Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom Review – Disagreeing To Agree

It is always exciting to tackle something as eccentric as Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom: a 3D platformer about a car, with timely memes, tank controls, extremely crude humor, psychedelic aesthetic, insane pace, and unconventional movement. Even I, someone who loves all things weird, had a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around it all. In the long run, however, this game proved to me that titles like it are the reason why I love video games.

An intense experience the whole way through, my eight hours with Yellow Taxi were almost overly stimulating. The blaring, intense music coupled with what can only be described as pulsating, blurry, retro environments emphasize the second-to-second style it brings forward. Everything moves on very short cycles as if to represent the wind-up nature of the player-controlled toy car—the world is seemingly moving along to the rhythm of its key. Yet, In a surprising twist, it quickly becomes apparent that stop-and-go is the main playstyle, rather than a frantic pursuit of unfathomable speed one would typically associate with cars.

A beach with what appear to be giant bombs with legs and big noses in the background
Merely a prelude to the overall insanity

So much of Yellow Taxi appears to purposely go against modern convenience. For starters: tank controls. Not unexpected considering you control a car, but given the genre of choice it is certainly a throwback to the PS1 days that many struggle to return to. Moving on: the jump. Since the button typically reserved for it is occupied with the action of speeding up, we instead get a novel approach to the topic: double-tapping the charge button to perform a flip.

Both the flip and the charge immediately stop all momentum, providing a second of clarity to examine the level in front of the player in all of its outlandish glory. This methodical approach of pushing back against the chaos allows for a rich rhythm to emerge, one that I find myself gravitating to so much these days. Losing all speed in a platformer feels like an inherent contradiction, but when done right it unlocks an almost nostalgic sense of imagination. The world becomes an opponent waiting to be outsmarted.

A screenshot of the taxi overlooking distant platforms
Distant platforms screaming for the player to find a way to reach them

Leaping off all things angled, you get to do exactly that. Though Yellow Taxi does have some unlocks, the core abilities provide for seemingly endless possibilities. Charging off ramps and performing a driving input at the right time provides a speed boost, so it quickly becomes apparent that things that taunt you with a “come back later” can be tackled then and there with a bit of creativity. A scan of the surrounding area to find a good starting point is all it takes to create a spark.

The game immediately guides players to experiment by putting these insane pillars off the beaten path in the very first level. The imposing gray structures made of ramps beg to be tested out, with coins, money bags, coffers, golden bunnies, or green gears sparkling in the distance. While the first few are optional, providing cosmetics or future bonus challenges, the last one is essential to progression, unlocking new levels. Couple all this with an occasional timed level forcing you into Crazy Taxi scenarios and you get some fantastically frantic moment-to-moment gameplay.

The taxi sporting a set of buff arms overlooking a set of platforming challenges set in a gym beneath them
Though you play as a car, the game is not afraid of tight vertical design

It never outright dictates what needs to be done. Some mechanics are only explained while exploring the hub: Morio’s Lab (there are a lot of these kinds of names, such as the villain being Alien Mosk, but also a slew of lawyer characters that remind you that this is a work of fiction and all that). There are also no invisible walls that I encountered that would ever stop me from going ham on the craziest leaps known to mankind (carkind?).

Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom uses the familiar and always attempts to twist it, maybe except the humor, which is about as outright as it gets. Vulgar imagery, puns galore, and an overabundance of references. Yet, this also goes against what people typically mention as “good” online, does it not? It would be hard to count just how many times I have seen people complain about referential humor. I would not say that it works every time here, I did end up skipping text towards the end, but sometimes you randomly stumble upon Van Biodiesel and all is good in the world.

Van Biodiesel questioning whether cars are being forced into a sentient existence as a form of a cruel joke.
Sometimes, taking in a situation like this is all you really need to snap back to reality

Stumbling upon a little, insane, hyper-specific hyperfixation is so easy in Yellow Taxi. It is so playful and so overwhelming while being so inviting and non-judgemental. Despite being seemingly designed as a counter-movement, the most you will lose out of failing is a couple of coins or a bit of time. Some collectibles are wide in the open while others feel like you’ve truly elevated your knowledge of the game to reach them. I just know this is one of those special experiences that I will think about for a very long time.

In its creative excess, it does falter a bit. Adding more of an indicator to the timing-based speed-up would save a good bit of time. There is a general sense of inconsistency on that as well as some slopes that, as mentioned previously, works wonders when they help pull off a cool trick, but also leads to mindless repeats while trying to pull off the perfect angle and perfect timing on some intended leaps. This is just something that I assume will get looked at as more players respond to where exactly they would like to see such changes. I could definitely also see some people thinking the visual effects are a bit much. The screen shake in the most mind-bending level had even me a bit dizzy.

Top-down view of the taxi inside a factory
Sections where you are prohibited from jumping are welcome change of pace I would be love to see incorporated into other levels more often

I would also love to see the game pull back from some gimmicks in favor of others. While replaying levels, it would often feel like the game falls back a bit too much on ramps and mid-air movement, whereas the on-ground movement is fairly limited. Some sections prohibit the use of jumping altogether, but I would have loved to see more of those sections interspersed into the regular, open levels to counter a bit of replay fatigue while hunting for the last few collectibles.

These are largely just quick thoughts in the middle of trying to complete this game, but overall, I am enamored with Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom. It puts forward the kind of energy I desperately need from time to time and recharges me as if I were a wind-up toy myself. Sometimes, you just need to feel a bit insane to know you are truly alive, and this is controlled insanity at its finest.

Mateusz played Yellow Taxi Goes Vroom on PC with a review code.

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