No amount of wreckage is too high if it means getting your passenger there on time.
PC Release: March 4, 2011
By Ian Coppock
No game has more successfully gotten away with not giving a damn than Crazy Taxi. This is the secret as to how a bare-bones conglomeration of wreckable worlds and a great soundtrack produced one of the most beloved arcade titles of all time. Though I didn’t recognize the game for many years, I played this back in 2000 on a Dreamcast, and gaped with joy when I saw it again thirteen years later on Steam. Crazy Taxi is a great game not because the developers got lucky, but because they knew how to smash together a carefree game that’s too much fun for you to notice its drawbacks.
Crazy Taxi is a driving game combining the best elements of road rage and piloting a tank. Players can take one of four drivers out for a spin in a sunny city that is 90’s California in all but name.
Once you’ve picked a character and their signature taxi vehicle, you’re behind the wheel of the most indestructible taxi known to man; a vehicle that can shatter barricades and slam through hordes of other cars without skipping a beat.
For five or so minutes, your sole objective is to tear around the city picking up and dropping off as many people as possible. You charge exorbitant fees for these trips and thank Christ for that, because the adamantium plating protecting the taxi ain’t paying for itself!
After picking up a customer, HAUL CHEEKS!! You have a set amount of time to get them to their destination. You have a directional arrow above your taxi that’ll point you where you need to go, but the catch is that it’s not a GPS. It doesn’t account for physical obstacles. I only realized this after I smashed my windshield through a Pizza Hut that, I promise you, was yielding to no one.
I decided to take B.D. Joe’s low-rider taxi for a drive and promptly racked up at least 572 car crashes. No cops, no problem. Plus, your psychopathic passengers will give you additional money for the stuns you pull off. You can build up huge combos by driving into the opposite lane and barely missing other cars, or jet off of a ramp for air and cash in equal measures.
Nothing can destroy your taxi, and the damn thing has only two speeds: parked, and breakneck. The controls are… abrupt, to say the least. But they’re easy to get a hang of. Anyone looking for a game adhering to the laws of physics had better turn a 180, pronto.
Though the rounds are short, the massiveness of the environment means hours of driving fun as you tear around the city. The more customers you can pack into your drive, the higher your score will be. In the world of Crazy Taxi, this number determines the class of your license. Until video game laws are legally binding, I can live with this system. Of course, if you don’t get to the passenger’s destination on time, they’ll curse you out and jump ship, leaving you with wasted time and no fare money.
Adding to the game’s good vibe is a soundtrack of 90’s punk and rock, including The Juliet Dagger’s Taking it Back and… well, that’s the only one I can name, but it’s good music. A lot of what makes this game is the music; it is a companion to the fast-paced gameplay and the sunshiny, relentlessly positive environment. This makes for a game that is carefree and fun as only the 90s were.
Crazy Taxi does have a few basic frustrations. For all the awesomeness afforded by the game’s simplicity, that simplicity also spawns a few issues. For one thing, I’ve lost count of how many times my car has gotten snagged on a curb. Unless the city of Los FranDiego puts burrs on its curbs, I’m not sure why my car got stuck on them. Every once in a while I can solve the problem with a quick peel-out, but not as often as I’d like.
The PC controls are, understandably, not great. Plug a controller in to circumvent this problem, because the keys are a bit random and there’s no indication what you need to press to go forwards, backwards, or to boost. I wasn’t in the mood to play Guess Who with my keyboard, but my 360 controller worked like a charm.
I’m not going to tell you that Crazy Taxi‘s visuals are competitive. I will tell you, though, that the city in which game takes place is wonderfully designed and built to last. There’s a near-perfect balance of steep slopes, winding highways, neat grids and eclectic seaside roads. There’s also a lot to be said for the variety present in the game’s locales and destinations.
Another feature the game packs is a series of challenging bonus maps. Do stunts, pop balloons and even serve as a bowling ball in car form if any of those sound fun to you. Go wild.
Like I said at the beginning, Crazy Taxi is too much fun for you to really notice its drawbacks. It’s a game that appealed to the pyromaniac, customer servant and reckless driver parts of me in equal measure. You can find this game for five bucks on Steam or on last-gen console download stores. I think a mobile version is out now as well.
So what’ll it be? A single shot of Del Taco, or endless opportunity for reckless abandon of safety in pursuit of the almighty stunt dollar?
You can buy Crazy Taxi here.
Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.