Review: Taxi Ball (iPhone)

Taxi Ball
Genre: Labyrinth Racing
Developer: Self Aware
Publisher: Apple
Release Date: 05/20/2009

It’s a labyrinth racing game. It’s a stick figure taxi service. It’s Taxi Ball.


Story / Modesimg_0002

There is not much of a story as one might expect since it is a game for the iPhone/iPod, but it sets the stage for time-killing enjoyment.

You’re a ball. You have a powerful urge to make money and impress your friends. You pick people up and tilt them through your labyrinth world to their checkerboard finish line.

If you do well, you unlock achievements and may proceed to more difficult and larger cities.

Story Rating: Enjoyable


Graphics

This is an iPhone game, so shockingly impressive graphics were not expected. What is available is nicely stylized and entertaining. For example, there are stick figures which make faces when you slam against walls in your taxi servicing overly hard. There are also dogs whose communication includes piles of feces.

Graphics Rating: Decent


Sound

There’s some kind of beatboxish thing happening on here which is fun and a nice change of pace from poor attempts at making synth music. That they had fun making this game really comes through in the little details like this.

Sound Rating: Above Average


Control and Gameplay

They went about making a labyrinth racing game and it plays exactly like you think that it might. You tilt your device from side to side. The greater the angle, the faster your ball will accelerate.img_00071

You have a set amount of time per level and, if you perform well, you can receive bonus time. Bonus and allotted time for transit is logical for each of the classes of fares with a modifier based on how gentle the ride was getting there.

The passengers that you pick up are all identical except for the color coded circle around them. Green means a short fare, yellow a moderately long distance, and with red you’re going to be taking the dude to the other side of the map.

Environmental features like grass, springboards, water hazards, and walls are present and makes the player more thoughtful about their path. You can hit a springboard and bounce over the water and get to the finish a couple more seconds faster than if you went around for example. Those seconds add up and may mean the difference between completing all the fares in the town or not.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Good


Replayabilityimg_00121

I took my time getting to know this game. After the initial player name registration, the internet is not required to play and enjoy this game. You can just whip it out and play for a few minutes here and there as you go about your day.

After having had this game with me for a while, I still find myself taking it out on occasion in waiting rooms or when momentarily waiting on others. The ability to lock the display at any moment and take it up where I left off works very well to a casual gaming experience.

Replayability Rating: Very Good


Balance

This title slides from easy in the tutorial and N00bsville towns to being a lot more difficult in later larger towns. After your initial break in period, you really need a plan to get all of the passengers to their destinations in the amount of time you are given.

The difficulty has a nice ramp up rate and makes this accessible for a variety of player personalities.

Balance Rating: Average


Originality

Crazy Taxi and labyrinth games have indeed been done before, and often, but this is the first time I’ve seen them together at once. Adding in competition amongst friends, achievements, and records is a nice touch.

Originality Rating: Mediocre


Addictiveness

This is very much a casual gaming title. It’s fun for a few minutes at a time, but it’s not an afternoon of play kind of game.

Addictiveness Rating: Poor


Appeal Factor

img_0001 There are a lot of really lame games on the iPhone platform. Thankfully, this is not one of them.

This game is pretty cute which, for iPhone/pod people at least, is a major draw.

Appeal Factor: Enjoyable


Miscellaneous

Cuteness should count for more in iPhone games as it might be the most important factor for the platform. This game feels like it was fun to make and isn’t taking itself too seriously. It is also well targeted in play style to this platform.

Miscellaneous Rating: Good


The Scores
Story: Enjoyable
Graphics:
Decent
Sound: Above Average
Control and Gameplay:
Good
Replayability:
Very Good
Balance:
Average
Originality: Mediocre
Addictiveness:
Poor
Appeal Factor:
Enjoyable
Miscellaneous:
Good

FINAL SCORE: Above Average

Short Attention Span Summary
Crazy Taxi meets Labyrinth in a casual gaming pickup game. Social and online abilities are present, but limited. Overall, it’s a bargain at the $1.99 current price for the amount of time that you can put into it.

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