dungeon tower brings more enemies and a faster pace, which feels just the right amount of stressful.
What makes Tap Battle fun in spite of how basic it is (the boss fights seem to ditch the rhythm aspect altogether, and tapping to hit enemies doesn’t really make for complex gameplay) is how it draws from a less common use of the rhythm genre. I love series like Rock Band, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva, Dance Dance Revolution and Ouendan for how they make the music I listen to both visual and interactive. But I also appreciate titles like Rhythm Heaven and HarmoKnight, which are more focused on reinventing action into something more visceral, innate and intuitive.
I’m not saying I’m a rhythmic person, but we’ve all bopped our heads to a beat. And a Nintendo-produced mobile game that combines the compelling simplicity of Fire Emblem Heroes’ new rhythm-action mode with another franchise (Rhythm Heaven would be a good start) would be a ton of fun, based on what I’ve played of Tap Battle so far.