ScreenCritics Groot takes a look back at the Dreamcast’s popular arcade racer – Crazy Taxi. Do you have fond memories of this title?
In 1992 Sega released the first 3D racing game on the arcade titled Virtua Racing. Sega’s experimentation with 3D graphics was a revolution at the time; the company wanting to see if 3D graphics could appeal to the general public. The game was a huge draw and a massive success in the arcade – creating a legacy that went on to inspire other development studios to expand on those ideas – to push the boat out. As the racing genre found its feet and the end of the 1990’s approached; gamers were yearning for something different. In 1999, Hitmaker Studios decided to go in a wildly different direction – creating an arcade focused driving experience that not only felt unique but captured huge amounts of interest from gamers. That game was Crazy Taxi.
Kenji Kanno, the producer of Crazy Taxi, wanted to create a game that would provide a lot of fun in short sharp bursts. The idea was to create huge excitement that made gamers overlook the fairly shallow amount of content, It’s designed to perfectly fit within the arcade space, with a timer constantly ticking down and game play that is fast, furious and addictive. Eventually console power finally caught up to the point where the developers could deliver this experience, without compromise, on home consoles. Hitmaker Studio’s didn’t disappoint and were able to live up to the promise that they originally had in mind when they finally brought the game to Sega’s Dreamcast.
The game is very easy to pickup and even easier to get lost in. Since it’s mostly an arcade racer, it consists of multiple game modes. Most interesting is the time-trial and arcade mode. Before beginning the players are given an option to choose between four drivers, all with their respective 3. When the player picks his favorite – they are immediately thrusted in the driver’s seat and told to pick up pedestrians. When the customer enters the passenger seat, the driver is told to take the pedestrian to his desired location. After this task is completed the player is awarded money and is encouraged to repeat the process in order to gather as much cash as possible. This is one of the main reasons why the game was so addicting especially in the 90’s. The time-trial gives a time limit of 3, 5 or 10 minutes in which the player can freely explore. The arcade mode however doesn’t have that comfort, this separates the boys from the men. In this mode the character is given 60 seconds to complete their first customer, after which the game adds time and gives the player enough to continue the process. The fast-paced driving along with the scoring system made sure that people would replay this title countless times.
The visual style is nice for a racing genre, since it is considered to be an open-world racer. Hitmaker Studios released the game on the Sega NAOMI system which was also used for multiple titles branded by set company. There is only one map in the entire game, two if you own a console version, and both locals are set in the beautiful California. The local made you feel as it was alive, every place was brimming with people off all genders and races. The traffic is also worth mentioning as throughout the whole drive-through you will be 90% of the time on the road. There are all kinds of vehicles you can see while you drive by them, cars, buses, trucks all with their own 3. It’s lovely to see the development put so much detail and effort in on small product.
We have already mentioned how the game works and what the main objective is. However even though we are just a regular taxi driver that certainly isn’t the reason of why this title is appealing. That’s when the word “crazy” come in and reminds us that we aren’t any regular driver. The way in which we deliver bystanders to their respective position is insane. You will leap from platforms, drive at an incredible speed and , I guaranty, never use the breaks. In all that speed it is easy to lose track of ones location but at the same time, the chaotic nature of the driver provides an amazing feeling. The game awards the player for this reckless driving and gives more money if the passenger reaches his destination in the shortest time.
We came to the arguably greatest part of this title, its soundtrack. Famous punk bands The Offspring and Bad Religion were hired by Sega to provide the in-game music. Great songs like ” All I Want”, “Them And Us” and “Hear It” was a pure joy to listen while you wreak mayhem on countless obstacles. Crazy Taxi also isn’t shy when it comes to product placement, which was massively incorporated in the game. This in-game advertising saw Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, FILA and Tower Records. Developers stated in an interview that they added product placement in order to make the game feel as realistic as possible, and they sure nailed it.
After the positive reviews it got, the game was headed for multiple consoles, it’s most famous being that of the Sega Dreamcast. It was also released on the Gamecube, PlayStation 1 and 2 , but Sega’s console in the end dominated on top of all of these. Sega was impressed with the final product and started immediately to create a sequel, and was also planed to be adapted into a movie starring the famous Richard Donner, but in the end was dismissed. Hitmaker brought the title to newer audience with a 2007 port on the PSP along side Crazy Taxi 2 dubbed Crazy Taxi Fare Wars. It was also recently ported to the PC as a part of the Sega Dreamcast Collection. In the end Crazy Taxi stood the test of time and is still a joy to play even today, and I can say that when i picked it up it was a blast. Even though it lacks content in terms of gameplay the amount of fun that the player can have will overshadow that negative aspect.
Overview: Crazy Taxi was conceived with a simple idea that was mostly based on people having fun, and it didn’t let down. It is easily recognized even by non-gamers and they all describe it as enjoyable. The adrenaline that the player experience while driving at high-speed, while listening to an amazing soundtrack is defensively worth every coin if you prefer the arcade version. As for the console players we encourage you to load your own copy up, put on your sunglasses, turn on the volume up and go out there and get some “crazy money”.