Crazy Taxi Xbox 360 review
Publisher – SEGA – Developer – SEGA Studios Shanghai – Genre – Racing – Players – 1 – Age Rating – 3+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3, DC, PS2, GC
Nostalgia has played an important part in Xbox Live Arcade, from new versions of classic arcade games to modern titles that hark back to classic styles of play. Now SEGA has joined those looking back, and has begun a series of Dreamcast ports that are also available on the PlayStation Network.
Crazy Taxi is based around a simple premise and the sort of blue-sky gaming environment that SEGA is renowned for. Drive your taxi around the busy streets of a city, pick up fares and get them to their destination as quickly as possible. On the way you can execute crazy stunts, driving close to other vehicles (known as a Crazy Through, which can be chained), drifting and jumping to increase the fare received for a successful trip. Crash too many times or take too long and your passenger will leave.
The new port retains the modes from the Dreamcast version. Arcade is a recreation of the arcade’s city, while Original mode features a new layout. Playing by Arcade rules in either city gives a limited amount of time, with bonus seconds earned for quick drivers. You can also play for 5 or 10 minutes to earn the highest score. There is in addition the Crazy Box mode, a series of mini-games introducing the key skills (Crazy Dash, Crazy Drift) and getting tougher as it goes along. There are four different characters to play, all trying to earn their taxi license; awarded at the end of each game, this goes from class D up to class A and the ultimate class S.
There are some important differences to the Dreamcast version, although they do not affect gameplay. First of all the licensed songs from The Offspring and Bad Religion are no longer on the soundtrack, but it does have the option to listen to a custom soundtrack in game. The other change is in some of the shops, the famous chains replaced with generic names and graphics for similar licensing reasons.
Graphically, this is not outstanding. While the bright blue skies and cartoon characters still look OK, there is plenty of noticeable pop-up due to the short draw distance and blocky textures. There has been no HD makeover. The new soundtrack also does its job without being too intrusive and the speech remains part of the experience.
It is the control method perhaps that will be most off-putting to a lot of gamers. It relies on timing and manipulation of the two gears, something that proves tricky when pushing buttons on a joypad. An alternative in the style of Burnout or Sega’s OutRun 2 – where drifting is much easier to pull off – would have been a welcome addition. The one thing that does remain true to all incarnations of the game is the gameplay, and that is still fun in its own way. The pressures of beating time limits and weaving through traffic are coupled with the chance to earn Achievements – both in the main game and for completing stages of Crazy Box. That and the online leaderboards with your friends’ scores add some much-needed depth to the game.
The Dreamcast was a great format and played host to some excellent games, and while Crazy Taxi is fondly remembered, it does lack polish in this update. With more work on the graphics and the controls, this would have been a worthwhile purchase for most gamers. As it stands the primary target will be those who have played it before and enjoyed it.