Following on from the huge success of the Xbox LIVE Arcade and PlayStation Network port of Sonic Adventure, SEGA brings another Dreamcast classic to the world of digital distribution, Crazy Taxi. However, while the aforementioned free-roaming 3D debut of the speed freak hedgehog more closely resembled it’s later GameCube outing, Crazy Taxi is undeniably the Dreamcast version through-and-through; with all the benefits nostalgia and pitfalls of the aging of technology which that brings.
The bulk of Crazy Taxi lies within the two variations of its classic high-speed adrenaline rush gameplay. For the uninitiated, the simple premise of Crazy Taxi is to pick-up a passenger by stopping within their attention radius and follow the direction of a guiding arrow to their final destination, braking within the fairly large drop-off zone to allow said passenger to leave the vehicle. Off course, the game wouldn’t be called ‘crazy’ if there wasn’t some other element to it, and that additional mechanic comes in the form of a time limit. Governing your every action, in the Arcade Mode the time limit is extended with every successful pick-up. Getting from a-to-b at the highest possible speed is of course the ultimate goal, with higher score being awarded for near-misses with other road users, air time and pulling off one of the many available stunts. The variation to this set-up that Original mode brings is that of an all-new city. Providing new passengers, destinations and routes, but essentially playing the same game.
A further gameplay mode, entitles Crazy Box, is essentially a mini-game mode. Taking the basic settings of the main game and applying a whole new set of rules, Crazy Box is as typically SEGA as the mini-game presentations of Super Monkey Ball. A series of sixteen events increasing in difficulty, ranging from jumping off ramps to popping giant balloons, Crazy Box is a welcome accompaniment to the Arcade and Original modes, and most certainly destined to be a source of great frustration as the difficulty level ramps-up.
Crazy Taxi is as charmingly presented as it ever was, but the years have not been kind. Maintaining that essential sense of speed, it’s the bland textures and terrible draw distance that betray the game, with its limited array of vehicle and buildings proving its age. The soundtrack is the only area which appears to have had any work done to it in the transition to a digitally delivered title – a bizarre decision but one that’ll only have impact on the keenest fans of the Dreamcast release.
As the second title in SEGA’s Dreamcast re-releases, Crazy Taxi is a surprisingly welcome respite from the adventurous Platform titles and cerebral challenges that Xbox LIVE Arcade has matured to deliver, and much like Ubisoft’s revisit to Arcade sentimentalities in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled, Crazy Taxi is loud and brash in all the right ways. It may have aged visually, and the selection of vehicles and maps may be limited compared to today’s standards, but most importantly, Crazy Taxi is just as enjoyable now as it was a decade ago.