Crazy Taxi (XBLA, PSN) Review
The original Crazy Taxi was released in arcades in 1999, and a Dreamcast port followed shortly. It would become many Dreamcast owners’ favorite games, and one of the best arcade ports that the system had. While having a soundtrack consisting of only two bands and featuring blatant in-game advertising would normally be negative, it somehow became part of Crazy Taxi’s charm and helped it become a Sega All Star, Greatest Hits and Player’s Choice title on the Dreamcast, Playstation 2 and Gamecube, respectively. Ten years later, Sega has rereleased the game as part of their Dreamcast classics collection, and the results are mixed.
For those who missed out on the original offering, Crazy Taxi has you choosing one of four eccentric cabbies and racing against time to earn as much money as possible. You earn money by picking up passengers, each of whom have a circle around them to give you an estimate of the distance and cash reward (red rings are short distances while green means longer drives), and dropping them off at their destination as quickly as possible. You earn more money by doing various tricks, which range from Crazy Drifts and Crazy Boosts, which do what their name suggests. Passengers also give more money for making large jumps and narrowly avoiding traffic, meaning you got some risk-taking fares.
Four inches away from that car? $15 tip!
These moves can be a bit tricky to learn at first, but luckily you can hone your skills in Crazy Box mode, which has you completing challenges that utilize the game’s various tricks. While most of these are relatively easy, there are still some challenges that are unbelievably frustrating, just like they were 10 years ago. Still, it’s extremely satisfying to complete one that you’re stuck on, and being able to use the stuff you learned in the main game is rewarding.
Crazy Taxi features two separate locations to choose from – the arcade level and the original level, made for the initial Dreamcast port. While the original is still my favorite, I have grown quite fondly of both levels in this remake. Arcade is a bit more varied in its locations and is the more challenging of the two, though both are huge and you can play plenty of games without discovering the entire map. You even have an opportunity to drive your passengers through a mall, while somehow getting paid more for this act. It was simpler times back then. Each map can be played under five and 10 minute time limits, or the original arcade mode, which grants you extra time for each successful fare. After each run, you’re money is totaled up and a rank is given.
Unfortunately, not all is well with this port. Despite Sega smoothing some things out so it looks better on modern TVs, it doesn’t necessarily look all that great either. It’s not a full-blown HD port, so fans looking for a glossy makeover are going to be disappointed. Luckily, you’re able to switch to the original aspect, which looks a lot better than widescreen. This is to be expected with a 10 year old game, however, and it really shouldn’t hinder anyone’s purchase.
And the fact you run over giant bowling pins should motivate your purchase
What might hinder someone’s purchase, however, are the two things they took out of the game – real world locations and the original soundtrack. The original Dreamcast version had you dropping off passengers at places like KFC and Tower Records, which some may look at as advertising – but in Crazy Taxi it made sense. All of these are taken out and given generic names, and as such the city doesn’t feel as alive as it once did. If you’ve never played the original, this shouldn’t sway your decision one way or the other, but fans of the original, such as myself, are prone to disappointment. What really upset me was that they replaced the Bad Religion and Offspring songs. Sure, there was only a handful and it got a bit repetitive, but to me that was part of the Crazy Taxi charm. I’ve had some friends of mine play this port and the first thing they asked me is what happened to the music. The game does supplement the loss with new tracks that do a good enough job fitting the atmosphere, but it still feels wrong.
-Just as fun and addicting as it was ten years ago
-Added leaderboards help fuel challenges among friends
-No Bad Religion and Offspring
-No real-world locations
-Did little to make the game look more modern
Crazy Taxi on XBLA and PSN is a hard sell. At its core, it’s a great arcade experience that stands out amongst the competition, even a decade later. The characters, passengers, and driving are all deserving of the game’s “Crazy” moniker and create a one of a kind world. Unfortunately, a large part of the game’s charm is gone without the original soundtrack and real world locations. For someone new to the series, this is definitely worth checking out as you won’t notice these exclusions and they really do little to alter the actual gameplay, but for diehards of the original it may just completely ruin the experience. I’m somewhere in between, myself.