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Tapulous has proven that, despite a relatively weak holiday season, music games aren’t dead after all.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s Riddim Ribbon game, which features music from the Black Eyed Peas, soared to the No. 1 position among top grossing apps in the AppStore after its launch on Monday morning.

Tonight, on the AppStore, Riddim Ribbon edged out RockBand, the music game from Electronic Arts and MTV Networks.

The game has 874 ratings already, and 547 are five stars out of five stars. That’s a promising start for the game, which represents a huge effort by Tapulous. It’s the first major new game for the company, whose entire revenue stream has been based on the Tap Tap Revenge series of music games, which resemble Guitar Hero, but for the iPhone’s touch screen. Now Riddim Ribbon has to hold that position in order to generate a lot of revenue.


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Riddim Ribbon is a “music racing” game. Tapulous is charging $2.99 for Riddim Ribbon, compared to the $6.99 price for the rival game RockBand. Bart Decrem, chief executive of Tapulous, said that Tap Tap Revenge is on a third of all iPhones and iPod Touches and has been downloaded more than 25 million times. If Riddim Ribbon turns into a similar franchise for Tapulous, it could have a long run. That’s because Tapulous could churn out a number of variants using different songs from different musical groups.

Using a famous band is a proven strategy for Tapulous, which has made lots of custom versions of its game featuring hot singers such as Lady Gaga. The game comes with three songs from the Black Eyed Peas, including the smash hits Boom Boom Pow, Meet Me Halfway, and I Got a Feeling. Since there are three difficulty levels, you can play a bunch of different combinations of games with the five-minute songs. You can add three more levels for 99 cents each. Included for free is a remix of Meet Me Halfway that has never been released in the U.S.

The game originated from a close collaboration with Black Eye Peas singer and producer, and Decrem brainstormed on what they could do together. After 18 months, the result is Riddim Ribbon. Compared to something like Guitar Hero V on the consoles, the game is just a snack — something you can do in five minutes when you’re out and about.

In the game, the song plays and you see a yellow ribbon, sort of like Yellow Brick Road, snaking into the horizon on the iPhone’s touchscreen. You tilt back and forth to keep your rolling ball in the center of the ribbon as you speed down the road. The iPhone’s accelerometer senses which way you are tilting the device and translates that into twisting controls for the ribbon racing, much like tilting a screen to roll a marble in different direction’s in Sega’s classic iPhone game Super Monkey Ball.

Whereas Tap Tap Revenge is more passive, the player interacts with the music in Riddim Ribbon. If you crash too much, the music slows down and eventually makes a screeching sound. When the Black Eyed Peas shout “Boom! Boom!,” you have to make the ball jump through a couple of hoops. When the road forks in two directions, you have to steer right or left. Depending on which one you choose, you will get a different variation on the theme. So your game play impacts what kind of music you hear. There are eight different mixes of the three songs. As you play, you effectively create a new mix.

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