29th November 2010 - This, the second of a planned 24 Dreamcast ports for the modern console generation see’s gaming’s favourite cab drivers back in the action. Relive fond memories as you jump, dodge, drive and crash your way to victory in a classic revisited. But can this by-the-books port really bring back all the fun of the original Crazy Taxi?
The gameplay here is just as I fondly remember it from back in my childhood memories; you’re given control of the greatest Taxi in town and must race against the clock to earn as much cash as possible. And that’s it. Seriously. There really isn’t much to the game at all, and if it sounds overly simple, that’s because it is. But that’s why those who remember this once great title will come back for more this time around. You simply have to pick up passengers whenever possible and drive them to their destination as fast as you can to maximise your payout.
You have a few different main game modes that are all essentially the same thing with different clock options, so all up its pretty much just the one mode plus the quintessential ‘Stunt’ type mode that see’s you trying to complete a series of increasingly hard and skill-requiring maniacal driving mini-games. These are purely just for fun (and Achievements), and are actually quite enjoyable as long as you keep up to date the crazy driving abilities that require some major timing perfection courtesy of the rather strange gear-shifting mechanics that see’s two different buttons for shifting from drive to reverse, coupled with the single accelerate trigger. Its strangely hard to get used to, and if you don’t make use of the few unique driving stunts, can become a real pain as its much different from most other driving games you’ve played.
The only real upgrade from the original to this port in terms of gameplay is the use of a new leaderboards system, which is pretty much essential for any game these days. It would have been nice for some kind of significantly upgraded game mode to actually get more longevity out of the rather repetitive main game modes. But repetitive they may be, Crazy Taxi is still full of fun and very enjoyable to simply play over and over.
There are no new textures, models or really anything new in this department, but Crazy Taxi has been given a slight overhaul and upgrade of visuals to accompany the transition to HD. Its nothing really, but just makes the game look slightly better than it did back on the Dreamcast or Playstation.
The game world here is full of vibrant colour and the map itself is quite large and features many distinct roads and routes that you will be sure to learn to utilise to make the most out of scabbing money from passengers. Like I said earlier, it’s a by-the-books port so you really cant expect much from it in terms of graphical features.
I purchased Crazy Taxi without trying the trial version on XBLA. I know that probably isn’t usually a smart thing to do, but I simply knew I had to have it. Why, you may ask? Call me crazy (no pun intended), but it was actually because once upon a time, the original Crazy Taxi game broke new ground for me. Not with gameplay, but with sound. Or music, more specifically. It was the first time I realized I had a unconditional relationship with punk music. The epiphany came in the form of one of the gaming worlds all-time best soundtracks, full to the brim of classic Offspring and Bad Religion tracks. Its opened new doors for me, and partly formed who I am today…
But this time… This time, I booted up Crazy Taxi to find my beloved soundtrack of punk rock songs had been long forgotten and has since been replaced by a slew of shockingly annoying pop-punk rubbish who’s only use is the booklet you find inside the jewel CD case for when you find yourself running low on toilet paper during a bad hangover.
For me, a lot of the value of the game came from the rush of driving an un-seat belted standing passenger over an open draw bridge to Bad Religion music as your money counter quickly increases due to some groovy hang time. I was denied this pleasure with this port.
That’s not to say its without value though. Crazy Taxi still has its classic high-octane driving fun, but now, a decade on from the original release date, its easy to spot the flaws that are afoot. And is does have a lot. I think it’s a safe bet to say that the only gamers who will really take in the full extent of what Crazy Taxi has to offer are those who loved it way back on the classic consoles and want to relive some of those memories. As one of those gamers myself, I cant say for sure if it holds much on its own to people who never experienced it back in its hey day, but I am fairly certain it wouldn’t be much to behold.
It’s Crazy Taxi as some of us know it, just without arguably the greatest aspect of the game - the classic soundtrack. If you loved the original, you will surely still find some enjoyment in this standard port, but its easy to find fault now that we’ve lived through its legacy. The Simpsons rip-off took a lot of the glory away from the series and little people still know the hold it has on gaming history as one of the more unique and challenging racers of the past 20 years, but its all here now for us Dreamcast enthusiasts to relive. It didn’t start on the old ‘Cast but it certainly made its mark there.
AAG SCORE: 6/10
+ Still fun after all these years
+ Worthwhile Nostalgia
+ Challenging Stunt mode
- Metaphorically raped soundtrack
- Little-upgraded visuals
- No substantial new modes
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott