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Cart [#cosmic_cab-1#] | Code | 2019-08-10 | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA | Embed

[UPDATE 1.0]
Embedded new sprite sheet as provided by @ghostneedle to improve platform color coding.

A brand new take pure arcade take on Space Taxi from Muse in 1984!

Start a new cab business and master gravitational physics and expert timing to navigate your cosmic cab to pickup and drop off travelling folk who are of course always in a hurry! Naturally you'll be competing with a privatised public transport service that won't hesitate to nick your customers right in front of you! Also, don't forget to get fuel before you run out, but watch out for gravity defying rolling fuel barrels getting in your way! How long will you last and how much value will you gain for your enterprise?


Left, Right and Up to thrust in the corresponding direction while airborne
Up to retract landing gear and get airborne from a platform
Down to toggle landing gear while airborne
Left and Right to select avatar upon receiving a new high score
X + O pressed simultaneously to confirm


  • 4 Different level types from easy to insanely tough navigation!
  • A great feel of control and sense of accomplishment once you get the hang of it!
  • After every 4 levels it gets significantly more challenging!
  • Split second decisions making for coping with dilemmas built-in!
  • Pick an avatar for your high scores!
  • Not Game Over but Bankruptcy is what you need to avoid!
  • Losing a cab will progressively double the insurance premium!
  • You’ll get a bonus company value increase on level completion!
  • Green floating indicators increase the change of critical tipping!
  • Either thrust or use your landing gear, not both at the same time!
  • Clients appear and vanish through super cool and animated portals!
  • Color coded platforms for instant understanding of your flight path!
  • Super cool thrust effects and dynamic color conform landing dust
  • Explosive crashes!
  • Dust falling of moving level gates!
  • In other words: overzealous polish!
  • Cart is close to full capacity of code tokens and close to 100% compressed data size after major optimisations


I've spent roughly 35 years conceptualising games and implementing video game technology and although I have tried before, I had actually never completed a full game until now. The way PICO-8 works and mostly due to its intentional limitations, and also because of a planned surgery that had me forced to take some time off from my company, I've finally crossed that bridge and this is the result: my first game is done and that's one item off my bucket list. Time for me to move on to my second! Anyway, I hope you enjoy! ;)

P#65303 2019-06-20 11:33 ( Edited 2019-08-10 16:09)

this game is battletoads level

P#65319 2019-06-21 12:32

Battletoads? Sounds like a compliment ;). I've never played that game myself TBH, but I know it has quite a reputation. My inspiration I got from Space Taxi and later Ugh! though.

P#65320 2019-06-21 12:40

Its very hard, but very entertaining!

P#65324 2019-06-21 16:10

Oh wow, thank you so much! That was the intent :). Actually, right now I do expect, once you get the hang of it, the game may become less appealing and if that’s the case I’ll try going in again and think of ways to introduce new challenges and surprises ;)

P#65325 2019-06-21 16:18

This is an awesome gem and very addicting. One of the best games for PICO-8.
I'm still not good enough to progress beyond the 4th level.

I thought that sharing this would be useful.

I tweaked the colors to enhance visibility:

  • Replaced fuel platform dark blue surface with striped light blue+silver surface
  • Replaced red+pink platform color with striped tan+brown
  • Replaced red+pink flag color with checkered tan+brown
  • Replaced red+pink vehicle light color with tan+brown

My issue with the original colors is that:

  • The fuel platform surface is hard to see against the black background. It's very easy to misjudge the surface, especially on the 4th level.

  • The pink+purple and red+pink platforms are hard to distinguish using the customer flag and vehicle lights. This side effect of this is that I need to spend more time looking at the customer flag and sometimes I transport customers to the wrong platform.

Visibility is worse if not playing in fullscreen.

I discovered that painting the fuel platform with silver gives different colors on levels beyond level 1.
I thought that it was a cool effect.

I chose tan+brown because they were unused for any platforms. Any other colors would cause the same issue.

I chose to stripe the tan+brown platform because otherwise it would be hard to distinguish from the gold+orange platform. I checkered the flag and vehicle light to match this as well.

I also chose to stripe the fuel platform for similar reasons.

P#66492 2019-08-10 08:55 ( Edited 2019-08-10 15:13)

@ghostneedle: Loving this! If feels strangely satisfying that someone should pickup my work and improve it and those are really good changes as well! Although fully aware of the readability issues with specific colors, I got stuck with the craving for symmetry problem most originally tech folks such as myself get to deal with ;). Anyway, thanks a lot!

P#66494 2019-08-10 09:08

@RalphEgas Here's the sprite sheet. Had I known at the time that I could export or import them I would've posted it earlier.

BTW, Any reason that the version number isn't 1.0 instead of 0.1 since it's finished? Perhaps it could be updated to 1.0.1 someday? :D

P#66499 2019-08-10 15:28 ( Edited 2019-08-10 15:31)

@RalphEgas The flying feels really good. I think the same flying vehicle could be used in other types of games such as a racing title, etc.

P#66500 2019-08-10 15:34

@ghostneedle Thanks a lot! Good question. My intention was to first publish a Work-in-progress version at 0.1. Then I realised that the game, albeit small, is actually in a finished state and never bothered to update to 1.0. That's all. I've recently released my second game and wanna do 1 finished game a month.

That said, I'll publish a new version with your changes and launch it as 1.0, cool?

P#66501 2019-08-10 15:42

@RalphEgas Yep. Feel free to add the changes. You don't need to credit me since it's just color swaps :D

One game a month is a great feat. Hopefully I can do something like that someday.

P#66502 2019-08-10 15:52 ( Edited 2019-08-10 15:55)

@ghostneedle: Done! Couldn't resist adding you in the update comments though ;)

P#66503 2019-08-10 16:10

@RalphEgas Nice! Close to perfection!

I had one odd playthrough on v1.0 of level 1 where 5 of 8 customers appeared on the striped platform for the pink one. I did some resets and playtesting and noticed that customers were biased to appearing on the striped platform, and averaging about 3 or 4 of 8 customers, which was more noticeable on the levels past the 1st since there are >3 platforms.

I could only assume that it was some quirk of pico-8's randomness since when I spaced out the time between playthroughs the customer appearances were more spread out.

I could assume that they appear furthest away from where the train is too.

I'll let you know if I notice anything more but thanks for the update!

P#66508 2019-08-10 17:26 ( Edited 2019-08-10 17:40)

PICO-8's random number generator is limited and biased indeed, however, it's also true that my game's platform selection has its own unintentional bias. It would take me several hours to rewrite the code to have it uniformly distributed which I'll take care of at some point. The fact that the bias seems to be connected to the striped platform in particular is purely due to the striped platform's location in the level, not because it's using striped colors or anything ;)

P#66512 2019-08-10 19:32

@RalphEgas I was able to clear level 4 but only after discovering that this tile wasn't decoration. I didn't know why my cab was being destroyed even though the ground appeared safe to land on. Aside from the bright blue dots I couldn't see the rest of the sprite against the black background. I only learned this from investigating the platform in the sprite editor. I knew something was off about level 4's fuel platform.

Is this tile supposed to kill? I recolored it to make it more visible.

I also think that level 3 feels a bit too easy to navigate, and the difference in difficulty from level 3 to level 4 is too large, so maybe these spikes (if they are indeed hazards) could also be put onto level 3's fuel platform?

P#66556 2019-08-11 18:32 ( Edited 2019-08-11 19:04)

@RalphEgas Will you consider letting players reset high scores as well?

P#66560 2019-08-11 19:07

Yes it’s supposed to happen. Tiles don’t kill. Uneven heights do though. The platform should be flat across the landing gear. Apparently my monitor (settings) provide more contrast between black and dark blue.

P#66561 2019-08-11 19:09

Sure! But I’m working on my next prototype. For every PICO-8 prototype I consider for basing a full game off I’d definitely consider stuff like that but I don’t intend to go back to my prototypes for that level of polish. For this reason I’m also providing source code so that other folks can add features.

P#66562 2019-08-11 19:12 ( Edited 2019-08-11 19:14)

@RalphEgas That's understandable. I actually thought about trying to add the "reset highscores" feature myself. I'll give it a go and I'll let you know if I was successful.

I think that what I've mentioned so far would be a good final update if you choose to accept the changes (after I've shown them to you).

  1. Recolor that one tile
  2. Reset highscores
  3. Maybe add that tile to lvl3's fuel platform

#3 could be excluded if you don't want to mess with the balance of difficulty.

P#66588 2019-08-11 23:44 ( Edited 2019-08-11 23:49)

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