Is it fun, or is Taxiball just another iPhone game trying to take you for a ride?
Go ahead and admit it. When the App Store came out you bought Labyrinth. You opened it up and played a few levels, marveling at how cool your iPhone’s accelerometer was. You may have even shown it to friends, but I would wager that you haven’t opened it much since then. It’s okay, it’s not your fault. Labyrinth was more of an iPhone toy than a real game, and until Taxiball came around you really didn’t know any better. Well, good news, now you can finally take Labyrinth off your phone’s app rotation, Taxiball is here and ready to blow you away.
In essence Taxiball took the ball in a maze concept and made it fun. Instead of a maze you navigate around a beautiful pixel city with buildings, parks, rivers, and all. Instead of just a steel ball you move around a yellow “Taxiball” which, when you position near pedestrians, will allow them to hop on and go for a ride. When they hop on your job is to take them to there desired destination in the city (shown by a checkerboard mat). You then tilt your iPhone to roll your ball around and over obstacles to take your passenger to his desired location.
As you travel be wary of bumping into things too hard or the passenger will get upset. You will also need to watch out for water, and be careful of navigating through obstacles like ice, moving pavement, and narrow passageways. Be careful not to take too long your trip is timed so you need to get there quickly or your fare will go down. Take too long and your passenger will get off paying you nothing. In addition to the timer for each passenger or “fare”, you also have a global timer. As you do jobs well you gain time on your global clock, if you mess up you lose time. This means even in-between fares your are racing around the city (maybe less carefully) to keep picking up new fares.
Your goal is to keep going as long as you can earning as much money as possible for each city. As you go along you also earn achievements for various things in each city. Progressing through the game unlocks bigger and bigger cities, with more obstacles, and more fares. Increasing both the challenge and the opportunity. Taxiball will also keep track of distance traveled, total fares, and other interesting data on your time spent in the game.
Taxiball also has an interesting “Friends” system. You can invite people to be your friends in game. This allows you to do several things. First, you can see your friends progress so you can see how you compare. Second, when you look at the high scores you can filter by your scores, global scores, and friends scores. So even if you aren’t top in the global list, at least you can beat your mates!
As you know I am a sucker for a game that has it all together. When the graphics, sound, and gameplay all fit together magic can happen and Taxiball is one of those games. The graphics are just boiling over with pixily goodness. The beat-box soundtrack is inspired, original, and fun. Each match perfectly with the gameplay which is simple and delightful. Simply put, Taxiball is awesome.
Taxiball is a very good, tight game. I don’t really have anything ‘bad’ to say, however to give it 5 stars the game really needs something more. The game is fun but the scope is limited, I would like to see the developers bring something else to the table to make it stand out.
A feature like friends is a cool idea, but without multiplayer it really doesn’t seem to do enough. I would really like to see the developers add a multiplayer feature where you can race around the same city with you and your friends’ Taxiballs racing against the clock for the most fares in a given period of time. I can see zooming around the city with your buddies knocking them down as you zip to your destination in the race for fist place.
In game the core gameplay is buttoned down but I find myself looking for a little more variety. Maybe some themed cities like zombie world, or an alien city. It also wouldn’t hurt to have some power-ups to vary the gameplay. I could imagine something that would allow you to fly over buildings for a limited time, or skim across water. I may not have played far enough into the game, but it would have been nice to see some outrageous characters too, like jugglers, mimes, people in monkey suits, whatever.
The controls in Taxiball are very good, but it would have been nice to have an option for a virtual D-pad, especially since the accelerometer does not work in every position (this accelerometer issue is a limitation with the device, not the game).
Presentation & Graphics
The graphics are incredible. I love the pixel art style, and it’s perfectly implemented in this game. The only reason I don’t give 5 stars here is that I would like to see a little more variety.
Amazing sound, totally creative and very original. I didn’t even test playing my own music, because there is no reason to.
Gameplay is as solid as iPhone games get. Super fun from beginning to end.
Taxiball has a lot of life in it, but after you complete all the levels and plateau at your maximum earnings you won’t have anywhere else to go. The good news is that it will take you a long time to get there, and the developer is planning on adding new levels in updates.
The Bottom Line
Although there are a few areas Taxiball could improve these are really add-ons as opposed to flaws in the game. Taxiball is an exceptionally fun game that will keep you entertained for hours. I highly recommend Taxiball, one of the newest winners of the coveted iPGN editors’ choice award.