Retro Respawn: Crazy Taxi

The SEGA Dreamcast was a console that I thought I’d never own. I was aware of it during the sixth generation and I was certainly impressed by it as a piece of kit, but the time period where I would have picked one up passed and went. Whereas I saw a SEGA Saturn available in Retro Reload in Stockport and decided I would shell out the money for it, there was no such scenario with the Dreamcast. Rather than chase the dream (Pun not intended) of owning every console, I let it pass. However, I was lucky enough that my friend Adam and his lovely fiancée Clare saw a Dreamcast in a far off place and picked it up for me for my birthday! So thanks guys as you made this particular edition of Retro Respawn possible!

The only issue I had with The Dreamcast had to do with trying to get a scart connection for it that worked. I bought two that didn’t but finally found a third one on Amazon that did the job. The default RF connection that came with the console would show a picture, but for some reason I couldn’t get sound on it, even after some tinkering. Adam did a wonderful job in getting the console to read discs, which it previously couldn’t do, with some handy DIY console repair so it was just the cable issue that delayed this. I’d been planning to look at this game for a while and it was one of the first games I bought for the console.

Anyone who ventured into an arcade in the late 90’s/early 00’s will know of Crazy Taxi. As an arcade coin op it’s literally perfect. You pick one of four colourful characters and have to pick up fares in your jazzed up taxi. The quicker you get your fare to their destination, the more money you will make and the more time that will be added to your clock. The goal is to get as many fares successfully to their destination before the timer comes to an end.

An arrow will pop up at the top of the screen pointing in the general direction of where you need to go and how to get to it is then up to you. There an assortment of other vehicles standing in your way as well as other hazards that will slow you down. Thankfully, your cab is not only indestructible but it can also operate underwater, which is handy if a bridge is out and you need to get across a river to another side of the city in a hurry. You can bulldoze your way through oncoming traffic or you can zip between vehicles and obstacles, gaining tips from your excitable passenger as you go. The passenger will chastise you for taking too long or hitting other cars, but will also shower you with praise if you perform a death defying stunt that knocks a few seconds off the journey.

The passengers are essentially enablers, goading you on to drive badly but then yelling at you when said driving inconveniences them. It’s kind of like a Taxi version of Master Blaster from Mad Max. The Offspring provide the instantly recognisable main song of the game with “All I Want” which instils a vivid nostalgia rush in me, and I’m sure many others. The minute I heard that song kick in it was like I was back in 1999 and all seemed possible, just before the world crushed me under its unforgiving heel and cackled at my disconcertion. Crazy Taxi is a wild thrill ride and is excellent fun for 5-10 minutes, but after that it ultimately just becomes more of the same.

Crazy Taxi was made to provide quick thrills in an amusement arcade and wasn’t really built for a home release. Due to the nature of the game, you can’t really explore the city in any detail as you’ll be too busy swerving to avoid the other cars on the road and get your fare to their destination as quickly as possible. Graphically the game looks just fine and is bright and colourful. The Taxi drivers are oozing with character when you look at them on the menu screen, but sadly their dialogue doesn’t match up to their design. There’s just very little to make you want to stick around. The home release does have challenges that are built into the game itself, but ultimately there’s no end game that will drag you back for more runs. After a short period you’ll have seen everything the game has to offer.

What didn’t help Crazy Taxi at the time was that GTA Vice City introduced a Taxi Mode to its game as well, which operated in pretty much the same way. And as great as The Offspring are, I’d take Flock of Seagulls or Gary Numan over them any day of the week. Crazy Taxi was, and indeed still is, an excellent arcade game. If arcades still existed and I saw a Crazy Taxi cabinet in one, I’d definitely spill some pennies into it and have a go. I wouldn’t recommend going to the trouble of buying it for a home console though unless you could find it at a cheap price.

The Dreamcast is most certainly capable of better and we’ll be exploring that in the coming months, so if you’re a big Dreamcast fan keep your eyes on Gaming Respawn. Next week’s game won’t be a Dreamcast one, as I think I’ll head over to SONY again as I’ve been focusing on Nintendo and SEGA a lot the past month. Not exactly sure what game it will be yet, but it will be one for PSX or PS2.

As always, I’ll post some YouTube footage of the game below.

Thanks for reading

Peace Out

Take a look at footage of the game being played on YouTube by xboxvidiot by clicking HERE

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