Crazy Taxi (Xbox Live Arcade) Review

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Date Released: November 24, 2010
Date Reviewed: December 13, 2010
Players: 1 Player
Length: 3 to 10 (Crazy) Minutes
Replayability: Incredible

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Introduction

Crazy Taxi is the 1999 arcade game on the NAOMI board that was later ported to numerous platforms based on it’s popularity. The Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network versions are ports of the PC version that was co-developed by now defunct Acclaim. It is the second of SEGA’s Dreamcast Revival downloadable re-release line of games.


(This video is the Dreamcast version with the original soundtrack)

Concept

Crazy Taxi is an arcade game about taxi driving, but is designed with a unique juvenile mindset. You play as your choice of a taxi driver who has to pick up random civilians and take them to the destination they desire within a set time limit. The twist is that the player has the choice to be as reckless as they want, which is encouraged by tips from the passenger.

Story

Being an arcade title, Crazy Taxi is noticeably light on story. Each character within the game does not have any specific goals outside of getting to their requested location, but instead personalities. All of the characters are based on silly over-exaggerated stereotypes that are not done in a way that could be seen as offensive. No one in particular is especially memorable, but they all are lovable and funny in their own way.

In these digital re-releases of the game, none of the characters profiles are even available, but it does not effect the game as it is usually clear what they are like based on how they look. The man with the roses is madly in love, the guy with the mohawk needs to get to a concert, et cetera.

Gameplay

When the main portion of the game starts, the player has to find a person to take to a location they request. Each potential passenger (which can be found everywhere from street corners, to the top of buildings to even under the ocean) has a circle over their head that represents how far they need to go, red being the closest and green being the furthest with yellow being somewhere in between. Bringing a person to their desired location faster than expected will give you more money as well as extend your time, but not getting there at all will make the passenger jump out with their money, even if it is an elderly man or pregnant woman.

Throughout the game, an arrow on the top of the screen points you in the direction you need to go. The arrow does not show how to get there exactly, but instead follows the roads you need to take to get there. With this, the player is encouraged to be even more creative by crashing through fields, parks and buildings. Depending on how far each location is from where you have to start, you will be awarded more money for completing the route at all.

To encourage the player to be even more reckless, passengers will give out tips on the tricks you pull off. If you do a set of tricks in a row, a tip combination will start and start building up faster until you crash into something or slow down too much. Some of the tricks are from jumping off of ramps, drifting or from even driving on the wrong side of the road between cars.

The player can save time by parking to drop off one person on the exact same spot another person waits, but if you drive up to them too fast they will get scared and jump out of the way. This could potentially waste many seconds as time still counts down while people come to your taxi. Depending on the player’s skill and selection of who they pick up, it is possible to extend the game’s length well over the full minute the basic arcade settings give you, making the replay incentives incredibly high, even if the player is not interested in besting their scores or beating their friends in the new online leaderboards.

The player also has a choice between a 3, 5 or 10 minute play sessions where no time extensions are awarded. These modes are good for practicing routes and general exploration for both of the main gameplay levels. There are also extra settings that can lower and increase the amount of traffic you come across as well as how much time you are given to play in the arcade mode, making the game accessible to almost anyone.

One of the most loved features of the home console releases is the ‘Crazy Box’ mode that is a set of minigames with different goals. Some are unique variations on dropping off customers, and some are challenges such as how far the player can drive off of a ramp or how many balloons the player can hit before the timer runs out. All of these are fun in their own way, but the difficulty for them is very bizarre, with some being far too easy and others being incredibly challenging — Requiring the average player to retry them dozens of times.

Controls

Crazy Taxi controls very similarly to simplistic racing games, even if it does not share the same concept overall. Each of the four playable characters have different statistics which are not described inside the game, but the overall experience is very similar for each one. On the Xbox 360 console with the original button mapping, holding the right trigger pushes down on the gas pedal, the left for the break and the face buttons for shifting gears. That is all.

There are only two movement settings you can shift the vehicle into – Drive and reverse. Outside of the obvious uses, different combination of switching between them will make the car preform special abilities, such as a boost or a drift. None of these special moves are required to play the main game, but the player must learn them for the majority of the Crazy Box. None are too complex, but the timing could be a problem for some. At worst some of these special techniques could send you into a direction you did not want to go, and if you overuse them the vehicle might backfire and “Bounce” a bit even. Overall the controls are wonderful, anyone can pick up the controller and be able to play the game fine in no time at all.

Sound originalreviews

Crazy Taxi had what many people considered an iconic soundtrack with music by The Offspring and Bad Religion. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinions on these bands, their music could not have fit the style and setting of the game better. Every re-release of this title since it has been on the PC in 2002 have featured new music entirely by an assortment of indie bands, and the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network versions are no different.

Some of the music works fairly well with the game, but the majority of it does not. Many songs are too slow, too loud or just the wrong style altogether. Instead of being songs about careless youths, much of the new soundtrack is about relationships and breaking up. It is hard to understand why this was done so poorly, but both platforms this digital re-release is available on offer custom soundtracks, so the player can make their own soundtrack if they so choose. However, the music will only stop and start when you choose it to, there is no way to program it to work as if it were in the game normally.

Making matters worse, in this release the sound effects have been horribly compressed. The voices in particular have no volume control and are almost impossible to hear at all when much of the music is playing. This actually does hurt the game a fair amount as much of the charm of the characters and the announcer is lost in the process. Even more awkward is how the car sounds have actually been amplified, making them sometimes louder than the music. In the menus, this is actually tied to the voices, so lowering that only makes those significantly harder to hear. All of this is so obvious right up front that it seems as if no one actually even tested this version of the game, even if the gameplay itself is perfectly fine.

Visuals

Set in an over-exaggerated version of San Francisco, the game features a very bright and clean art style (something that later releases in the series would slowly lose), but it does not look as if out of a cartoon at all. The characters are fairly blocky compared to today’s games and the Crazy Box mode has many levels that are not physically possible in the real world and none of the vehicles show any kind of damage, but this all works really well with the style presented.

As the game is over eleven years old now, it has shown it’s age. Normally it is not an issue, but people often phase through objects as if they were not there and some objects in 40 to 50 yards away do not appear right away. None of this really interrupts gameplay, in fact the former is made specifically like that not to slow down the game, but the later could become a problem to some people who have not played the title previously. This port in particular has this happen more often than previous console releases had, which is unacceptable considering the hardware it is now on. Regardless, this port runs perfectly, and is now in widescreen for the first time without a hint of slowdown.

Special Notes

Crazy Taxi like many other SEGA titles often regarded as classics had copycat videogames on the market by other publishers and developers. The most prominently known of this was a title based on the phenomenally popular ‘The Simpsons’ animated comedy sitcom. The Simpsons: Road Rage which was released in 2001 (very close to Crazy Taxi 2‘s release) was so similar that it in fact caused a lawsuit which moved out of court and was settled for an undisclosed amount.

After this, SEGA filed trademarks for numerous concepts included in Crazy Taxi and it’s sequels, but many very similar games are still released even to this day.

Conclusion

Crazy Taxi a game anyone can enjoy, regardless of how good a player they actually are. The style may turn off some, but it is hard to not enjoy the game, every detail within the world and the overall gameplay is designed wonderfully, expertly and it all runs very well in the process. This port of the game may not be the best version to buy – Especially with the surprisingly bad sound direction and new soundtrack – but the overall package is still very enjoyable and the online leaderboards or new widescreen support may be enough on their own for some. Some of the songs included may feature some questionable lyrics, but it is hard to tell, and the player can replace it with the music of their choosing anyways. Otherwise, anyone will be able to enjoy this game as long as they are physically able to hold the controller at all. It’s time to make some craaazy money, are ya ready? Then. Here. We. GO!

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Formats: Arcade, Dreamcast, PC, PlayStation Portable, Xbox Live Arcade on Xbox 360, PlayStation Network PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Zeebo and Mobile Devices.

There is an unlockable rickshaw bicycle that can be used with any of the characters with a use of a code.

Axel can be found in SEGA Superstars in the Crazy Taxi minigame for PlayStation 2’s EyeToy as well as in an unlockable level in Sonic Riders. BD Joe is an unlockable playable character in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing.

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One Response to “Crazy Taxi (Xbox Live Arcade) Review”

  1. Dreamcast Collection Formally Announced « The SEGA Source Says:

    […] Sonic Adventure and Crazy Taxi for the XBLA have previously been reviewed […]

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