DEVELOPER: Hitmaker (port by Acclaim Studios Cheltenham)
RELEASE DATE: 05/17/01 (US), 06/01/01 (EU), 11/22/01 (JP)
ALSO ON: Arcade, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, iOS, Android, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Crazy Taxi embodies 1999 more than any other game. The laidback style, the punk soundtrack, the speed, the youthful recklessness that doesn’t actually hurt anyone. And, of course, the misguided optimism that every day is going to be a great day. It’s always sunny in Crazy Taxi‘s world.
In Crazy Taxi, you control one of four renegade drivers. Axel is the green-haired party boy who drives cabs to look cool and pick up chicks. B.D. Joe is the cheerful sort and loves making his passengers as happy as he is. Gena is defined as “cool and sexy” according to the manual, but I noticed more of a reluctant obligation to engage with others. Gus is the obligatory creepy older taxi driver; the one who should’ve gotten a different job when he was 25, but didn’t. The game tries to make him look cool, but… that’s not happening. I didn’t notice a control/speed difference between any of these four drivers, so I think it just depends on which personality you like the best.
The premise is as simple as it gets. Drive your cab into a colored circle where a person is waving at you. Pick them up. Speed as quickly as possible to Levis or Tower Records or some other incredibly 1990s location. If you want a bigger tip (and you do – gotta get that craaazy money), weave in between cars without getting hit, launch your car off of ramps, and all-around drive horribly. There are four maneuvers you can pull off – Crazy Dash, Crazy Drift, Crazy Back Dash, and Crazy Back Drift – that may also make you extra coin and will certainly help you reach your destination. Eventually, you’ll always run out of time, but the more people you pick up, the more money you get, and the better Class ranking you’ll receive in the end.
As with most arcade games, there’s not a lot of depth in Crazy Taxi. You gather passengers, drive fast, and drop them off until the time runs out or you grow bored of doing so. That’s truly all there is to it. Thankfully, Sega added an extra course and some mini-games to increase the replay value. The extra course is larger and a lot trickier to navigate, which adds some much needed challenge to the otherwise mindless back-and-forth. There’s also Crazy Box, a collection of challenges that teach you how to get good at the main game. While still not a ton of content, these extras will keep you playing for more than a few minutes at a time.
My only gripe with Crazy Taxi is how your car won’t accelerate quickly on anything other than pavement. Basically, if you come to a complete stop on stairs or grass or cobblestone and try to accelerate, your taxi takes 2-3 seconds seconds before it starts to accelerate. Now, it’s been some years since I played Crazy Taxi in the arcade and the Dreamcast, but I don’t remember either version having this trouble. Perhaps it’s the PS2 port or perhaps it’s my controller. I even tried both control types and that didn’t resolve the issue. The car controls great throughout the rest of the game, so it really is strange. Whatever the case, given how much this game emphasizes speed and getting from one place to another, not being able to move from stop-to-go in an instant on various types of ground is disappointing.
Crazy Taxi was a massive hit at the turn of the millennium, and it’s easy to see why. Speeding around the game’s high hills and tight turns is an absolute blast. It’s both the perfect arcade experience – easy to learn, fast-paced, addictive – and the perfect budget title for the home. I do wish there was a little more content (maybe one more course) and that acceleration issue is a real problem. Nevertheless, don’t let a couple quibbles stop you from enjoying one of Sega’s last great arcade titles.
Class B Grade
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