It's insane! - Review By Fragmaster
These days, taxi drivers are stereotyped in the media as smelly, rude immigrants who speak twenty languages, none of them English. People don't seem to realize that there are plenty of psychotic, deranged cabbies out on the streets as well. These are disturbed people whose sole pleasure in life is scaring the living beejeezus out of their passengers, causing them to fill their pants multiple times and beg for the sweet mercy of god. These menaces to society never seem to get much time in the limelight, but thanks to Crazy Taxi, they now have the chance to strut their stuff.
Crazy Taxi is, of course, the Dreamcast port of the arcade quarter muncher. In a nutshell, the goal of the game is to pick up passengers and deliver them to their destinations as quickly as possible, all while pulling off "crazy" stunts to earn extra cash. Like the arcade games of yore, you're playing for high score. You only have a certain amount of time to "work" before your shift ends, so you've really got to keep things hopping if you wanna come out on top.
That style of gameplay worked out great in the arcades, but how does the home version translate? Well…
Sega is expecting Crazy Taxi to sell big and it's been hyped up quite a damn bit, so the big question is… does it suck? Nope. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and eye-wateringly addictive.
Crazy Taxi is one wild ride. Check out those poor saps running for cover.
The graphics, big surprise here, are awesome. You've seen the screenshots, and the game looks just as good as it did in the arcades. While the passengers you pick up and some of the interactive objects are a bit simple looking, the rest of the package looks better than any other racing game on the system.
Crazy Taxi has three main modes of play, arcade, original, and crazy box. Arcade mode is the same track featured in the arcade version, while original mode contains a whole brand new track. Actually, it's unfair to call them "tracks" due to their gigantic size. A more accurate term would be "environments." These environments are huge and wonderfully designed. You really feel like you have complete freedom and can go anywhere you want. There aren't really any dead ends. Plus, the two environments feel like part of a real city. Everything flows into each other in a way that makes sense, and the locales are diverse enough that you never get one section of the city confused with another. The inclusion of interactive objects such as phone booths, trains, trolleys, benches, people, and a whole bunch of other stuff you'd expect to see really adds to the atmosphere. There's nothing quite like knocking over a few phone booths, sending people scattering (no, you can't run over pedestrians), while whizzing through a sidewalk café, sending furniture flying through the air. Plus, there's plenty of ways to jump over buildings or find clever shortcuts, and part of the fun is discovering these places. You can even drive underwater to save time, if you don't feel like dealing with traffic. And there's plenty of traffic to deal with, this isn't one of those racing games where only a couple cars show up on the screen at once. There are even parking lots filled to the brim with cars.
Driving into oncoming traffic isn't exactly safe, but it may earn you some extra cash. Notice the Pizza Hut in the background.
Actual gameplay involves picking up passengers and taking them to their destinations. You can choose between one of four drivers, and each has their own unique car, abilities, and style. You cruise around the city looking for customers, who are highlighted with colored symbols over their heads. There are three different types of customers, red, yellow, and green. A customer with a red symbol only needs to travel a short distance and thus won't give you much money. Yellow customers need to travel a moderate distance, and green customers need to go a long way, which means you'll earn a hefty fare. To pick up a passenger, you just need to stop within their radius, which is highlighted by a colored circle. Once the passenger hops in your cab, they'll tell you where they need to go and a picture will pop up with that location, along with how far it is away from you. A green arrow at the top of the screen helps guide you to your destination, and you can press X at anytime to see how close you are. Intended destinations are surrounded by big green zones, which you can see from a distance. To drop off a passenger, just stop in the green zone and they'll pay you. The amount you get depends on how long it took you to get there. Speedy fares get you extra cash, normal fares get you an average amount, and slow fares get you less. There's a little countdown meter next to the customer's head, and if it reaches zero and you aren't incredibly close to your destination then they'll just jump out and pay you nothing. You can earn extra money from each fare by pulling off "crazy" tricks, such as weaving in and out of oncoming traffic, making huge jumps, or doing crazy combos. Oh, and if you haven't figured it out yet, there is no such thing as car damage in Crazy Taxi.
This dude needs to get to Tower Records. You'll also get the opportunity to pick up priests at KFC and drop them off at church or take old ladies down to the police station.
You pick up and drop off passengers until time runs out. You can play by arcade rules, or work for three, five, or ten minutes at a time. Once you're all done you'll go to the "mission briefing" screen to see how much you made and what kind of license grade you earned.
Drive too slow and your customers will jump ship, as Mrs. Funnyhat demonstrates here.
The control is dead on. The physics are pretty unreal, but if they were realistic then you wouldn't be able to jump over a two-story building, would you? One cool thing about Crazy Taxi is that you can pick it up and play right away, but you'll need to practice and learn how to do the tricks, dashes, drifts, and zigzags if you want to pass all the mini-games and really pull in the big bucks. In other words, it'll take you a pretty long time to truly master the art of driving like a nutball.
Pacing usually isn't much of a factor in most games, but Crazy Taxi's frantic and frenzied speed keeps the game interesting and intense. You've got to keep moving, as there's no time to dawdle or sight-see. A couple seconds can cost hundreds of dollars.
Crazy box mode contains a variety of mini-games (there's supposed to be only nine but right now we've unlocked four more for a total of thirteen). Most of these are pretty damn challenging and innovative. Solving them all will keep you busy for a while, and teach you how to do all the advanced cool maneuvers. Mini-games range from trying to jump a long distance, picking up and delivering a bunch of passengers within a time limit, popping balloons with your taxi, or racing through a packed, cramped, parking garage to the goal.
One of the goofier mini-games involves popping twenty balloons in forty seconds.
The sound effects are well produced and there's a whole bunch of wisecracks to go around. The music mostly consists of licensed tracks from Offspring and Bad Religion. These really tend to get annoying after awhile, but luckily, you can lower the music volume or just shut them off completely. The interface is straight-forward and clean, and you can change time settings, time difficulty, traffic difficulty, audio settings and controller settings in the options section. The records section is also surprisingly extensive.
While the graphics look great, there are some technical problems. There's a decent amount of background pop-in, but that's not really unusual for a game such as this and doesn't affect the gameplay. The clipping problems and the frame rate drops do, though. While the frame rate remains relatively consistent and speedy, it will drop noticeably if you're in a large area with lots of traffic. As for the clipping, you'll sometimes see your customers run through your cab. You'll also occasionally partially clip through a building. It isn't too bad overall, but I did run into one instance where I got stuck in a tree (at least I think it was a tree) after a huge jump and was stuck inside, trapped in darkness and unable to move. I couldn't manage to replicate this, so it was probably just a fluke.
The announcer voice sounds like a bad Wolfman Jack impersonator, and while the remarks cabbies and their rides make are funny at first, they get repetitive and old after awhile. Some more voice clips would have been nice.
Potential customers have these goofy looking dollar sign icons over their heads.
The green arrow isn't always exactly accurate, but it always gives you a general idea of where you need to go.
Finally, since Crazy Taxi is an arcade game, there isn't a huge amount of depth. You play for high score, and that's about it. A quest mode or something might have been a cool addition. And no, there isn't any sort of multiplayer mode whatsoever. The mini-games help add to the replay value, but once you solve them all there's not much reason to play them again, and some of them look a little sloppy and "tacked on."
The Final Word
A must see. Crazy Taxi's fast-paced, go anywhere, do anything gameplay and unconventional concept make it one of the best games on the Dreamcast. Only the possible lack of replay value and minor graphical and audio glitches keep it from scoring higher. You'd have to be crazy to pass this one up.
Highs: Great graphics, gameplay, control. Tons of fun.
Lows: Some graphical glitches and audio annoyances, questionable depth.
Other: 1 player, VMU Compatible (23 Blocks), Race Controller Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
Visit this Game's Dreamcast Database Entry
Comments on this review? Mail Feedback.