Root Beer Tapper

Root Beer Tapper

Arcade / Bally Midway 1983

Root Beer Tapper is an arcade game developed by Bally Midway in 1983. The game features a bartender tasked with serving root beer to a stream of thirsty patrons. The objective is to keep the customers satisfied by quickly serving drinks and collecting empty mugs before they slide off the bar. The gameplay is fast-paced and requires quick reflexes as players advance through increasingly challenging levels set in various barroom environments.

Originally, the game was designed as “Tapper,” sponsored by Budweiser, where players served beer instead of root beer. Due to concerns about promoting alcohol consumption in a game accessible to minors, Bally Midway created a family-friendly version, replacing beer with root beer and rebranding it as Root Beer Tapper. This version retained the same core mechanics but featured a more colorful, cartoonish aesthetic suitable for younger audiences.

Root Beer Tapper was well-received upon release, praised for its engaging gameplay, charming graphics, and catchy sound effects. It stood out in arcades for its unique cabinet design, which included a brass rail and a working tap handle used to pour drinks in the game. Critics and players appreciated the balance of challenge and fun, and it became a beloved title during the golden age of arcade games.

Root Beer Tapper has been ported to various home consoles and computers over the years, including the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and more recently, modern platforms through digital collections and emulation. A sequel, “Tapper 2,” was planned but never released. Related games include “Timber,” another arcade game by Bally Midway where players chop down trees instead of serving drinks, sharing similar gameplay mechanics and visual style.

Original Root Beer Tapper arcade machines are considered collectibles, especially in good working condition. Bally Midway produced thousands of units, but finding one today can be challenging due to the game’s age and the wear and tear on machines over decades. The estimated value of a Root Beer Tapper machine ranges from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on condition, completeness, and functionality. Machines with original parts and artwork intact are particularly prized by collectors.

The arcade cabinet for Root Beer Tapper features distinct hardware components essential for its operation. These include:

CPU: Zilog Z80
Sound: AY-3-8910
Graphics: Custom Bally Midway hardware
Control Interface: Tap handle and joystick
Monitor: 19″ CRT display
Power Supply: Standard arcade power supply
PCB (Printed Circuit Board): Main game logic board and sound board
Marquee: Illuminated game title sign
Control Panel: Tap handle, joystick, and buttons for gameplay
Side Art: Decorative artwork on the sides of the cabinet
Coin Mechanism: Standard arcade coin door and acceptor
For repairs, maintaining the originality of these parts is crucial to preserve the machine’s value. Key repair parts include replacement joystick assemblies, new tap handles, compatible power supplies, and CRT monitors or modern LCD replacements designed to fit the original cabinet dimensions.

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