• Graeme Mason

The Antstream Arcade Archive: Root Beer Tapper


In our latest Antstream Arcade Archive feature, we take a look at another specific game from the Antstream Arcade retro gaming vault, giving you the lowdown on its plot, gameplay, tips and more. This month we proudly present Root Beer Tapper, the arcade game that puts you in charge of a busy bar with a horde of thirsty customers baying for a root beer. Get ready to serve!


Serving root beer makes a nice change from shooting aliens.

Indeed, and this helped Root Beer Tapper stand out in the arcades during the Eighties. Developed by Marvin Glass and Associates, a company known more for its toy output than videogames, this Bally Midway arcade game from 1983 places the player inside several increasingly-bizarre drinking establishments. Customers gather across the four bars and at the end of each sits a sturdy barrel of beer. Grab a glass, fill it up and slide it down the smooth wooden bar so that the waiting punter can enjoy a nice cold one.


Sounds ea..whoa, hang on, they’re chucking the empties back at me!

Oh yes, it’s not just about the full glasses – returning empty ones must also be collected before they slip off the end of the bar and shatter into a million pieces, resulting in a life lost. Soon, multiple customers will appear across all four bars, creating a frenetic and relentless job for the poor downtrodden barperson. Fortunately, the occasional customer will leave a tip, but do you have time to run down the bar and collect it?



Glad I got some experience working behind a bar at Uni. There are some weird characters in this pub though…

Root Beer Tapper starts out relatively normal with the western-style saloon, complete with cowboys and cowgirls, before moving into the hospitality area of a sports event and a plethora of gasping fans. Things take a turn for the peculiar at the punk bar and its shady characters demanding service, before really getting out of this world as the barperson is thrust into outer space, the luminous shining bars playing host to all manner of weird and goggle-eyed aliens. You’ve gotta be good to get this far.

Anything else I should know about?

At the end of each level there’s a bonus round. A masked cad appears and shakes all but one of the cans laid out across the screen. Watch for the undisturbed can and open it for a nice bonus. Meanwhile, in the main game, a life is lost if you fail to catch an empty glass, slide a full mug down the bar without a recipient or – worst of all – fail to serve a customer, resulting in them grabbing you and hurling you down the bar


This is one tough gig – any tips?

This bartender is quick on their feet – which is just as well considering the number of customers they’ll be serving in Root Beer Tapper. The biggest tip we can offer is to use the screen warp when things get hectic – instead of three taps to get from one end of the pub to the other, simply press up or down at the end of the screen and you’ll magically appear at the opposite end.

I’m ready to pour some drinks! How’s the high score table on Antstream Arcade looking?

Head bartender is Laconic Shock with an impressive 162,475 points and a legion of happy customers. Behind them sits DrCurlytek and CharlieFar with 101,775 and 96,150 points respectively. Looking to break into the top ten on Antstream Arcade? You’ll need to best Chronikis’ total of 71,825. Get slinging those drinks!

What about challenges?

There’s one solitary Root Beer Tapper challenge on Antstream Arcade and it’s a toughie. Named after one of the most famous bars in TV history, Cheers, in The Challenge Where Everybody Knows Your Name you must keep the locals happy while scoring as many points as possible using just one life.

And if you’re after the ultimate challenge, you could always try to beat William Rosa’s world record score of 14,826,200 points. That’s a lot of drinks served!

As an Eighties arcade game, I imagine Root Beer Tapper got some home conversions?

It sure did, mainly courtesy of publisher US Gold. While lacking in comparison graphically, the ZX Spectrum version is one of the best and even a touch easier than its arcade forebear. The game also appeared on the Atari 2600, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and ColecoVision, among others, and was originally sponsored by Anheuser-Busch and featured the Budweiser logo before a more junior-friendly version was created for arcades.

Thank you for reading - watch out for another blast from the Antstream Arcade Archive soon!





Root Beer Tapper is available to play right now on Antstream Arcade.


Click here to get serving!*




*Windows, Mac, Android, and Nvidia Shield only.

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