Space Taxi Remake


No guns. No enemies. Just your cab, gravity, and money to be made. In 16 colours or less. Those were the days of Space Taxi on the Commodore 64. Space taxi holds my fondest childhood gaming memories, and it has aged far better than others such as Choplifter, Burger Time, and Battle Thru Time. It’s even more fun than Bruce Lee, Aztec Challenge, and Fort Apocalypse!

Short -N- SweetTaxi Trainer
As an interesting project, I set out to remake the original for the PC (download link). I wanted it to look and play exactly like the game did from back on the Commodore. Via an emulator on the PC, I copied the original graphics and sampled the original sounds. I used a stopwatch to calculate gravitation, acceleration, and fuel consumption rates for each level. Playing obsessively, I dug for details to match my remake to the original. The “bong” as each part of the giant beanstalk grows. The time between customer spawns. The taxi’s bounce behavior on hard landings.

My remake coincided with a full sequel called Space Taxi 2 by Steve Verrault of Twilight Games. John F. Kutcher, the original game’s author, still has the rights to it and was involved in the new game. This meant that I couldn’t simply remake the full game and release it for free as it might have negatively impacted the new game’s sales. However, John generously allowed me to release my work with the first eight levels (the Day Shift) to spur interest in the new game. He even gave me the option of finishing the full game and selling it as an add-on to Space Taxi 2. Sadly, believing that not too many gamers would pay for my retro version, the project got pushed aside for other interests and I never completed the remaining 17 levels (yes, 25 levels total… didn’t you find the hidden level?)

Fans of the game will find lots of touches even in those eight levels. You can still fly your taxi just ever-so-slightly above the exit window and off the sides. If you are fast enough on Beanstalk, it’s possible to pick up just the first passenger and be done with the level in a hurry. And if you buy the farm on the teleporting level your cab can still be teleported even as it’s crashing to the ground in a huge fireball.

There are a couple of differences. The taxi looked absolutely terrible when it wasn’t showing on a television. I think it may have had something to do with the colours John chose to make the cab have rounded edges (anti aliasing). I had to design a new taxi that kept the look/feel of the original. You can see the same effect on the passengers, but I left them alone. I also increased the pixel resolution to three times the original depth. It just didn’t feel right playing with such chunky movement on a modern platform. It wasn’t retro… it was simply awful! I added in mouse support to the menus and put in a check for quit on press of the escape key (though you can turn those options off for authenticity).

I have a few regrets. I never fully captured the behavior of level 8 – Puzzler. Only the biggest fans will spot it, but I would like to go back and improve on it. The game is also lacking in a bit of robustness. It only runs full-screen, and only at 1024×768. If run from a protected folder (or inside the zip file) it will crash and provide no information as to why. This has to do with a 3rd party file packing utility I employed, and I need to give it some attention or strip it out for an alternative.

Space Taxi has aged incredibly well. Something about the gravity, acceleration, pressure for good tips, and the level variety came together in a perfect storm of gaming. Give it a try. It’s possible to break $1000 even from those first eight levels as long as you don’t need too much fuel (or any extra cabs). Have fun, and leave a comment if you enjoyed it!

If you didn’t find the link above, click here to Download Space Taxi

44 Comments

  1. Comment by Juris Purins on September 6, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve been a huge fan of the original, since the original days, and have absolutely loved your version. Liked the way the Taxi looked too. Always wanted to do my own remake but never had the time or skill. Found your game on the original Blitzcoder website, lamentedly gone. Would love to see you complete the game, or at least a few more levels. Might be possible once the sales of Space Taxi 2 die off, sadly, not as much fun as the original due to more randomness and less skill. I always found Space Taxi to be one of the best games of true skill out there. A work of genius, and a die hard favorite of many, especially in Europe for some reason.

    Thanks for having a Blog now.

    Juris:)

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on September 10th, 2008 at 10:44 pm

    Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It’s nice to know that people are actually giving the game a play. I also miss Blitzcoder; don’t know what really happened at the end there, and no replacement sites really did the trick for me.

    I plan on asking about finishing the full remake in a year’s time or so. It would be nice to put the entire thing out there. I did, however, enjoy Space Taxi II quite a bit. Did you know that they actually used John Kutcher’s voice for one of the customers?

    If I do get around to making more levels that can be released, you’ll hear about it here!

    Mike

    Reply

  2. Comment by Michael Betts on September 25, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks for bringing this back. I loved this game. It was definitely a favorite that I played on the Commodore. I tried to get Space Taxi 2 but the link on the site brings you to and error.

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on September 25th, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    Thanks for the comment. It’s great to know people are enjoying the game. I just tried the link on Twilight Games’ site and the free demo link was broken for me as well. I let them know. You should try back in a few days, it’s a great game!

    Mike

    Reply

    Reply by Anonymous on September 25th, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    The link should be corrected now.

    Reply

  3. Comment by Jimmy on October 14, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    This Remake is so cool…I really hope that you find the time to make the rest levels too…thanks for it…so long

    Reply

  4. Pingback by Blog aBlog; » Blog Archive » Up, please! on March 16, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    […] realizó una excelente labor en la remake del clásico juego, cuidando hasta el último detalle, tal como explica en su sitio.  Personalmente quedé asombrado por la similitud en todos los aspectos (gráficos, sonido, […]

  5. Comment by John Kutcher on March 21, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Hi Mike —

    Wanted to drop a line and say “Thanks!” for so many kinds words about Space Taxi. I am honored that you’ve worked on your remake, and if you ever need any details about things like the gravity parameters for each level, the way Puzzler works, etc, let me know! I hope someday, someone will make one of those little plug-in game consoles for Space Taxi, like the ones you see in the stores for some of the old arcade games.

    – John Kutcher

    Reply

  6. Comment by Sliney on August 27, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    So much better than Taxi 2 – had been looking for the original for some time —- miss my Commodore 64

    Thanks

    Reply

    Reply by WillLuongo on November 9th, 2009 at 1:13 am

    Hey Mike (and John),

    I absolutely love Space Taxi, it was one of the first games I ever played. I love your remake and hope you get the rest of the levels done. I’d certainly be willing to pay for it.

    John,

    I’m a hobbyist game writer, and I would love to talk to you about the development and such of the original Space Taxi. Would you be willing to do a IM or email conversation? I actually found this site because I was thinking about making my own remake, although it looks like a moot point, I doubt I could compete with this project.

    Thank you both for your amazing games!

    Will Luongo

    Reply

  7. Comment by WillLuongo on November 9, 2009 at 1:17 am

    Also, I apparently replied to the wrong comment. My apologies.

    Reply

  8. Comment by Martin on November 26, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Excellent! So many memories… definitely my favorite C64 game.
    More levels, more levels!

    Reply

  9. Comment by Matthew Barnes on November 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    i have fond memories of this game from my childhood.
    its great to see that someone has taken the time ti remake it in some way.
    when ive had a play of it ill let you know what i think.

    but thanks in advance for bringing back a classic game from a long time ago.

    Reply

  10. Comment by Todd on January 10, 2011 at 3:56 am

    Sweet! Thank you!

    Reply

  11. Comment by Felipe on February 28, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Nice job, great game. I love retro games. I will review it in my spanish webpage of old games.

    Reply

  12. Comment by Dennis on July 23, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Hi,

    I liked the remake. Are you remaking more old C64 games?

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on August 3rd, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Thanks! I would love to. My last job kept me so busy it didn’t leave time to do so. I’ve wanted to do a full-up Space Taxi on the iPhone. Other games with fond memories are Questron (but only I would appreciate it, I think), Lords of Conquest, Fort Apocalypse, and M.U.L.E (which would be amazing!). I remade another game, which you’ve probably never heard of, called Empire – which was a text based multiplayer country growth and warfare game as a gift for my brother. It was programmed in BASIC so I had all the source and I recreated it by painstakingly reading and recreating the original code – which was quite difficult as most of the variables were short names with no relation to the data they represented. Fixed many bugs and added a few. :)

    Glad you liked it!

    Reply

  13. Comment by Hommer on August 3, 2011 at 6:36 am

    Hi Mike.
    I really like your remake. I love that you have done a little retouch on the graphics but still it feels exactly like the old game.
    I have actually just finished a game inspired by Space Taxi myself: ‘Hommers Space Taxi’ :-)
    It’s made in Flash. Would you check it out, and see if you like it?: http://www.hommer.dk/taxi

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on August 3rd, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Thanks. I gave yours a play – very Space Taxi! It took me a while to get used to being able to steer while landing. Had a neat feel to it. Does the 3D actually work?

    Mike

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on August 3rd, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Haha! Just clicked it. Nice!

    Mike

    Reply

  14. Comment by Taxi Driver on August 24, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    LOL i sure remember this from back in the day

    Reply

  15. Comment by Imhotep on September 17, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Hi Mike!
    I hope you will do the ipad version of space taxi :) I am for sure to download it !
    Great retro game. Bring back memories :)
    THANKS!

    Reply

  16. Comment by n0x0n on January 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Wow, that was really fun to play – until I got to the BEANSTALK level…
    This level is just too difficult for me :-(

    Reply

  17. Comment by Ron on December 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    I just wanted to say that I love the original version of this game and it really brought back memories from my childhood to play it again. Thanks for doing this. Awesome job !

    Reply

  18. Comment by Mark Roth on June 23, 2013 at 10:36 am

    My 4 year old was playing with a taxi and it suddenly jogged my memory of Space Taxi. I told him about the game and we watched a long play YouTube video. I then had to inform him that, unfortunately, the game no longer exists… Until we found your remake! Thanks so much for making this – it is extremely faithful to the original and brings back great memories.

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on June 23rd, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    I love it! Years later and people are still finding this and enjoying it.

    I sometimes toy with making an iPhone or Android game…maybe it’s time….

    Mike

    Reply

    Reply by Sickbag on September 29th, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Hi, I also found it sad that the 1st version no longer exist, but then I learned theres a way to play it on your pc using a commodore 64 emulator (i have every commodore 64 games on my pc, theres over 10k of em apparently). I can play em with any windows compatible controller. I wont explain the whole thing right now caus its a bit tricky, but tell me if you want to know more about it… OH!! and theres every levels in it 😉

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on September 30th, 2014 at 8:03 am

    For the record, I used an emulator to make my remake – taking screen shots of objects, sampling sounds, measuring acceleration and so on. It’s pretty darn cool to have access to your old library.

    Mike

    Reply

    Reply by Sickbag on September 30th, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    well its really easy to have access to those kind of library, just google your console + ultimate rom pack
    i also did it for Atari, Coleco, Nintendo and SEGA (nintendo 64 included)

  19. Pingback by LGR – Space Taxi – Commodore 64 Game Review | MyKnowledgePage on November 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    […] Get the free 8-level PC remake:http://michael.lesauvage.name/space-taxi/ […]

  20. Pingback by Spiele, die ich vermisse #20: Space Taxi | SHOCK2SHOCK2 on November 25, 2013 at 11:51 am

    […] originalgetreuem Sound und Grafik) absieht (wer’s ausprobieren will – die Version gibt es hier: http://michael.lesauvage.name/space-taxi/). Und das ist eigentlich […]

  21. Comment by Siggi B on May 6, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Just found you after an exhaustive search around the interpipes, and am absolutely *thrilled* to be able to replay the original ST. It looks and feels and behaves exactly like I remember! So freaking awesome :-)

    It’s been an absolute age since you did up the first 8 levels; we’d all be absolutely stoked if you were to finish off the others; I dont think the ST II guys would be too upset if you did, it’s been 10 years since they released ST II after all…

    I’d like an android version (Galaxy S3), but the screen might be a bit squished? I’m definitely having a blast with the PC version, that’s for sure!

    Love your work!

    Stew B.

    Reply

  22. Comment by Christian on July 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Wonderful remake, thank you so much! Feels exactly like steering the old “space taxi” on my c64 as a kid. The first 8 levels are way too easy, though.

    Reply

  23. Comment by Sickbag on September 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    Hi michael, i just found your remake of the game when i was searching for space taxi2 website to buy it (i feel a bit guilty i downloaded an illegal version of it a couple of years ago when i had no money) but luckily i found your work before i could find em and im really frustrated too see what they did to you. Now i dont want to give em any$$ and believe me they will know it…
    I mean, find the mistake. they said your work would affect their sale, and they also said that people wont care if they add it in TS2. I had 2 regrets with their game : 1 the camera is all the way zoomed in, and 2, there is no original version of the game, just like the old one on the commodore 64

    Theres still one thing you can probably do to improve the situation a bit. Im pretty sure they wont care if you add a level creator in your remake (and be sure its possible to create those missing levels by ourselves…)

    One last thing, its true that the taxi feel a lot like the old one, but 1 big detail is missing in my advice… the fact that the older version lot bigger pixels really affected how the taxi was moving, because it was moving pixel by pixel (i love how it is now, but it would be nice to have the possibility to select it in the options). Also, i dont remember the gravity was so much different between 2 levels.

    Well, thanks a lot for your work man, im a fan of good remakes just like your and theres a lot of nostalgia in your remake. :)

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on September 30th, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Well, I thought ST2 was an excellent game – like all remakes they had to make allowances for technological change. To some degree it was more a “re-imagining” than a remake, but that’s just quibbling; you either like the result or you don’t. The camera zoom wasn’t my favourite either, but I don’t think one static screen would have worked either.

    I would have loved to have carried on with Space Taxi, but the fact was that the ST2 team had already made a deal with John Kutcher, and it would have been unfair to them for him to allow me to press forward at that time. Maybe I’ll go back to it someday…

    I hadn’t thought about doing a version using the original pixels and stepwise motion. That would be interesting to see – but sometimes a perfect retro just feels wrong. I know I struggled with the taxi design, because the look of the original was strongly influenced by the size and technology of CRT screens. What had worked as anti aliasing now just looked terrible.

    I feel pretty confident that the gravity is close to 100% perfect. I timed the taxi fall rate on the original and matched it on every level. Taxi Trainer was always a real surprise because of the sudden jump in gravity.

    Thanks much for your compliments – I had a lot of fun making it and it has been a pleasure to see people enjoy the remake.

    Mike

    Reply

    Reply by ken on September 6th, 2015 at 9:19 pm

    good game i use to play it when i was a kid I’m 43

    Reply

  24. Comment by Rüdiger on November 6, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Hi,
    after completing all levels of ST2 (we found a few years ago when I told my son about the computer-games of my childhood) my son asked me to download your remake. It’s really great and we’re disappointed about the missing levels :-( . I had to smile when I heard the sounds seemed to be really phantastical in times of C64.
    I would pay an extra fee for the original levels as extension to ST2 (a really nice game, too).

    Thanks for sending me on a journey to my childhood!

    Rüdiger

    Reply

  25. Comment by CyberPaladin on November 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you.
    It is amazing how you managed to get the physics of the game to match the original so closely. I have played Space Taxi 2, which is fun, but your remake is so much like the original that I can almost fly the taxi with my eyes closed. As a programmer for the psst 30 years, I appreciate the effort that went into it. I still have my C64 and every few years bring it out. Space Taxi, Super Boulder Dash and Wizard being my favorites.

    Reply

    Reply by Mike LeSauvage on November 29th, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Thanks so much. It took a long, long time for some levels. Repeated replays with a stopwatch as the game played out so I could get the gravity just write. When I was discussing my programming approach with Mr. Kutcher later, it turned out that I had a very similar framework to his approach (though with a much higher level language obviously). I still want to go back and finish this up…though I don’t know if Blitz Basic would still be my language of choice. I think it would be time to learn Unity…

    Reply

  26. Comment by Lev on July 2, 2016 at 4:19 am

    Nice to see my favourite C64 game on the PC. I haven’t played this since the 1980’s.

    Reply

  27. Comment by Daryl Cummins on July 5, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Amazing! So happy to find this and it seems perfect to the original from what I have played so far. Brings back so many memories. I love the added touch of (LOAD “SPACE TAXI”,8,1). How many times I must have typed that in the 80’s! Fantastic, thanks for the hard work, can’t wait to show this to my sister.

    Reply

  28. Comment by DaisyOberle on April 9, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    I see your blog needs some fresh & unique content.

    Writing manually is time consuming, but there is solution for this hard task.
    Just search for; Miftolo’s tools rewriter

    Reply

  29. Pingback by LGR – Space Taxi – Commodore 64 Game Review | Mario Cube on August 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    […] Space Taxi Remake […]

  30. Pingback by LGR – Space Taxi – Commodore 64 Game Review | YYAHO NEWS on August 15, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    […] Space Taxi Remake […]

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a comment

Neglect-O-Blog is proudly powered by WordPress and themed by Mukkamu