Crazier Than A New York Cabbie
Remember the days when arcade racers were just as common as having to sell a kidney to be able to afford a taxi? If we're on the same page, you probably remember games like San Francisco Rush and Crazy Taxi.
Both of these titles were novel driving games, but Crazy Taxi was arguably more innovative with its high-speed passenger unloading. In Crazy Taxi, your goal was to pick up as many passengers as you could within the time limit, and make sure they arrived at their destinations in a timely manner. For each passenger you dropped off on time, you'd receive points that would go towards your final score.
Part of the fun in Crazy Taxi was driving around its massive city, recognizing fine eateries such as Pizza Hut. Sure, you could call this in-game advertising, but this was one of the first driving games featuring a city that actually felt real.
This crazy driving title was so popular that it soon made its way to the Dreamcast. What better system to play it on than one that had similar hardware to Sega arcade cabinets.
Was the transition successful despite the lack of a steering wheel? For the most part, yes. Crazy Taxi for the Dreamcast gives you a great degree of control over its vehicles that rivals that of the best modern driving games. Within minutes, you'll find yourself maneuvering your taxi through bustling intersections and truck-crowded highways.
The controls are obviously much looser than what you'd experience with a driving sim, but it's perfect for the high speed deliveries you'll perform in Crazy Taxi. You'll need to take advantage of your car's maneuverability to swerve through traffic and launch over park hills that formerly weren't disturbed by yellow automobiles.
As I mentioned previously, the actual driving controls are great, but the various types of power slides are quite difficult to perform with the Dreamcast controller. Unfortunately, Crazy Taxi doesn't teach you how to perform these moves, so you'll have to peruse the instruction manual and experiment until you're able to execute them successfully. I couldn't figure out how to perform some of these time-saving moves, so I decided to focus on reaching my destinations by making use of shortcuts.
Crazy Taxi's massive arcade city makes a return in the Dreamcast version, so you'll be able to cruise through faux San Francisco streets with style, if you're a veteran. If you live on the wild side, you'll be able to get massive air while hurtling down San Fran's steep slopes, and if you're observant, you'll find plenty of ramps and shortcuts.
If you get bored of loading and unloading passengers in Crazy Taxi's mock San Fran, there's another city unique to the console game that's similar in style, but is also quite large. I had a great time jumping across a dock and driving up grassy hillsides during short five to ten minute bursts in this new city.
Unfortunately, the pick-up-and-play nature of Crazy Taxi is also one of its greatest downsides. There just isn't much to do other than try to get a high score within a three to ten minute period in one of two cities. After that, there's only a forgettable stunt mode. These factors make Crazy Taxi a great experience when you're hanging out with a buddy that doesn't normally play games, but it's unlikely that gaming enthusiasts will come back to it often.
Another of Crazy Taxi's flaws is its repetitious music. The game plays the same three or four songs over and over again, so unless you're the world's biggest Offspring fan, you'll probably become agitated quickly.
If you're not into standard driving games, Crazy Taxi just might interest you. Picking up passengers and getting them to their destination as quickly as possible is a blast, in part due to Crazy Taxi's excellent controls. Its two massive cities also impress with their plentiful shortcuts, jumps, and real-world fast food joints. This driving title may have a bit of slowdown and pop-up, but it still looks excellent considering it came out nearly a decade ago. For fans of arcade-style driving games who're looking for more than standard racing, Crazy Taxi is a worthy purchase.
Best Feature: Fun, stylish arcade racing for five to ten bucks, used
Worst Feature: It's a relatively short experience