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Retro Review: Crazy Taxi

Crazy TaxiIt was quite hard picking the next retro review. I’ve been buying some retro games from the internet, but I finally decided.

I was going to review Crazy Taxi 2 actually. I’m not sure why, but it may be because I thought it would be better than the original. How wrong was I! Crazy Taxi 2 sucks like you would never believe. On appearance it looks the same as the first installment (which is a good thing) and it has the same modes (which is a bad thing).

In short, Crazy Taxi 2 keeps most of the recipe which made the first so great, but doesn’t add enough to the mix. You now drive around New York, but all the fares seem to go to the same places and you barely see much of the city in any case. They just didn’t make enough progress to warrant a crappy sequel.

Thankfully the original Crazy Taxi doesn’t have any of these problems – in fact it would make a better sequel to the…er…sequel.

Crazy Taxi was released in the arcades in 1999. It was ported to the Dreamcast by developer Hitmaker in 2000 and later to the PS2 and GameCube in 2001. I have this game on the Dreamcast simply because I prefer the controller.

Crazy Taxi ScreenshotThe basic aim in Crazy Taxi is simple…pick up customers, drive them to their destination, charge ridiculous fares and get more customers while driving so impossibly bad there is no way your driving license isn’t fake. In fact, that’s pretty much what real taxi drivers do anyway – the traffic weaving gits.

There are two cities to drive around. Arcade and Original. Once you’ve chosen a map, you can select Arcade mode where you must pick up and drop off customers successfully to increase the time limit, or there are set time modes ranging from 2-10 minutes, in which you just make as much dosh as possible. The only other mode is the crazy box which involves a bunch of mini-games. These are actually pretty good fun and help to improve your driving skills in the main game as well. A nice add-on, but not something you’ll stick with for long.

The controls in this game are great. Simple and responsive, Crazy Taxi’s controls enable you to pull off tight turns, mad drifts or gentle swerves for busy traffic – near misses in traffic earn extra cash. The controls are shown off best with the Dreamcast controller. Accelerate and brake are performed using the two back triggers, turning with the nicely placed analog stick while the A and B buttons change gear from Forward to Reverse. If you’re looking for a realistic driving experience though then Crazy Taxi isn’t for you, but the name kinda gives that away. Apparently the different cabs have different driving styles (the manual doesn’t say so), but there is no way you can notice the difference. If it’s true then Hitmaker have made it about as obvious as the Liberal Democrats party policies. This is something they should have expanded on, if not in the first rendition, at least in Crazy Taxi 2, but sadly no. It doesn’t matter too much anyway, as there are only four characters to choose from and I always went with B.D. Joe ‘cos he is more blinging than Jimmy Saville and cooler than you could ever hope to be…admit it, you loser!

My only major gripe with this game is that, while you try to get as much money as quickly as possible by going to nearby customers, they all seem to go to the same places. It means that, even in a 10 minute drive, you can end up driving around one corner of the city unless you actively drive to the other end. But the game seems to know what you’re doing and thinks you’re being cocky and so your first fare, I can guarantee, takes you back to where you started. It’s like an immigrant strolling into an area populated by members of the BNP…you’re just not welcome, so you better get out of there before somebody ‘sorts you out’. It’s not fair and I hate it.

Let’s move onto some more positives…

The game is well presented and Hitmaker have done a great job in ensuring Crazy Taxi has high presentation qualities. The menus are clear, the colours are vibrant and the scenery in the game is well-defined. i.e. it isn’t all just a pixellated blur as you drive along. For the time, the graphics were really nice. I wouldn’t say groundbreaking as such, but well polished. There are some minor glitches such as passengers walking through the taxi itself. Avoidable? Yes. Excusable? Probably.

Although the two maps you drive around are pretty big and have varying landscapes, driving past some of the buildings is like driving through communist Russia – except there are no gangs, drugs, prostitutes, dilapidated hospitals, cheap vodka or corrupt governments. Maybe that’s where Crazy Taxi 2 went wrong?

The music soundtrack is one of the best I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately there are only six tracks, half by The Offspring and the other half by Bad Religion. So if that’s not your style, then tough! To be honest it’s not the type of music I normally listen to, but it suits this game perfectly. Much better than the rock boyband crap you get in Sonic games nowadays.

I could go on with this review. The game definitely not perfect, with some bizarre graphical glitches occurring regularly, but it is absolutely addictive and it will have you hooked for hours. Just don’t buy Crazy Taxi 2 from Amazon in the hope it’s even better…like me, you’ll have wished you’d spent that money on a turd with a cherry on top.


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