From the experienced casual game forces of Reflexive Entertainment (Simplz: Zoo) and Anawiki (Soccer Cup Solitaire) comes GabCab, a way-too-cute time management game starring the big-eyed taxi cab, Gabby. People need to get to where they want to go, and seeing as how you seem to be the best (and only) taxi in town, it's your job to drive them there! Answer the call of the customers and take them to their destinations, picking up tips along the way to spend in the game's well-stocked upgrade store.
GabCab dispenses with the traditional hand holding and lengthy tutorial sessions most casual games start with, meaning you get to jump right in the action. Each level is filled with locations connected by streets (and, in some areas, lifts and other modes of transportation). When someone needs a ride, he or she appears in front of a building with a thought bubble showing the destination. Click on the location to dispatch Gabby. Once the customer is in your car, click where they want to go and Gabby finds the most efficient way there. Different customers have different levels of patience/tip rewards, adding a little thought into when you pick up and drop off folks.
While puttering about the streets, you'll often find more customers calling for a cab. GabCab has a smart queue system that allows you to chain destinations together with a series of clicks. If you want to divert Gabby somewhere else immediately, just double click on the location and she changes direction right away, switching the priority of other stops automatically. You can even cancel stops in the queue, and customers close by will get higher priority. And don't forget to keep an eye on your gas tank!
The upgrade shop is where the game really shines, and there are four screens packed with bonuses to make your job a bit easier. Everything from cab upgrades to items that make customers happy (ice cream, anyone?) to one of our favorites, a radio advertisement that makes everyone change their destination to the same location! These additions grant GabCab several layers of strategy, making the challenge more than reflexive in nature.
Analysis: A no-frills game on the surface, GabCab takes a little time to settle in and show you what it's got. After half an hour or so, you begin to realize the depth of strategy the unassuming title offers, creating interesting efficiency puzzles in a variety of ways. Even though Gabby takes care of a lot of the prioritizing on her own, you're still left with a lot of important decisions on how to best manage her route.
GabCab scores impressively high on replayability. There are just under 100 levels to work through, divided between eight unique zones. You earn stars for your performance on each level, and earning those stars is what unlocks new areas. You can get up to four per stage in your initial run, but once you complete the game and go back, you can earn a fifth. Add to that a large variety of unlockable trophies and you've got plenty of reasons to keep coming back to this game.
If GabCab has any shortcomings, it's that it's very slow to start. You don't find anything really interesting until a few levels in, meaning many players will burn through their demo time without seeing how good the game really is. It's definitely one that's worth sticking with beyond the first handful of levels.
Simple but strategic, GabCab is an excellent time management offering from some folks who really know their casual games!