Crazy Taxi’s release in arcades last fall came as a big surprise. After all, who would have thought that a game based on driving a taxi cab through a city that looks like a cross between San Francisco and Pittsburgh would provide so much playability, so much action and so much fun. To me, playing it is the greatest cure for road rage since Carmageddon on the PC.
The best part of the arcade game is that is runs on Sega’s NAOMI board, which is basically a Dreamcast board with extra RAM and the game code embedded on the board’s ROM. As a result it could easily be ported over to the Dreamcast, and go figure, it’s out now and just as great as it was in the arcades.
Crazy Taxi’s premise looks simple at first. Choose from four different cab drivers, each with their own abilities and pick up/drop off as many fares as possible to earn a lot of money. But what makes the game so much fun is to earn more money, you need to weave your way through a lot of heavy traffic, gain air from some of the steep jumps the course has to offer and do some wild power slides.
Now, if we saw some of the cab drivers in the Washington DC area near the GiN headquarters driving like this, I’m sure they would have their licenses taken away. Uh…maybe not.
The Dreamcast version carries on this great tradition, featuring the same course used in the arcade game, as well as a new "Dreamcast-exclusive course." This new course proves to be a bigger challenge than before, including driving down a subway tunnel, driving underwater and many jumps over suspension bridges.
And if that isn’t enough, there is also a new "Crazy Box" mode. In it, there are several mini-games done to test out jumping distance, speed cornering and handling. One that comes into mind is "Crazy Bowling," or basically driving your cab into seven different set of bowling pins, trying to get a strike for each one. It is quite a challenge, and takes a lot of patience to do.
Not only does CT look great on the Dreamcast, it sounds great two. Featuring the soundtracks of Bad Religion and The Offspring, the music carries out the same hard edged, anything goes mood the rest of the game has. Not only that, but the commentary by the drivers and passengers is just as hilarious.
A word of warning though, it does contain some moderate language, such as references to being called a "punk ass" or a "son of a bitch." It might not really be much to worry about, but you might want to be on alert should the kids be playing.
If there was anything I would say bad about this game, it would be that I wish it included a "director mode" similar to that of Driver. That way, I can watch all my wrecks and all the destruction that I caused. On the bright side though, the end credits replay all the stops, so I can see if I sideswipe a building before the passenger jumps off.
Crazy Taxi is definitely the first "must have" Dreamcast title for the year 2000. Those who were impressed with it in the arcades will be even more impressed with this product. I don’t see how this game get any less than our top GiN Gem rating of 5, It’s just that great.