Have You Played… Ugh!?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

Long before Euro Truck Simulator 2, I fell in love with another game about a vehicle-based profession. Taxi driving. The cool console kids might have had Crazy Taxi, but years earlier I was playing with Chuck Rock’s cab-driving sibling, the preposterously titled Ugh!.

I love the idea of a serious taxi sim and, being me, I’ve thought long and hard about why that is. It all comes down to enjoying the worlds that are created for games but often being underwhelmed by the things I have to do within those worlds. Driving a taxi might be the ultimate fetch quest in a way, but it’s also a good excuse to explore, taking people from place to place and being at the mercy of the fare and the route rather than simply wandering lost or lingering around low-level areas to steel your fenders for the quests beyond.

Structurally, taxi driving is fantastic. And it adds flavour too, giving NPCs who have destinations they need to get to a reason to exist in the world. Oh, this guy in a suit wants to go to the club? He’s looking sharp and ready for the night! Oh, the same guy needs to go to the bank downtown? He’s going to work. And where am I picking them up? The origin of a route is an origin story too, given a little imagination.

Ugh! is a weird mix of 2d platformer and taxi game though. It’s not entirely successful, being more about avoiding traps and navigating fairly abstract scenery in a prehistoric helicopter than fleshing out a world through its fares. But back in the early nineties, when I played it, I hadn’t seen anything else like it. And if you want to see how it plays, you should take a look at the open source remake, Cave Express.

13 Comments

  1. Landiss says:

    Great game it was.

    “But back in the early nineties, when I played it, I hadn’t seen anything else like it”
    Was there anything like it any other time?

  2. RobbieTrout says:

    I never bought Ugh, but had a pretty extensive demo on an Amiga magazine demo disk. It was hard enough that I never finished the demo! But great fun.

  3. Curg says:

    I played it on the C64, wasn’t aware there was a MS-DOS version too!

  4. Zeewolf says:

    It is essentially a clone of Space Taxi, which by the way had an absolutely sublime Amiga remake.

    Edit: This was supposed to be a reply to Landiss.

  5. zipdrive says:

    I loved Ugh! (or is it UGH! ?)
    Played a lot of it as a kid, never managed to finish the game…too many rough landings.

    I remember it had co-op play which was a hoot.

    • ozo says:

      Loved the co-op mode. Never got too far with my buddy, but we kept playing the same first levels again and again.

  6. snake756 says:

    The better link thank the github page is here:
    link to caveproductions.org

  7. drucifer says:

    I thought this was the C64 game about a caveman on a unicycle. What was that called?

    • TheAngriestHobo says:

      You’re thinking of BC’s Quest for Tires, which was a fundamental part of my introduction to video games.

      • TechnoJellyfish says:

        You beat me to it! Didn’t expect anyone else to even be aware of it.

        As it happens, it was my very first encounter with a video game (at the ripe age of 3 or 4). Took me a decade and a half to (re-)discover the actual title …

  8. LaundroMat says:

    All my life I thought Ugh! was a WonderBoy clone (the title screens look similar). Guess I’m never too old to learn.

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    MOOncalF says:

    Damn fine game. Never could beat it, too tricky, still reacquired it many times over the years to try again.