Hitmaker / Sega (1999)
I'm not sure what is more memorable about this game. Is it the actual game or gameplay or is it the soundtrack? Crazy Taxi is a fantastic arcade game by Sega that was ported over to the Dreamcast (among other consoles) and is the brain child of Kenji Kanno. When you stop and think about the game, it's a rather odd concept of a game. A taxi simulator? I would've never thought it would have worked, but man I am glad that I'm wrong as this is a blast to play.
The Dreamcast version is pretty faithful to the arcade version and if you ask some, the DC version is better than the arcade. Sega's home version offers the same arcade mode, but also offers and original arranged verison of the game to pump more replayability into it. There is also the added Crazy Box, which we'll look at in a bit.
The game is pretty simple. You chose one of 4 different taxi drivers, each with their own unique looking taxi. You can chose between Axel, B.D. Joe, Gena and Gus. In addition to the different vehicles each driver has, each vehicle handles differently from one another.
Axel's taxi as decent acceleration & decceleration and handling, but it's light weight and wide turns make it tough to navigate at times.
B.D. Joe's taxi has the fastest normal speed, decent acceleration & deceleration, it's a heavy car and it's easy to pull of crazy drifts. The weight of the car makes it hard to get knocked around in traffic and tight spots, but it also makes it tough to handle.
Gena's taxi has the fastest acceleration & deceleration speed of all the taxis, best brakes, handles the easiest and has a slim profile. It's light weight makes it prone to be knocked around however. The handling of this car takes some getting used to, but once you do you won't want to use the other cab drivers.
Gus' taxi handles really good and the taxi is rather slim, however it has the slowest acceleration & deceleration making it tough to use until you learn some the more advanced tactics.
I usually use Gena when I play, but on my latest playthroughs I've been trying to get used to Gus and his taxi. It's been awhile since I've played so I'm having to re-learn the Crazy Dash and Crazy Drift techniques!
Gameplay is easy. Drive around until you see a customer with a dollar sign over them. Their pick up radius will be marked with a circle. Simply stop within this radius to pick up your customer and they will tell you where they want to go. The color of the dollar sign will give you an idea of the distance you'll have to travel and the payout you'll get...depending on how long it takes you! Green pay the most, but the passenger's destination is furthest away. Yellow is medium pay and medium distance while red will be a short drive and a small payout.
Once you pick up your passenger, a large green arrow will appear at the top of the screen to help navigate you to your destination. However it's not always accurate and until you learn the maps the arrow may get you lost or take you the long way. You'll also see a timer beside your passenger. Get them to your destination while this timer is green and you'll get the Speedy tag and a better pay out. Yellow will get you the Noramal tag and Red gets you the Slow tag. Your passenger will usually berate you and kick your taxi when they get out. If you don't get to your destination before the timer runs out, your customer will simply jump out of the taxi while you're driving.
How you get from point A to point B is up to you. There are short cuts to find, or you can just plow through the park, parking decks or the hillside. The crazier you drive, the more tips your passenger will throw at you. Try driving on the other side of the road and threading the needle against oncoming traffic. Just be ready for the insults your passenger will hurl at you if you hit traffic.
Once the main timer runs out, you'll be graded based on the number of customers you picked up and delivered as well as the amount of fare you earned. You'll be reward with a class license based on your results. The best rating is Crazy License ($20,000 to $99,999) and the worst is an E class license ($.001 to $.999) or nothing at all.
If you are tired of playing the basic game, you can opt to play the all new Crazy Box. This is a collection of mini games, but these also help you hone your skills using some of the other techniques. My recent playthrough of these games was pretty ugly as I couldn't pull off the moves I needed to be successful.
Some of the mini games, like this one, require you to get your passenger to their destination within a certain time frame. In addition to that you have to stay on the road and out of the ocean. Sounds easy, right? Well this is one of those levels where if you haven't perfected the Crazy Drift you'll struggle as the road gets narrower and narrower the closer you get to the end.
Other mini games aren't as tough on you and puts you in a large arena with 20 large balloons you have to bust. You'll be able to use the Crazy Dash and Crazy Drift to help you accomplish your goal within the time limit.
Crazy Taxi is as fun today as it was nearly 16 years ago when I first played it. It's got a rockin' soundtrack thanks in part to the Offspring and Bad Religion, though if you play it a lot then the tunes may get on your nerves a bit. To me this is one of those games that is fun to play in small doses. You won't want to sit down for hours and play this...or at least I wouldn't. However it's a great game to play here and there or with friends to compete for the best class license.
The game went on to receive several ports on different consoles and even on a few handhelds like the Game Boy Advance and PSP...however the Dreamcast is the best version hands down. It features all of the original music and even the product placement of such brands as KFC, Tower Records and Fila. If you've never played it, what are you waiting for?! It's not that expensive on the secondary market so go and grab you a copy.