For a system that failed to garner a big enough following, the Sega Dreamcast sure was loaded with a plethora of extremely well crafted video games. Capcom provided a who’s who of arcade fighting titles, ported to a near flawless state. Even some of the titles ported from other consoles were met with high praise, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. Not to be left off that list, Sega also had a hand in some powerhouses, both exclusive to the system, as well as ports of their smash hit arcade releases. Crazy Taxi is a prime example of a Sega arcade game port that met with tremendous success both in the arcades, and its stellar console port.
Moving from a steering wheel to an analog control scheme, Crazy Taxi manages to steer clear of any sloppy conversions in such a vital factor to the games success. Each of the four taxis handles differently from one another, but all retain a masterful command with the Dreamcast controller. The L and R triggers on top, which are pressure sensitive, coincide with braking and acceleration. Not only do they substitute brake and acceleration pads in a commendable manner, but they feel extremely natural. Sega managed to port over a steering wheel and foot pad control scheme in a way that most other arcade racing game ports manage to struggle with in one form or another.
Visually speaking, Crazy Taxi offers a world of detail, clean and teeming with activity. Whether its a massive traffic jam, or numerous pedestrians trying to flag you down for a ride, Crazy Taxi’s attention to detail is not only impressive, but helps augment the experience, along with the excellent controls. There are almost no animation slowdowns of any kind, providing for a smooth drive down a rough road of adversity that you’ll drive through.
The audio can be a mixed bag. You have some of the more iconic sound bytes from the commentator throughout the game, which never really get old. The rest of the sound effects are the fitting sounds you’d expect in a driving title, nothing more, nothing less. The music is where you start to encounter a bumpy road. As recognizable as the commentator is, the extremely small number of musical tracks will grate at your nerves. All you’ll remember for years to come is “YA YA YA YA YA!” and ” ALL I WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANT!”. You’ll never be able to discern anything else. Although this sounds like a fatal blow of Toyota proportions, but thankfully, the audio as a whole is not essential to becoming immersed into the game. Looping several Goldfinger tracks and Metallica’s Whiskey in the Jar was enough for me.
While the arcade version had one modestly sized stage to drive through, Sega released a second exclusive stage, with more area you can cover and more ways to drive the citizens crazy. Being that this is basically a game where you play as a taxi driver, driving through the city and dropping off various pedestrians at their destination, having a large area to cover is essential to staving off any sort of monotony. Even with just the default arcade city, you’ll never feel as if the town isn’t big enough. Learning shortcuts is key, as some of these clients will require you to traverse from one end of the map to the other. Discovering each little split second shave off your time is just as refreshing the five thousandth time as it is the first. As elementary as the premise is, you’ll find yourself coming back time after time, for years to come. It’s definitely one of the best single player racing titles you’ll ever encounter, with plenty of incentives to come back race after race.
They really don’t make them like they used to, which is another reason why Crazy Taxi is so endearing. While the arcade scene has just about died off for the genre, Sega and developer Hitmaker (how across the board appropriately named) crafted a title that is timeless. It’s just as fun to play now as it was ten years ago when it was ported over to the Sega Dreamcast. While the music will make you want to take a hammer to your speakers, the visuals and phenomenal gameplay drives Crazy Taxi into instant classic status. Definitely a game that should be experience by all gamers.