Space Taxi

Let’s make some crazy money!

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

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.

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