Crazy Taxi was always a game that was better in concept than in execution. It's also a game made for the arcades with a custom sit-down cabinet, and that didn't really translate well to home play. It was among the batch of games I got with my first Dreamcast in 2000, and it ended up being the least-played, not because it was bad but because it was the most shallow by far.

As with most of their digital download releases thus far, Sega simply has ported the old Dreamcast version with only minor modifications, most of those due to legal licensing reasons. The PC version sports a whole new soundtrack by three bands I've never heard of. One appears to be trying to sound like the Rolling Stones. The music is nothing special, but not terrible, and there's much more variety than there was in the arcade/Dreamcast original. Lord knows I've heard enough "10 IN 20000 10!" and "SON OF OOOOONE!" for one lifetime. The product placement businesses like KFC also had to be stripped out, replaced with generic names like "Fried Chicken Shack."

So if you're one of these Millenials that's totally unfamiliar, what Crazy Taxi does is drop you in a not-very-accurate replication of San Francisco (with some other random stuff from around California bolted in for good measure) as the world's worst taxi driver. Neither you or other cars can ever get damaged and the physics are unrealistic. You careen around destroying property and bouncing off other cars trying to deliver your fares as fast as possible ... well, technically you're supposed to just barely avoid crashes to give your passengers a thrill and get bonus money, but plowing through crates and bouncing off of trucks is almost inevitable given the dense urban environment and need to move as fast as possible at all times. Bumper Car Taxi isn't far off the mark.

Since the game originated in arcades and had an expensive cabinet, it forced you to not dilly-dally at all in delivering passengers and then getting right to the next passenger. The game world is actually pretty sizable, but conscious exploration of it was basically impossible due to the tight-as-can-be time limits on everything. Fail to immediately get a new passenger after dropping one off and the game was over, so you were subject to the random destination whims of whoever happened to be nearby.

That's alleviated a bit with the home port, which allows you to work for a fixed shift of 3, 5 or 10 minutes rather than constantly chasing bonus time. There's no new levels, though. The "original" mode remixes the arcade map a bit, but this is still pure "score attack" gameplay with no real sense of progression. They did throw in some little bonus trick jump games, but those don't last long.

One problem unique to this PC port is that you seem to get hung up on non-pavement terrain way more than I remember from back on the Dreamcast. Coming to a stop on grass or such can put a swift end to your game as suddenly you can't turn or accelerate properly for some reason.

Time hasn't been kind to Crazy Taxi's lack of depth and inherent repetitive nature, and with the added terrain glitching in this version it makes the whole thing kind of a tough sell. The core gameplay and idea is still pretty good, and this may still do it for nostalgia trippers (and it's nice to finally play the game without The Offspring's awful dated 20-second bro-rock clips in your ear), but this game was in need of more than just a simple port.

Videos :

* Gameplay Video