The Dreamcast is one of the most beloved systems in gaming history, spurred on by the likes of Jet Grind Radio, Shenmue and Space Channel 5. Via PSN and XBLA current gen console owners now have the opportunity to play one of the other staples of the Dreamcast era: Crazy Taxi. But has this port of a port of an arcade game stood the test of time?
Anyone who has been into gaming for a while probably has a reasonable idea of how Crazy Taxi plays, but for the uninitiated I’ll do a quick run through. You play as a taxi driver trying to earn as much money as possible before time runs out. In the arcade version of the game you are given 50 seconds at the start and every time you pick up a passenger they will add to that total time, whilst at the same time giving you a time limit and their destination. The taxi can only carry one person at a time, so in order to keep the game going you have to pick up passengers and deliver them to their destinations as fast as possible.
Each person you deliver within the time they specify gives you a flat sum of money, which will depend upon the distance you had to travel as well as a bonus for how well you drove. Passing near random traffic, getting air time and doing drifts are all forms of crazy driving that your passengers will love and even pay you bonuses for. Once you run out of time the game gives you a grade based on how much money you were able to earn before the clock ran out.
That’s everything there is to know about the game. After you learn some special techniques, such as drifting and fast acceleration (triggered by quickly switching from reverse to forward drive), you’ve mastered everything Crazy Taxi has to offer, and therein lies the problem. This type of gameplay is perfect for an arcade setting, where you get a good amount of fun before your quarter runs out and you move on to another game, but it doesn’t have the necessary longevity for a console title that you're meant to play for hours in order to get your money’s worth. Along with being repetitive, the car controls are hard to get used to, since the softest turn you can pull off is still pretty hard, so you can’t control the taxi as accurately as one would like in order to thread the needle between car lanes. The navigation is also extremely outdated and sometimes the arrow will lead you down a less than ideal road, wasting precious seconds just because the game’s navigation is too vague.
You can play original and arcade modes, both of which use different maps. Within those maps you can play arcade rules or give yourself a static time limit of 3, 5 or 10 minutes. Crazy box is a list of different challenges you can attempt, with nine available to start with and seven more unlocked as you complete the first nine. These challenges work well as introductions to the trickier game mechanics, but each one is only 20-30 seconds long and often requires vast numbers of retries. Beating all of these challenges will probably take you 1 to 2 hours, depending on how familiar you are with Crazy Taxi already.
The presentation is about what you would expect from a Dreamcast game, which in this day and age means it looks extremely outdated. It’s definitely not up to the standards of current XBLA and PSN releases. Sound design has remained largely the same as well, and also feels very dated.
Crazy Taxi is a straight port of a Dreamcast game, with all of the faults that come with it. If you loved the game when you played it back in the day and you're perfectly happy with paying for another version of the Dreamcast original, then you probably already bought it and should ignore this review. Otherwise, be warned, this is a bare bones port with zero modern amenities.