Space Taxi

Graphics: 4
Sound: 5
Control: 5
Depth: 5
Overall: 5

Space Taxi

By: John F Kutcher
Published By: Muse Software
Released: 1984

Space Taxi is a clever variation on Lunar Lander type gravity games. Piloting a spacecraft to landing pads while dealing with fuel and obstacles is a given in the genre, but adding passengers to pick up and drop off "while the meter is running" is ingenious. Featuring over 24 levels and fun use of sampled speech, what makes Space Taxi so enjoyable is its attention to detail.

When you have a fare, your landing better be smooth if you want a tip. The worlds are varied—one for every hour in the day—ranging from plausible cityscapes to surreal giant beanstalks and huge ping pong tables. Potential passengers will call out "Hey Taxi!" and specify which pad is their destination. Some worlds have realistic gravity, others wreck havoc with it—often the more devious levels. If you are good enough to play through all the boards in a row, you can play a bonus world that references Muse's other games at the time.

The graphics are often a bit basic, as is often the case with games that rely on the system's keyboard graphics mode, but the gameplay more than makes up for it. If you like games that deal with thrust and gravity, it's a must play. Space Taxi is probably my favorite Commodore game of all time.

-Ben Langberg

Postscript: If you are interested in MORE Space Taxi, a PC remake/sequel with input from the original programmer was released a few years back, and is still available.


Easter Egg

There's an inbuilt cheat mode in Space Taxi (the cryptic key combination instructions to find it are given in the Mystery Screen [you enter Mystery Screen after finishing the random 24 hour shift]). The place to use the keys is in the documentation screen (press down at title screen to enter the docs). The trick is to keep an eye on the word FIRE at the bottom and press (in C64 keys) pi until the text changes to grey, then press up arrow until it changes back to black and then press star to enter the secret menu.

I've only been able to enter the secret menu in CCS64, and even then it's trickier than it seems. The keys in PC keyboard are shift+delete (pi), delete (up arrow) and the key beside enter (star). But when you first press (hold it for a few seconds) shift+delete and the text FIRE turns grey CCS64 enters (at least on my machine) a kind of "constant shift"-mode and it's impossible to press plain delete anymore! Well, the way to return the shift-balance is to press delete, then caps lock, delete, caps lock, delete, caps lock and finally delete. The text FIRE should turn back to black (and if it doesn't, continue to do the sequence for a little while longer and hold the keys down for at least a second at a time). After that it's easy to just press the key beside enter (star), get to the secret menu and wonder all the goodies it offers!

-Jarmo Niinisalo