The meter is on

Whacksy Taxi is a fast-paced, ad-supported racing game with old-school graphics and controls--and a surprising amount of quality content for a free game.

Whacksy Taxi is a fast-paced, ad-supported racing game with old-school graphics and controls--and a surprising amount of quality content for a free game.

Whacksy Taxi looks superficially like an Out-Run-style racer, but your lateral movement is much more like Frogger: you're always driving forward, on an endlessly straight road, but you use left and right buttons to switch back and forth between three vertical lanes, dodging a maze of traffic that becomes more dense with every level. You also have buttons to jump cars (one or two at a time) and to brake (to give yourself some breathing room). Progression from level to level is like Out Run, as you try to beat a timer to cross successive finish lines, eventually advancing across seven stages from New York to "San Fran." The game mixes things up with special levels, like truck zones (trucks cannot be jumped) and high-speed zones, and occasional power-ups give you a boost (such as extra time or a temporary hover mode that carries you over obstacles). Whacksy Taxi has a variable-difficulty "arcade" mode with a jump meter (limiting your jumps) and a "classic" mode that gives you unlimited jumps.

Whacksy Taxi makes some missteps, including uninspired power-ups and the shady placement of its ads (which slightly overlap the game's pause button), but overall it's surprisingly well done--and long--for a free game. You can also pay to remove Whacksy Taxi's ads.

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