How do aliens get from planet to planet if they are unable to afford their own space shuttle? Or maybe they do not have their pilots license? Or maybe, just maybe, they are off to the cantina for a drink or two? So what is an alien to do for those desperate planet hopping moments? Call AlienCab of course. And that is where the player comes in, taking the part of cab control if you will. You need to control cabs from your home base to pick up on a series of colour coded plants over a single screen play area, making pickups and then guiding your cabs to the selected destination.
It all sounds simple enough when put like that and the game does start off pretty easy. That is for the first minute or two before things begin to get a little hectic. The gameplay in AlienCab resembles that of Flight control, another iPhone game that I recently reviewed here on the site, in that your cabs sit on your home base and then, as Aliens pop up on the coloured planets, you touch your cab and draw out his flight plan by dragging your finger across the screen to the planet with the waiting alien. They then automatically hop into your craft and give the destination by turning the cabs canopy the colour of the planet they wish to go to. Then you once again touch said cab and trace the route to your destination. Like I said, things begin at a relatively easy pace for the first two or three pickups, easily managed with a single cab in play. However, a few minutes into the game you soon need to bring a second cab into play because if you do not pick up a fare in time, its game over.
Another thing that could bring your game to an abrupt end is a collision between two of your cabs which does not sound too dangerous. But when you take into account that the ships are in continuous motion and at quite a fair speed, bouncing off the edge of the screen if they do not have a route planned. This means that if you are not using a cab, it’s always a good idea to have it return to base.
It’s not long before the game becomes even more hectic as you try to control two cabs at once and then only gets worse as you notice that waiting on one planet are two aliens standing side by side. Your panic sets in when you realise that you need to bring another cab into play big enough to carry two passengers. Keeping track of everything that’s going on definitely gives you a challenge. I am trying not to compare this game too much to the aforementioned Flight Control, but one thing letting AlienCab down is that you are continuously missing your targets when you trace your route with your finger. In Flight Control there is an audible click when you both touch your craft and again when you trace back to your destination letting you know that it is going where it is supposed to be going. In AlienCab however there is no notification like this and because of this on more than one occasion I have set a course only to have my cab bypass the pick up or drop off and continue on it’s merry way as I try to manage another cab. It does make the game even more challenging, knowing you need to be pretty precise when it comes to tracing your routes.
When it comes to the look of the game, it has to be said it looks quite nice with everything looking suitably B-movie sci-fi with planets, flying saucer cabs and, of course, stereotypical little aliens. To go with those looks, we have the sounds also perfectly suited for the game. Imagine in your mind the sound of an old black and white movie UFO and you get the sound of the ships in AlienCab. The background music matches it perfectly, although again, with games such as these, it has the ability to annoy over time. But it’s nothing a quick stop at the options menu cannot fix.
Overall the game is enjoyable enough, looking and sounding perfect for the game. It also offers up a difficult enough challenge, maybe a little too much of a challenge in some places as it does not take too long before things in game get hectic and busy, meaning you need to be concentrating completely on what is going on. So although it is a good game and worth checking out, there are other similar games out there that have a slight edge.
AlienCab, from Clickgamer, is available on the App Store for just Â£0.59