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Crazy Taxi (Xbox 360) artwork

Crazy Taxi (Xbox 360) review


"While details about the interface have changed, what you'll find once you download the game is that mostly SEGA left things alone. The result is a generally faithful port of the Dreamcast port, with one disappointing exception: the soundtrack is now free from the sounds of The Offspring. In place of that distinct soundtrack, players now are treated to some generic music that sounds sort of like the original tunes, only not quite. Whether you appreciated the music in the original game or not, it was part of the game's identity."



Crazy Taxi is essentially the perfect arcade game. You drop a quarter, grab a fake steering wheel and roar through digital San Francisco in one of four souped-up cabs, picking up passengers and delivering them to familiar locations before finding someone new and repeating the process. Every passenger that you retrieve offers the opportunity for a speedy, a standard or a slow delivery, while each successful run gives you extra seconds on your timer so that you can find another passenger and keep the clock going. Things grow increasingly demanding with each delivery, to the point where every mistake you make can cost you precious seconds and prevent you from driving long enough to rack up an insane score.

Several years into the Dreamcast's too-short life cycle, SEGA released a home port of Crazy Taxi. The Dreamcast version featured a lot of the same things that made the arcade title such a blast to play, excluding the steering wheel (drat!) but including the iconic soundtrack from The Offspring (yay!) and sharp visuals that prevented players from feeling like they had settled. Additionally, there were "Crazy Box" challenges and even an original new city to drive through. In the years that followed, SEGA has released two sequels, a compilation or two and a lot of ports. Today, you can download the latest of those ports on the Xbox 360.

While a few details about the interface have changed, what you'll find once you download the game is that mostly SEGA left things alone. The result is a generally faithful port of the Dreamcast port, with one disappointing exception: the soundtrack is now free from the sounds of The Offspring. In place of that distinct soundtrack, players now are treated to some generic music that sounds sort of kind of like the original tunes, only not quite. Whether you appreciated the music in the original game or not, it definitely was a part of the game's identity. Presumably it's not included now due to licensing issues (something that probably also explains why Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut logos are gone now) or because someone in The Offspring or over at Columbia Records was feeling mean, but the reasons don't really matter; the game just doesn't sound quite right without those familiar punk tunes.

Fortunately, all of the other sounds that you will most readily remember from your previous time with the game remain present, and the graphics also look the way they should. The lack of ugliness on HDTV sets suggests that someone went back through and cleaned things up quite a bit. Crazy Taxi is no longer a pretty game like it was ten years ago, but even after a decade you should be able to play through and appreciate the nostalgia without having to stare at something that time has rendered hideous.

On a less positive note, none of the original game's flaws have been rectified. The physics system appears to have been untouched, which is understandable given that this is a port and not a reworking, but the lack of tweaking in that department means that there are still clipping issues. It's far too easy to slam to a stop at the base of a hill, against a post, then find that you can't start driving again because your vehicle is stuck against an invisible wall. Or you'll try to take off with your new passenger as the timer ticks down and your cab will squeal and swerve back and forth for several agonizing seconds before you either slowly pull forward or you tap the appropriate buttons and make a crazy dash happen.

Crazy Box challenges, originally included as a way to flesh out the game, still function essentially as tutorials on how to drive like a maniac. You can spend hours learning to fine tune your virtual driving skills, but since it's possible to get the "S" rank without mastering even the more basic special abilities if you know what you're doing, your time is better spent just memorizing the city layout. It's difficult to imagine anyone today who will relish the thought of playing the Crazy Box mode for more than a few minutes, at most.

The "Original" city layout is also a disappointment, with dense traffic patterns that all but assure a collision as you round each corner. Walls are positioned throughout the lower bay area where much of the driving seems to take place, making it difficult to correct yourself and follow your intended course if the traffic gets to be too much and you find yourself knocked substantially off-course. Those criticisms were always applicable, but they stand out more now that the game no longer has as much to offer as it once did.

The only real effort here to expand the experience is one that Microsoft would have required: a set of 12 simple Achievements. There really wasn't much creativity when it came to deciding what would grant a bump to your gamerscore, though. Players unlock Achievements by playing well enough to earn C, B, A and S ranks on the "Arcade" and "Original" city modes, and by completing enough of the Crazy Box challenges. There also are some leaderboards so that you can compare your performance to that of others around the world, which is also welcome but by this point an expected feature of ports such as this one. That's it.

Crazy Taxi may still be an example of a nearly perfect arcade game, but this newest home console release shows just how far console games have come in the last ten years. While it's difficult to knock a ten-year-old game for showing its age, it's similarly difficult now to recommend the title to newcomers unless they're playing it for quarters in an environment such as the local arcade or pizza parlor. The new port seems to be aimed at people who have fond memories of the original releases, yet the lack of anything from The Offspring works against that. If you're interested and can get a good deal on the download, it's not a bad way to go, but there's really not much reason to buy it again if you still have convenient access to a Dreamcast.

Rating: 6/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (October 28, 2011)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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SamildanachEmrys posted October 28, 2011:

A fair assessment, and pretty much how I felt when I replayed Crazy Taxi a few months ago. Everything that made it fun is still there, but things have moved on and it hasn't aged all that well.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 29, 2011:

I feel the same way, which is why my copy of Crazy Taxi is currently in the box to go to the thrift store. Not a bad game, but there are others I would rather spend my time playing.

EDIT:
That is one of the creepiest cover arts used on this site, second only to Math Gran Prix.
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SamildanachEmrys posted October 31, 2011:

Ha, I hadn't noticed the cover art. You have a point.

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