Hey hey hey! It's time to make some ka-razy money! That's right everyone, Crazy Taxi, the wildest ride on the Sega Dreamcast, has been resurrected in the form of a downloadable release. As with Sonic Adventure's re-release, not a whole lot has changed, which will please the purists. There's no doubt that Crazy Taxi was crazy appealing back early last decade on the Dreamcast and in arcades, but with arcades an endangered species and the Dreamcast an extinct one, does Crazy Taxi have enough gas left in the tank to appeal to a new generation?
Crazy Taxi has, and always will be a game about speed and recklessness. For those unfamiliar with the title, very little setup is required on the part of the player. You choose which mode you want to drive in, Arcade or Original, choose a cab driver, and go. The game throws you right into the thick of things. You get a timer and thats about it. The narrator will quickly tell you your mission of making some "ka-razy money", the timer will start and you'll find yourself racing towards the prospective customers that are hailing you.
Once you pick them up, they'll let you know where you need to take them. Since the city can be a little confusing, especially in the beginning, you'll also receive an arrow that gives you turn-by-turn directions. Upon reaching your destination, you'll receive a base fare, which is based on how far the destination was from where you picked the customer up, as well as a "tip", which is really just a time bonus, based on how quickly you got them there. Along the way, you'll also receive little tips (or bonuses) for how exciting the ride is for the passenger. You'll accumulate for things like going airborne or narrowly missing oncoming traffic. This daredevil style of rewards system does wonders for increasing the excitement level of the game.
Once you complete your "shift", all of your earnings will be tallied up and you'll receive a license based on your performance. The higher your score, the higher your grade will be. You'll unlock achievements as you obtain higher grades, which, trust us, can be pretty tricky to get. Speaking of shifts, you'll also have the option as to how long you want yours to be. You can choose between the arcade style of shifts, which gives you time bonuses each time you pick up or successfully deliver a patron, or you can choose to work a hard-timed shift, which will expire the moment the timer runs out with no bonuses. Either way, you'll have plenty of rushing around to do.
In addition to the main modes, there's also a mode called "Crazy Box", which requires players to perform stunts in specialized courses in order to progress through the mode. The stunts range from performing long jumps using special moves in the car to drifting through various turns in order to make it to the goal in a short amount of time. The modes are fun, but are certainly a brief afterthought when compared to the other modes in the game.
So, now that we've covered the gist of the gameplay, the biggest question, as we mentioned earlier, is how does it hold up over a decade later? Well, the biggest factor is that the gameplay is still great. Crazy Taxi mastered the art of arcade-style driving long ago, and that is well-represented through this port. The sense of dangerous driving is still alive and well in this version, as well. The only thing that didn't really translate incredibly well, which was to be expected, was the presentation.
Originally, the game was consisting of beautifully designed levels inspired by southern California. Now, however, those levels are still intact, but they definitely look fairly dated.The textures don't look as smooth as we remember them due to the phenomenal graphics of today, but it definitely looks upgraded when you compare it side-by-side to the Dreamcast and arcade versions of the past. The only issue we had with the presentation is that there were apparently issues with the licensing of the Offspring tunes in the original, so they have been removed from this version of the game. This may seem like a minute detail, but for nostalgia junkies, they'll miss the chaotic environment created in part by "All I Want" being blasted in the background.
Crazy Taxi is the second release of Dreamcast classics on the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. Even though this game looks fairly dated, the gameplay still holds up as an excellent arcade driver. Throw in the fact that it has one of the more fun concepts of the past ten years, and you've got a great game to rediscover or, if you've missed the boat so far, you've got a new game to play during your time off this holiday season.