Hello all! Last week, we replayed an insanely difficult game largely responsible for the modern cutscene.
Today, we look at an arcade classic. No subtle storytelling here, just over-the-top nonsense, a blaring soundtrack, and so much corporate sponsorship.
Dreamcast cover because that’s the version I own.
Crazy Taxi is an arcade driving game by Sega from 1999, and first came to consoles in 2000 when it hit the Dreamcast. You choose from four cab drivers, each equipped with a car no one would ever use as a taxi, and you pick people up and drop them off. That’s pretty much it.
Except you’re on the clock, and you have to get people to their destinations as quickly as possible. That means driving around a fictionalized San Francisco at top speed, weaving in and out of traffic, hitting ramps and pulling stunts to increase your fare. Then (at least in the Dreamcast and GameCube versions) you drop them off at Tower Records, Pizza Hut, etc. while the soundtrack by Offspring and Bad Religion blare from your speakers.
There’s a lot of stuff like this, for example. Blurry shots because, again, Dreamcast.
What’s interesting about Crazy Taxi as an arcade game is, rather than give you a set amount of time to play, each customer you drop off adds time to your ever-dwindling time limit. This means you can play longer if you’re good enough, as opposed to playing time being governed by how many quarters you have. It’s not really the main reason I like it, but it’s cool nonetheless. Doesn’t matter on the console versions, but still.
You pick up customers of varying ranks. “Red” customers have short trips while “green” customers have longer trips. You have to make as much money as possible while maintaining your time. It’s a bit of a plate-spinning act as you have to decide between a longer, but potentially higher-paying fare, or picking up a red customer for some quick time.
But what really makes Crazy Taxi awesome is the pure adrenaline rush you get from it. The game is an absolute riot. This was an age of gaming where nobody was really concerned with realistic vehicle physics, so cars and trucks typically pinball off your giant taxi as you smash into them. I mean, you’re not really supposed to...but it’s fun to watch anyway. You’re meant to get as close as you can to passing vehicles without hitting them; your customer gives you more money for this, because, as in real life, when you get into a cab you wanna get as close to death as possible.
It’s a pure arcade game; one focused on excitement and just pure fun. It’s a simple concept, yeah, but one that has you hooked as soon as you sit down to play. It’s loud, it’s colorful, it’s got a soundtrack that’s pretty bad in every context except this one, where it’s awesome. It’s got personality in both the cabbies you play as and the customers who frantically cheer you on, or complain when you hit something. There’s a certain charm in the real-world places you visit, like KFC. Yes, it’s a brutal example of in-game advertising, but we didn’t care back then. Too much fun being had.
Crazy Taxi is also a perfect example of a wholly positive arcade experience. What I mean is, quite simply, that the game manages to be awesome without even a shred of violence or general negativity. You can’t run people over or kill anyone, and you’re not shooting people or zombies or what not. I like shooting monsters as much as the next guy, but I don’t wanna do it all the time. It’s cool playing such a riotous, fun filled game, even today.
So go replay Crazy Taxi! If you have the means, play an early version, like the Dreamcast one, with the soundtrack and product placement intact. They removed all that stuff from the later releases, and that kind of sucks. Still, it’s a timeless arcade classic no matter where you play it, and it’s still a blast after all these years. I freaking love it.
Thanks for reading my stuff! As always, leave comments, suggest future games to be featured as Game of the Week, and find me on Twitter! Also, read more of my stuff at Current Digital, and catch up with my (currently on hiatus) other article series here!
Next week, we’ll look at a cool puzzle game with a unique art style. Who knew “escapeologist” was really a Thing?