Fare Play: Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast

by theleighreview

“Hey hey hey, it’s time to make some craaazzy money – are ya ready? Here we go!”

Crazy Taxi

Reviewed by Matt Keleher

Ever sat in gridlocked traffic, watching the sapped faces of commuters slumped over the wheel?  You feel a burst of elation as the car in front begins to move, which turns to dejection as you meet the glare of its brake light just five yards on…

Get me to the church on time: Passengers don't appreciate waiting around and will hop out of the cab without paying if the time runs out

Get me to the church on time: Passengers don’t appreciate waiting around and will hop out of the cab without paying if the time runs out

Then, glancing over your shoulder, you plot in your mind’s eye the fast, exhilarating shortcuts you’d take if exempt from the Highway Code; sharp right, into the multi-storey, exit at the third floor into the park, tear-arse it downhill for a bit, (while weaving between two-way traffic) then home!

Isn’t it lucky that there’s a way to keep your license while living these dreams vicariously? Thank the stars for Crazy Taxi!

For those who haven’t played it, you assume the role of a cabby in a teeming city (a hybrid of California and San Francisco) whose goal is to ferry passengers from A to B, earning as much cash as they can before time runs out. Gameplay is intuitive from the get-go; while you’ll pick it up quickly, it takes time to master – you’ll discover are numerous shortcuts, jumps and hidden passengers that will save you those precious seconds.

There are two maps to choose from: Arcade (The map featured on the original arcade machine) and Original; (A ‘new’ map for the console port) for me the former is the most fun, as there’s a greater sense of speed with more scope to try out drifts and jumps.

Crazy Taxi has numerous mini-games including this bowling challenge; the key is to execute a perfect drift to clear each set of pins...but it ain't as easy as it looks!

Crazy Taxi has numerous mini-games including this bowling challenge; the key is to execute a perfect drift to clear each set of pins…but it ain’t as easy as it looks!

The game is filled with a host of weird and wonderful passengers including a mohawked punk rockers, spirited octogenarian, vacuous valley girl and a preacher never seen without the good book in his hand; there’s even a lone passenger you can collect underwater!

Upon its console release in early 2000, critics and gamers alike praised Crazy Taxi for its smooth graphics and pacey gameplay. The game has a distinctive look with its deep blue skies and eternally sun soaked pavements; a number of real-life high street stores are featured, (including Levi’s, KFC and the now defunct Tower Records) which bring a sense of realism in an otherwise madcap game.

You’ll notice a number of charming visual touches – pass the tennis court and you’ll see two players enjoying a game, watch the helicopter take flight as you leave the helipad or see a phone booth crumple like a paper cup as you hit at 100 miles an hour.

As you might expect, there’s a suitably high-energy soundtrack to complement the action; the buzz-saw guitars of The Offspring and Bad Religion fit the bill perfectly.

There are also mini-games, which allow you to hone your driving skills in a series of quirky challenges including balloon popping, high jumps and even bowling!  Crazy Taxi is arcade fun at its purest and perfect for half-hour bursts; it’s a game you’ll pick up time and time again for your fix of adrenaline-fuelled fun.

The equally fun Crazy Taxi 2, which brought the action to New York  hit the shelves the following year brought the action to New York, but flew under the radar for many players with a Dreamcast-exclusive release.

Watch the game in action here:

Have you played this game? Don’t be coy, share your thoughts in the comments box…

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