Crazy Taxi (Available on Dreamcast, GameCube, and PlayStation 2)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Arcade Racing
Dreamcast Release Date: January 24th, 2000\
PlayStation 2 Release Date: May 14th, 2001
GameCube Release Date: November 18th, 2001
Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Crazy Taxi T for teen because of animated violence and strong language. Honestly I’d let my kids play this one if only because it’s so cartoony and over the top. You have nothing to fear here.
Plays Like: Select your driver, pick-up a fare and get them to their destination as quickly as possible. Swerve in and out of on-coming traffic, drive underwater, do whatever it takes to save as much time as possible and you just might rake up enough points to become a CT legend.
Review Basis: While I used to play Crazy Taxi for hours on end back in 2000, for this retro review I simply played it for a few hours to remember all the key features. Sadly I didn’t have the time to invest in order to really highlight the advanced features for the video review.
Crazy Tax is the perfect example to show why SEGA was such a groundbreaking arcade maker. They were always able to take a relatively simple idea, in this case driving, and run wild with it. This is why there are legions of House of the Dead fans, why Virtua Fighter 2 was the top selling Saturn game of all time, and why every single Dreamcast owner should have a copy of Crazy Taxi in their collection. This game was not only one of the smash hits that helped define the Dreamcast itself, but SEGA as a whole.
Here’s the concept, you drive around an open city picking up fares, once you have one your objective is to drive them to their destination as quickly as possible. That’s it, that’s all. Sounds simple does it? Well, it is. It’s also some of the most fun you can possibly have with a modern videogame. There’s no story, there’s no long open-ended adventure. No, this is about pure arcade action. You see you can get your fares to their destinations any way you want, be it driving under water, through oncoming traffic, anything you can think of. In fact the more daring you are, and the quicker you get your clients to their desired location, the more money you earn and the greater your time bonus is. This is arcade driving at its absolute best.
+ Not only do you have your standard arcade-style gameplay mode, which forces you to constantly pick up new fares in order to keep time on your clock, but there are three, five, and ten minute alternatives which offer a somewhat more relaxed experience.
+ One of my favorite additions to this home version is the Dreamcast City, an entirely new city added for players to experience on top of the Arcade City. While not as refined as the Arcade City, it offers players something new, and remains a blast to play through.
+ Crazy Box mode allows players to learn the ropes, and master some of the more advanced techniques such as drifting. Think of this mode as a mission-based objective mode. It starts off easy enough, but increases in difficulty rather quickly.
+ While it features a simple concept, mastering the game takes dozens upon dozens of hours. You can perform a Crazy Dash, Drift, Back Dash, Back Drift, Stop, and much, much more. This is all done through the simple manipulation of the gas, brake, drive and reverse gear. It still boggles my mind just how complex you can get with Crazy Taxi if you invest enough time with it.
+ Outside of gameplay, the graphics hold up quite well. While the Arcade City is much more refined than the Dreamcast City, both look very nice and detailed. Sure everything might appear just a tad boxy by today’s standards, but they do the job just the same. There is some framerate drops every now and then, but for the most part the game is silky smooth rocking out 60 frames-per-second. Pop-in isn’t usually a problem, except for one major location in the new Dreamcast City.
+ The soundtrack features such excellent alternative rock artists such as Bad Religion and The Offspring, and for whatever reason fits the tone of the game perfectly.
– While the soundtrack rocks, the same can’t be said for the voice acting. Most pedestrians say the same few lines over and over again. It gets old fast, but thankfully the music is blaring so loudly that you can barely hear what anyone is saying.
– The on-screen directional arrow, which highlights where you should be heading takes a little getting used to. In the Arcade City it tells you which direction you should head, as in should you make a left or right turn to get to your destination, but in the Dreamcast City it only points to your overall objective. This means you can’t follow the arrow the same between the two cities and that can be extremely jarring.
SEGA might not be dead, but they’re no longer the same company in my eyes. Crazy Taxi shows them at their absolute best. They took such a ridiculously simple concept and created something so addictive and fun that 13 years after its release you can still lose yourself to it. That’s a true gaming classic, and while there are have been countless ports to other platforms, its original home is on the Dreamcast. You absolutely must buy this game if you own a Dreamcast, and if you don’t, buy it for whatever console you do have. It’s almost illegal how much fun Crazy Taxi is.
Final Score: 9/10