“Starbear: Taxi” falls into that sweet spot of cheap games that offer little, but also demand little. It wastes no time in getting to the action. And in knowing what little action it offers, it wastes no time in getting back in action after each game over. The arcade style of gameplay makes for enjoyable short bursts of fun if you can get used to the controls.
Developer/Publisher: FUNKTRONIC Labs
Genre: Race against the clock
Controller: 1 Move
Game Length: 3 hours
PlayPSVR Score: 6 out of 10
In “Starbear: Taxi,” I had to use the move controller to fly a bear’s UFO around a group of floating platforms in the sky, acting as a taxi for bears between the platforms. The game controlled via tilting the move controller forward, back, left, or right, and the move controller’s trigger button could be used to apply varying degrees of thrust to accelerate or simply elevate the UFO. The controls felt absurdly sensitive initially, but they’re not impossible to get accustomed to.
Aside from taxiing bears from one small platform to another, some bears have special objectives to complete, such as collecting jars of honey, destroying construction blocks with a wrecking ball, or throwing cars into a black hole using a temporary magnet. All tasks provided a time bonus when they began and a point bonus when they were completed, ensuring that I was always trying to keep up my pace against the quickly depleting clock. While completing these tasks, I also had to dodge incoming enemy missiles, exploding mines, and point-stealing magnetized thieves. All of the elements combine to create a hectic environment that provides a gradually increasing challenge that seems fitting for the type of game.
The game offered two other gameplay modes. The “challenge mode” provided the same gameplay but with the strict rule of a game-over whenever my taxi is hit by an enemy. A more varied “Bullet Heck” mode required me to dodge lines and patterns of mines and rockets while surviving and optionally collecting jars of honey to increase my score. Although its not much, this gameplay mode provided a nice break between rounds of the main game.
Starbear: Taxi followed an interesting arc with me. It was immediately incredibly frustrating, but once I acclimated to the controls, the game became a simple but charming diversion. I found it to be a wonderful “warm-up” game to play while waiting for downloads to finish or for controllers to charge. The game was quick to get into action in between rounds, which meant I ended up playing far longer and far more than I had initially expected to. The charming aesthetics, surprisingly addicting gameplay, and pop-in gameplay sessions make for a wonderful tiny addition to the PSVR library.