Welcome to California, the sky is blue, the palm trees are tall and the jumps are high. Crazy Taxi is a race against the clock driving game where you play as one of the only liveries in a town with no police. Why do I mention this? Because you’ll be the one almost sideswiping traffic for tips, drifting for tips and of course catching bodacious air for you guessed it, tips. I think its nostalgia and style that will overpower players into enjoying this brief arcade game.
Its all about that quick arcade fun rather than realism. Ramming other vehicles makes no difference, they’ll fly backward or flip over in comical fashion. Land in water? That’s fine just keep right on driving. Nothing can stop you except buildings. Pedestrians will leap out of the way, boxes and hot dog vendors will tumble in front of you.
There are several different areas rich neighborhoods, parking garage shortcuts, beaches, parks and even highways that are a mistake to turn on. The two cities feel alive with plenty of pedestrians. You’ll see other vehicles, trolly cars and even passenger trains as you’re driving, but none as cool as your selection of four vehicles to start with. The other motorists are abundant, and overtaking them without hitting them grants you a bigger tip when you drop off your fare. It takes far more skill to dodge than than it does to hit them.
Crazy Taxi takes what used to be a typical arcade driving game where you drive on several courses from point A to point B and made the checkpoints dynamic rather than static finish lines.Instead of having a blonde in your passenger seat like Outrun, you have a variety of passengers. Funky ladies, men with pink Mohawks and even mundane passengers such as priests and people that blend in with a crowd. The cabs are all convertibles so you’ll get to see how animated they get when they cheer on your insanity. Wrong lane? Yeah woo hoo! Flying over big semmi trucks? Do it!
The game is beautiful with bright colors and big sounds. They have an announcer to lure you in to play, well that is if you were in an arcade. He is available in the menus saying things like “car-ay-zy Taxi,” “give it another go,” and “maybe next time.”
Rather than selecting a cab based on its stats, you see the driver. You have a green haired Axel, a big smiling B.D. Joe, a leopard print top Gena and a more typical cab driver in a Hawaiian shirt named Gus. Do they play any different? The game never lets you know, but in the challenge box, you can see their stats. No not the vehicle stats, the driver stats such as age, height, weight and blood type. Maybe its all a subtle way of saying the lightest driver is faster, the heaviest driver has the best turning and the alphabetically first blood type can drift the best..Its a game that oozes style, fun, flair and attitude over substance and depth.
While Crazy Taxi is a game born in the arcade, its one of the games in Sega’s Dreamcast collection on several other consoles. This version comes with the arcade city, the original city, which was unique to Dreamcast and the crazy box challenges.
Even with a home version, it seems like a game better suited for the arcades. There’s just not much here. The two cities might be large, but your play time isn’t. You play in small chunks of time across a city, either arcade rules that grant you additional time or a flat three, five or ten minutes. Even the nine challenge boxes are over in a flash. I prefer a game to have more meat to it, but yes this is an arcade game, but its on a platform with deeper driving games and racers.
In the main game, your goal is simple, pick up passengers that have an icon over their head and follow the arrow to their destination. When you get close enough, you’ll see a bright green drop point that illuminates a large section of sidewalk, allowing you to drift and skid to a stop.
Each passenger has a different colored icon. Green means you’ll need to go a long distance and get a lot of time to do it. Orange and yellow mean less distance and less time, while red means the shortest distance and time. There is an art to stopping close to them, because you’ll have to wait for them to run to your cab before they hop in. The passengers also have rings around them, but you can still stop outside the ring to activate them.
When a passenger gets in, he or she will tell you their destination, which shows up as a photo. In true late 90s fashion, you get a giant arrow at the top of your screen, but there is no easy to use GPS. Part of the challenge is finding your own path and memorizing the city layouts.
With a passenger in your car, you see how much their fare is. Well that’s if you make it on time. If time expires, they’ll jump out of your cab, but they’ll do it with style. Even when they leave your cab and pay you, they do some sort of funky dismount followed with a hand slap to give you the cash. Of course they need to give you the cash to give you extra time in arcade rules. I’ve had a few times where they jump out of my cab, but before they give me the money and time, my time expires.
As for the controls, Crazy Taxi uses a keyboard and works quite well with a 360 controller. The driving takes some getting used to, but its more realistic than other games. You have an accelerator and a brake, but you also have drive and reverse. So to drive backward, you need throw it in reverse rather than hitting the brake until you stop and the backing up. The Crazy Taxi way seems needlessly complicated, why use four buttons when all you need are two? The reverse and drive system come into play with the game’s main two tricks, drifting and dashing.
In the crazy box, the game gives you vague advice on how to perform both of them. Crazy drift’s advice is to shift into reverse, then shift into drive, but how you really do it is hold drive and reverse while making a sharp turn. This will skid your car sideways. The crazy dash continues to elude me, because the game’s advice is to let off the accelerator, shift into drive and then hit the accelerator again. I’ve played for two hours and if I’ve done the crazy dash, I haven’t noticed.
As for the crazy box challenges themselves, its just quick fluff to let you know there are driving tricks. You’ll be racing down a ramp, then crazy dashing off of it. You’ll do other things like ram twenty balloons to pop them. Use ramps to jump across gaps to deliver your passenger before time runs out.
The game lets you keep profile information for up to four people, that way you already have your initials registered. There are no online leader boards, just your own personal bests.
Since it has support for 360 controllers it could have made use of camera controls. There are plenty of times when I’ve rammed a vehicle, when going up or downhill because my own cab obscured my vision. This is one of the few driving games with no ability to change camera angles.
At the end of each session, you’re graded and ranked. Another pet peeve of mine is after every game, it kicks you back to the main menu rather than asking if you’d like to play again. Perhaps the developers felt you’d want to quit the game after a quick joy ride. The menu also forces you to hit D rather than enter to confirm a menu item. Well that is if you’re using a keyboard. While that might be a nitpick, its difficult to find faults in such a bare bones game.
With the review over, Crazy Taxi is just a quick game. On paper, it all seems fantastic. There’s nothing wrong with the game, I need something more than trying to get a high score. The taxi mini game in Grand Theft Auto games are much deeper than this and I’d rather go play that instead. If you’re in an arcade, this is still a gem among shallow, fun driving games.