With the exception of fighting games and the occasional sports title most arcade games are not built to be a lasting experience. Most offer quick thrills to occupy your time for a few minutes in between activities and while fun it becomes a hard sell when ported to a home console. Then there are games like Crazy Taxi that transcend that and are infinitely replayable by sheer virtue of its gameplay. Crazy Taxi is not only one of the brightest in the Dreamcast lineup (and by extension PS2 & GameCube) but is also just an all-around excellent game as well. Simple yet incredibly deep, most games wish they were a fraction as fun as CT is in small doses or even extended sessions.
Crazy Taxi certainly lives up to its title. The only goal in the game is to get your passengers to their destination by any means necessary and it doesn’t matter how much death and destruction you cause in your wake. Okay I’m exaggerating with that last bit but the fact that you can ram straight into a bus at full blast and only lose a little bit of speed while that bus has gone on to cause a massive pileup on the freeway means somebody has to have died. But that doesn’t matter. Getting your fares to their stop in as little time as possible increases your monetary reward and extra time depending on the mode. Shortcuts, makeshift detours, cutting off cars in traffic, hell even a quick trip under water, all of this is encouraged by the game and psychotic people who really need to get to KFC ASAP.
You could play Crazy Taxi as straightforward as possible but there is plenty of depth to be found if you dig a little deeper. Learning the layout of the city is one but also paying attention to the colored markers that are a giveaway as to the distance you’ll need to travel. Min/Maxing is necessary to make the most money possible in the time allotted; it’s very easy to waste all of your time busing two fares and only earning a pittance to show for it. Weaving through traffic, sliding around corners, and hopping off ramps will earn small bonuses and even something as simple as how you come to a stop can earn a nice chunk of change on top of your guaranteed fee.
There are a number of advanced techniques to learn and master. The crazy dash allows you to go from zero to 60 (so to speak) in a second. The crazy stop is simple but effective in shaving a few seconds off dropping off customers. The crazy drift once mastered will spin the car and begin a combo racking up extra tips the longer you keep it going. You can take the crazy dash even further and perform a limit cut which sends you rocketing even faster. Most of these are incredibly difficult to pull off but if you can apply them during the main game will make you an expert. These techniques are really used in the exclusive crazy box added to the game.
Aside from playing by arcade rules (where extra time is gained by dropping off customers as fast as possible) there are three, five, and ten minute modes for quick bursts that are excellent for multiplayer sessions. Original mode is a smaller, compact version of the arcade city that has been remixed and can be played using the same modes. The breadth of the game’s extra content comes from the Crazy Box, a pyramid style selection of 16 minigames that test your skill at the game’s advanced techniques. While short they are extremely fun and difficult and add longevity to the game, not that it needs it.
If there is one criticism that is true about the game it’s that it is light on content. The game definitely has that unspeakable “it” factor that drives you to play one more game only to realize that a few hours have passed. But at the end of the day there is still just the one city that while large, does grow old after a bit. As much as I like the Crazy Box it is strictly for the more dedicated players as the techniques needed to succeed are out of the reach of the casual gamer. It wasn’t an issue for me as the core gameplay is so strong but is something I feel the average gamer will take note of.
You can’t talk about Crazy Taxi without mentioning its rock influenced soundtrack. The selection of songs chosen for the game match the madcap antics so perfectly it is unbelievable. I’m not a fan of rock music but even I found myself rocking out to the sounds of the Offspring and Bad Religion. At least initially. As great as the soundtrack is you will come to hate it due to its repetition. The overall variety is very small and certain tunes repeat incessantly; the Offspring’s “All I Want” drives me into an uncontrollable rage from its first few notes because it is really overplayed here. There’s a ton of funny chatter from customers and occasionally your chosen driver but it won’t keep you from turning the volume down to avoid hearing the repetitive soundtrack unfortunately.
I’ve been playing Crazy Taxi for close to 14 years now and I’m still not tired of it. It has the same pick up and play appeal of Tony Hawk and is simply timeless. This is one of Sega’s greatest games and a jewel in the Dreamcast library. Don’t pass this up wherever you play it.