In a better world, we might already be traveling by ball.
Taxiball, the first game for the iPhone from Self Aware Games, puts players behind the accelerometer’“’“steering wheel need not apply’“’“for an enjoyable blend of labyrinth-style, beat-the-clock gameplay that’s well worth a roll. There is much to like about Taxiball, and the game’s charm easily outweighs its foibles.
On a roll.
As the title suggests, players guide a yellow ball along twisting city avenues, ferrying passengers from point A to point B while collecting fares for their troubles. Throw in a few hazards–namely ice, tall grass, water and a few pesky moving-dot-on-the-road gravitational anomalies’“’“and you’re in for an intense race against the clock that’s equal parts challenging, entertaining, frustrating and ultimately very rewarding.
Making fine use of the iPhone’s accelerometer, the responsive tilt-controls are evenly suited for casual and die-hard players alike. A robust reward system accessible to players of all levels keeps things entertaining, and while simply unlocking the seven available cities might satisfy some, more dedicated gamers can justify their time by earning achievements and securing a place on the online leaderboards. There is a well-paced learning curve toward deftly navigating the cities’ obstacles, but because it only takes a couple of hours to roll through the seven maps, a larger lineup of cities might help to keep casual fans more satisfied.
One look at Taxiball and it’s clear that the developers had fun creating the title. The 8-bit style displays the vibrant, if simple, cities with an appealing hint of nostalgia. Passengers emote humorous reactions to your driving via overhead bubbles (take special care when driving the dog around!), and the soundtrack, consisting entirely of vocal percussion and voice work, brings a smile that only increases the game’s charm. There’s a good deal of colorful personality throughout, making the game a joy to look at and listen to.
Taxiball is a great value. At $1.99, fans of the ball-rolling genre will find plenty to keep themselves occupied. The game has a wonderful sense of humor and is engaging on all fronts. A large chunk of TaxiBall’s substance lies in obtaining achievements and high scores. As more levels are included through future updates, this one could well become a Must Have.