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== Review: airTaxi by David C. May By: Jason Compton ==
Commodore 64 nostalgia mode engaged.
Muse Software was a great company in its day, early to mid eighties. Most
notably, they're responsible for the "action/adventure" games Castle
Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein (Nothing to do with the 3D
perversion by a similar name. In some ways, the 64 version is still more
fun), and Space Taxi.
If Muse had consistent qualities, it was for enjoyable gameplay and crude
digitized sound. They would cram little voice snippets into that small
memory to add atmosphere to their games. (Who could forget Hitler pacing
back and forth in his bunker, frequently stopping to say "Heil!" to the
seaten Nazi officers, who would reply in a deeper voice the same "Heil!"?)
Space Taxi wasn't about Nazis, but it made use of voice samples as well.
The premise was this: you drove a small flying vehicle and shuttled people
from pad to pad on a screen which could have anything from candy to a
marching Nazi to block your path.
It was, in short, a fun game. I remember discovering that the level of my
choice could be reached by shutting off the disk drive on level 1, playing
it X times, then turning the drive back on: X+1 would be loaded.
I've seen other Space Taxi clones on the Amiga, but none that captured the
spirit of the game as well as David May's airTaxi. Even though the
original samples have been replaced by much less scratchy incarnations, the
old feelings come back with every call of "Hey, Taxi."
May has put a lot of sophistication into the game. No longer just an
experience for one player, with the right tools (a parallel-port joystick
adapter) and 4 friends, you can have up to 5 taxis cruising around the
screen at once. However, based on results of my games with Katie, two's a
crowd, as things can get pretty cramped on the screen, and collisions are
The upshot of the game is still the same: fly customers from one pad to
another, and get paid based on how long it took you to get them there.
This, of course, means that if you're not a quick and efficient cabbie,
you'll be a cabbie operating at a loss, since fuel is necessary and
expensive. There are three types of customers: red, yellow, and white, who
offer increasingly large tips. However, since you get penalized for
killing customers (as in, getting yourself killed with a customer onboard)
according to how much they tip, if you get killed with a white customer in
the car early on, you may as well hit ESCape.
The levels are often quite complex, offering zero gravity environments,
drafty areas, hell-bent destructive seeking satellites, and magnetic
spheres to make your job difficult.
The game is written in AMOS and is ECS, playable on just about any
configuration, and is NTSC. It's also a mere US$5 to register, and the
shareware levels should be more than enough to convince you. Arcade fans
and those who shiver in anticipation at the words "Pad 3, please" will want
to pick this up.
David C. May
1931 West 5745 North
St. George, UT 84770-5959