Review by The President

"A great game that proves that Arcade type games can still rock."

When Sega introduced the Naomi hardware, it gave then the standard architecture for their Dreamcast. They began pumping out games at a feverish pace, with each of their small design studios making hits. Hitmaker, formally AM3, came up with a arcade driving game unlike a game before it: Crazy Taxi, where your mission is to be the best damn taxi driver you could be in a pretty good re-creation of San Francisco. The game was a hit in the arcades, and it was ported to Dreamcast in early 2000. The game was a hit, and it became one of the DC’s best sellers. However, as everyone knows, the Dreamcast began to sink, and Crazy Taxi began to fall into a endless spiral of sloppy ports, bad sequels, and overall boredom of the series. Quite possibly the best racing game that Sega has ever made (yes, I’m looking at you, Daytona USA fanboy.) Let’s take a look bad on a great game that people still love today, Crazy Taxi.

You play as one person (Axel, BD Joe, Gena, or Gus, who each have their own different cars and effected attributes) Who tries to get as much money as possible from cab fares in the certain time limit. You get more time when you pick up a fare, or drop off a fare the fastest you can go. You drive around the replicated city of San Francisco (though they don’t tell you that it is) And in the home version, a entire new city. Not really a story, but hey, you don’t need one when you end up having this much fun in a short amount of time.

Graphics: 7
The Dreamcast version had been spruced up a little bit. The Grass around the parks and the trees seem to have more volume to them compared to the flatness of the arcade version. The slowdown which was not that common, but still a nuisance, has been almost wiped out for most of the arcade town, but still in some places (like then doing a few of the more car and human populated area jumps) the game’s frame rate slows down and doesn’t get back up to speed until you stop or more far enough from the area. Pop-up does appear, and sometimes can be frustrating as you though you had a clear way but end up smashing into a truck, getting rid of your Crazy Through, but only in the long stretches, which do not appear frequently. In the game’s Crazy Box, each level looks fine, but a little rough around the edges. Since the Dreamcast was really just Naomi minus some RAM, it did not lose much compared to it’s arcade counterpart, and actually improves on the looks.

Gameplay: 8
This is where the Crazy Taxi formula makes it’s magic. If you choose Arcade or Original, you begin in one select place where you can take off anywhere from the city. The city is a very large and expansive place. Each driver has a different vehicle (unless you unlock the special one) and all of them have their strengths and weaknesses, and they can be exploited. Axel is the average character, BD Joe is the fastest and lightest, but can’t pass through thin strips because of his wide car, Gena also seems to be average except for (at least for me) her ability to do better drifts, and Gus is slow and weighs the most, but is the smallest. After picking up a fare, you must bring that person to their destination. How far away that location is, the more time you get to get that person there. Over the fare’s head, there is a timer, saying how much time you have left. If you get them there while the numbers are green, you get four extra seconds. If the timer is in yellow, only two seconds, and if it’s in red, no extra seconds. You press the R trigger to move, and the A and B buttons switch gears into forward and reverse. This can prove to be a little strange at first, but it becomes second nature after a while.
Also, special “car moves” can be done by switching gears and braking. Perform a Crazy Boost by switching from reverse to forward and pressing the accelerator in a row. A Crazy Drift is done by moving the analog stick and braking. Crazy Through is done by weaving in-between cars. The drift and through net you combos, which add to your fare, which gets added up for a final score once you’re done. These scores give you a license (or varying grade ranks) and put you up on the high score list, like in the arcade. You can submit those scores to a system profile (many different initials can be used to make a system profile) and then shown in the high scores menu.
The Original city for the home release is good, but nothing can show up the Crazy Box, a set of challenges which unlock all the little extras that you can use in the main game. Some of the Crazy Box challenges are damn hard (I found the bowling one almost impossible) and some can be easy (if you master drift and boost.) This adds the much seeked for replay in Crazy Taxi.

Sound: 9
Crazy Taxi has the sounds of The Offspring and Bad Religion, so it’s a big plus by me. Every time I hear All I Want, it reminds me of Crazy Taxi. It takes around 10 minutes for the game to go through every song, so the songs are not that long. If you play this game for a long time, the songs do begin to get repetitive, and a few people may be turned off the hard rock/punk style, but it suits me just fine. Each person only has one line for each place that you want to take them too, so if you hate repetition, you will not like it. There are about 15 different pedestrians, only chooses one of two different stops (it depends if you’re in arcade of original) so “Take me to the KFC” with become the staple of high grammar in this game. Each cabbie says a few lines “Shut Up and move your butt” being the most memorable.

Fun Factor: 7
The only thing that actually hinders the game is that it’s replay. Once you know the cities by heart, and finished the crazy box, trying to get higher and higher scores becomes boring and at times, tiring. If Hitmaker was able to come up with new modes, then maybe this series can pull itself back up. But after 2 shoddy Acclaim ports, a BAD GBA game, a ok sequel on Dreamcast and a shoddy one on Xbox, it looks like Crazy Taxi may be done for. But we will remember.

Graphics: 7
Gameplay: 9
Sound: 9
Fun Factor: 9

Reviewer’s Score: 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 09/22/03

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