Let’s make some crazy money!
Paul Drury channels The Fifth Element’s Corbin Dallas in this C64 adventure
» Commodore 64 » 1984 » muse I’ve noted before in these pages how Interceptor Micro’s Siren
City is like a primitive iteration of Grand Theft Auto and here is another early Eighties C64 game which could be seen as the spiritual ancestor to a big hit in the Nineties.
Space Taxi casts you as a futuristic cabbie, picking up fares and delivering them to their destinations whilst negotiating laser fire sprouting beanstalks, black holes and giant games of ping pong. If Sega’s Crazy Taxi isn’t quite crazy enough for you, you should try this.
The 24 screens, one for each hour of an especially long and demanding cabbie shift, are not only wildly varied, there are lots of smile-inducing nods to other games of the era. Taxi Maze resembles Super Sprint played in zero gravity and Shift-o-rama riffs on Frogger. Shooting Stars presents you with a classic Lunar Lander setup and there is a Jumping Jack feel to Electroids, as you carefully navigate gaps in an array of force fields.
It’s a tough game, undoubtedly, requiring brainwork as well as dexterity. Just managing your fuel reserves and coping with the inertia caused by your thrust is challenging enough without the myriad obstacles and fiendish level design. There is a tangible sense of relief when your next customer, summoning you with a gruff ‘Hey, Taxi’ (my second favourite use of speech on the C64 after Impossible Mission’s ‘Stay Awhile’), lollops into the back of your cab and says, ‘Up, please’, meaning your work is finally done and you can progress to the next surreal scenario.
There’s even a secret level to discover, and a charming end screen, though if you make it that far you’re a better chauffeur than I am. If you need any more encouragement to try this often overlooked title, Jeff Minter named it as his favourite game during the ‘Spectrum Versus C64’ debate held a few years back at Play Expo. Recommendations don’t come much higher.