- Platforms: PSN | XBLA (reviewed)
- Developer: SEGA AM3 | Hitmaker
- Publisher: SEGA
As a rabid SEGA fanboy back in the day (no, I don't deserve your pity), I was genuinely excited by the news that a bevy of classic Dreamcast titles were headed to PSN and Xbox Live Arcade. A whole new generation of players would be able to experience the games that delighted me in my youth... but the smirk was wiped from my face after reviewing their treatment of Sonic Adventure. Rather than polishing it up, ironing out the kinks and adding value to the package, SEGA heartbreakingly decided to release the decade-old game as a quick and lazy port. It was a truly horrible precedent- so we hoped and prayed that their reissue of our beloved Crazy Taxi would be a different kettle of fish.
In case you don't already know, Crazy Taxi casts players as a quirky taxi driver who has to deliver passengers to their destinations against a ferociously tight countdown timer. The objective is to ferry them around the city as quickly as possible, with new punters adding valuable seconds to the time limit. Speedy trips pay bigger fares (acting as a high score)- and revelling in ridiculous near misses and ludicrous airborne stunts adds yet more danger money to the pot. A selection of multi-layered shortcuts make the small play area feel much bigger than it actually is. Crazy Taxi is an adrenaline-fueled and primal experience that still as feels fresh and exciting today as it did over a decade ago.
The premise, therefore, is very simple. And it's fun as hell. However, Crazy Taxi broke the mould by bringing a deep layer of nuance to the driving experience. Forward and reverse gears aren't just a cosmetic touch- rather, they allow veteran taxi drivers to engage in a series of highly advanced manoeuvres that make the difference between a mediocre paycheck and a massive payday. The Crazy Dash, Crazy Stop and Crazy Tailspin (amongst others) require split second manipulation of gearbox and throttle, but will let you shave valuable seconds off of long journeys as well as engage in fist-pumpingly awesome cinematic stunts. Grizzled fans will be able to fall back on muscle memory for the one-two timing of the Crazy Dash, but unfortunately they're very poorly explained and nigh-on impossible to master for newcomers who will soon tire of the experience. I would highly recommend checking out a guide or two in lieu of the woefully inadequate tutorial menu.
Crazy Taxi offers both the arcade and original modes along with customisable time limits that allow players to see more of the city. Sixteen 'Crazy Box' minigames also provide a few extra minutes of challenging grind that demand complete mastery of the advanced techniques. However, there simply isn't much to it. Players will see everything the game has to offer in less than an hour, with the two modes only really offering cosmetic differences. Grinding away on local leaderboards delivers the only true replay potential. Value for money is at an all-time low- even by downloadable standards- and it's a shame that the superior sequel or some new Crazy Box modes weren't thrown in for good measure! It's a lazy port, pure and simple.
Graphically, Crazy Taxi has been slightly airbrushed to make the textures acceptable on modern HD televisions. It's still undeniably ugly- but the target audience will appreciate gameplay over graphics every time. Widescreen support has also been included, which makes a world of difference compared to the restrictive aspect ratio of Sonic Adventure. However, it's still a far cry from the blood, sweat and tears that went into turning the classic Afterburner franchise into an eyepopping HD downloadable masterpiece with plenty of added value. Once again, it's an example of doing the bare minimum rather than putting in the serious effort that a beloved classic truly deserves.
It's also gutting that Offspring and Bad Religion have been wrenched from the once-awesome soundtrack due to licensing reasons. Sob.
- Great arcade gameplay with deceptive depth
- Widescreen support
- The original classic has been ported in its entirety. No more, no less.
- Graphics and mechanics could have used further polish
- Awful value for money
- The ancient game has been ported in its entirety. No more, no less.
The Short Version: Crazy Taxi is as fast, furious and funky as it ever was... but that's as far as it goes. SEGA have delivered another extremely lazy Dreamcast port that fails to offer newcomers (and even diehard fans) any real incentive to buy beyond the sheer nostalgic sake of it. There's no denying that the timeless formula is still great fun in short bursts- yet it's sadly difficult to recommend at full price. Frankly, it's high time that SEGA started working on a full sequel that would bring the franchise fully into the next generation.