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Back to Taxi info page

Review: John Whyatt on ??/12/1989

taxi
From Pinball Player - Volume 13 #10

You don't find TAXI, another Williams' driving theme game all that often, and that's a pity because it is a challenging game which tests the player's skill well. In particular, the ramp and long shots will sort the good pinball players out from the bad.

The basic game objective is to pick up a motley selection of passengers comprising 'GORBIE' - president Gorbachev; 'SANTA' - Santa Claus; 'PIN-BOT' - of Pinball fame; 'MARILYN' - Marilyn Monroe; and finally 'DRAC' - Count Dracula and drive them to the 'airport'. Incorporated into the game are two ball multi-ball play, a jackpot with a potential of 4,000,000 points, and unique 'METER BONUS' which scores to 99,000 points. Also, included is the ingenious kick-out hole which can score any of five different features - up to three of which can be awarded at any one time.

The Playfield

To assist understanding of the game description, I will briefly describe the playfield layout.

At one end of the plunger lane is the 'SPIN-OUT' feature which delivers the ball to a kick-back at the top right of the playfield. At the very top of the playfield are the C-A-B rollovers and further to the left, a kick-out hole. Beneath the C-A-B lanes are three Jet Bumpers - above, and slightly to the left of the bumpers is the 'CARRY PASSENGERS' target. In the centre of the playfield, beneath the bumpers, and only accessible from the flippers is a set of three drop targets for spotting 'MARILYN'. On the right, and immediately above the outlane is another bank of three drop targets, these spot 'PIN-BOT'. Just above this bank of targets is a lane leading to a multi-ball lock kick-out hole known as 'EXPRESSWAY 1'. On the opposite side of the table is 'EXPRESSWAY 2' which leads into a kick-big for spotting 'DRAC'. The ball exits the kick-big via one of the two plastic ramps which form a figure-of-eight over the top of the main playfield. These two ramps comprise the 'AIRPORT RIDES', making the left ramp lights the right ramp and vice versa. At the bottom of the table is the standard arrangement of outlanes and flippers.

Hail the cab!

The plunger shot delivers the ball to the 'SPIN-OUT' feature which consists of a funnel like plastic assembly and the kick-back previously described. As the ball enters the funnel, the SPIN-OUT value, displayed by lights adjacent to the plunger lane and values presented on the score displays, starts incrementing from 1K - 5K - 10K - 25K - 50K - 75K - 100K. The value drops from 100K back to 1K and repeats - the lit value being awarded when the ball drops from the funnel into the kick-back. The 25K value also spots a random PASSENGER. Each successive plunger shot (after Extra Ball or Multi-Ball locks) scores the SPIN-OUT value multiplied by a value 1X - 5X. The SPIN-OUT value is obviously determined by the strength of the plunger shot.

The ball is now kicked to the top of the playfield, and will pass through one of the C-A-B lanes. Completing C-A-B advances the meter bonus multiplier and increases the Jackpot Value, this being displayed in the Taxi Meter Window on the backglass for a short time after the increase. The C-A-B lanes can be rotated by the flipper button lane change control. After the Meter Bonus Multiplier has reached its maximum value of 5X, a further completion of C-A-B lights EXPRESSWAY 2 for an Extra Ball.
Spotting any of the five passengers awards 20K plus a 20K tip when the ball goes out of play, provided the passenger is still lit. The passengers carried are displayed on a light matrix in the centre of the playfield. Scoring the Jackpot will extinguish all carried passengers (so no tips!), and Marilyn may be extinguished during pursuit of the Jackpot - see paragraph 'JACKPOT'.

As mentioned earlier, EXPRESSWAY 2 spots 'DRAC', and the drop target banks 'MARILYN' and 'PIN-BOT'. 'SANTA' is spotted by entering the top-left kick-out hole via a flipper shot or bumper rebound. 'GORBIE' may be spotted by making the same hole, but using a different route - a long shot up the right side of the table, across the C-A-B lanes and into the hole from above. The CARRY PASSENGER target is lit by making either bank of drop targets. Hitting this target when lit allows the player to carry over any spotted passengers to the next ball, or in the case of the last ball, the tips are awarded twice.

The meter bonus increments on the backglass display continuously while a ball is kept in play. The flipper return lanes also increment this bonus by 5K. After each ball is lost, the Meter Bonus is collected and multiplied.

Joyrides

The right flipper return lane lights the 'SANTA' shot for a pre-determined time. Making this shot whilst lit awards one of the following bonuses as displayed on the backglass - 10K - MYSTERY SCORE - SPOT A PASSENGER - EXTRA BALL or SPECIAL.

Airport Rides

Making the left and right ramps alternately increases the AIRPORT RIDE bonus (awarded for making the lit ramp) from 20K - 40K - 60K - 80K - 100K. Successfully making the 100K shot lights the 'SANTA' shot for 1 MILLION points. In this way, it can be seen that skilful play could achieve three awards simultaneously - spot 'SANTA', JOYRIDE and score a Million! You may think that a player could become confused as to which particular award(s) he was trying to achieve, but fear not, because all the bonus awards and shots required to get them are very clearly marked on the playfield.

As previously mentioned, EXPRESSWAY 1 forms a lock, and a ball locked here may be released by making the left ramp. This initiates two-ball multi-ball play, during which, the player should attempt to re-lock one ball in EXPRESSWAY 1, and then make EXPRESSWAY 2 before the first ball is re-released (usually after about 20 seconds). Successfully locking both balls awards 300K. All subsequent Airport Rides score 100K whilst both balls remain in play. Whilst attempting to lock the second ball, the sound effects are at their best with the machine shouting encouragement, "Sir! - Quick, to the Airport - Sir!".

Following a period of multi-ball play, EXPRESSWAY 1 lock can be re-enabled by completing the PIN-BOT targets.

Jackpot

Spotting all five passengers on any one ball lights the 'GORBIE' shot for the Jackpot, the value being displayed in the Meter Bonus Window. The shot must be made quickly, or else 'MARILYN' will be put out, requiring the centre drop targets to be made to re-light the jackpot. Collecting the Jackpot and then re-lighting it in any one game will light the outlanes alternately for SPECIAL.

Conclusions

I make no apology for repeating what I said earlier: TAXI is a very challenging game, probably underrated due to its scarcity, although I believe there's a surplus of these machines in Germany. The sound effects are excellent, features innovatory, it's portrayal of the Russian Head Of State daring, and backglass imaginative. If you're lucky enough to find one, give it a drive!