Taxiball a creatively fun ride

Posted: May 21, 2009 in Puzzle

What do marble rolling and driving taxis have in common? If you’re Taxiball, then it’s a winning combination in a fun, maze-based game where the objective is not only pick up and drop off customers, but also to make enough money to make it to the next town. Taxiball is one of the more creative games I’ve come across that is not only challenging but polished in what it provides.

Visually, Taxiball is full of colorful and neatly designed graphics from the trees to the building structures. Packaged with an amazing soundtrack of human beatboxing, Taxiball has 6 levels of gameplay, and while that sounds short, the replayability is immensely more. Each level or town with names such as Noobsville, Hometown and Venice provides progressively difficult gameplay. Accelerometer controlled, you roll taxiball through the streets picking up passengers. The controls, which can be calibrated, are very smooth and relatively easy to use, and you should be able to play comfortably right from the start.

Taxiball has an awards system consisting of more than 45 achievements that are earned for completing fun tasks including

Speed Demon—Completing a fare in less than 2 seconds
A Satisfied Customer—Earned more than $700 on a single fare
Completionist—Cleared all fares in every city
Soft-boiled—Played for more than 1 hour

Of course, passengers are not all the same. In general, you have a 1-minute clock to start. Passengers in yellow and green rings travel only short to medium distances allowing for more complete trips and earn more time but bring in less money. Those with red rings pay larger fares with fewer trips but take more time. Part of the strategy will be to weigh both of those considerations as you taxiball through town.

The gameplay is fast paced and challenging because there are obstacles that can hinder the taxiball. These include slippery ice, heavy grass, and water traps. The game screen is very basic with an overall game timer, current fare pickup and total fares collected. As passengers are picked up, a green arrow appears in front of your taxiball pointing in the direction of the drop-off point. A handy map is accessible in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Note that a timer for a fare begins since you have limited time to reach the drop-off point which is identified by a checkered design on the path. If time expires before reaching the drop-off point, you lose the fare as well as valuable time. For example, red-ringed passengers provide more time to reach the drop-off point because of the longer travel distance. A counter also shows the total number of waiting passengers and the number you’ve dropped off. While the game sounds simple, you can easily be hampered by obstacles, make the wrong turn, or get stuck in a dead end alley. In later levels, the cities are denser so maneuverability will be less forgiving.

Taxiball has a lot of neat little details that make it fun. Besides the great music, little balloon faces appear representing the state of your passenger during the ride. If you’re like me, bumping into buildings and obstacles will be the norm, and those smiling balloon faces will transform into angry ones. To add to the replayability, Taxiball has a global online scoreboard where you can even share scores with friends. The game is nicely set up for that, and you’ll need to add your name the first time you play.

Taxiball offers an innovatively entertaining twist to the game of marble rolling and can only hope new levels are in its future. For those on the fence, I’m sure the lite version will quickly convert you to buying the full version.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for those looking for a casual game that offers the right balance of challenge and fun)

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