LGR – Crazy Taxi – PC Game Review

September 17, 2019

[keyboard typing noises]
[“Change The World” by The Offspring plays] [“Change The World” by The Offspring plays] Hey hey hey, it’s crazy that I haven’t talked about this game yet, so let’s get right to it! Crazy Taxi! Originally produced by Sega for their Naomi-based arcade machines in 1999. This particular one is the original big box release of the PC version, adapted by StrangeLite and published by Activision Value in 2002. The reason we’re taking a look at this particular release is because A: I want to, and B: I feel like it. It also comes from a time when the content of the game was largely unchanged from the arcade. The one big change here is that it features an entirely different soundtrack, which the box mistakenly lists as a selling point. Inside, you get a jewel case with the game on a single CD-ROM, and this little insert telling you how to set up the game, and… that’s it. No manual or anything cool, leaving a lot of empty space in this huge box, so you may as well use it to store something awesome. Crazy Taxi begins with some crazy company logos, followed by your crazy host! [in-game VO]
“Hey hey, come on over, have some fun with Crazy Taxi!” I love that guy; he always reminded me of Jim Varney. After this, the attract mode starts playing, and you’re introduced to the all-new soundtrack. [“The Distance” by Too Rude plays] Bands like Pivit, Too Rude, and Total Chaos replace the likes of Offspring and Bad Religion from the original game, which, while no comparison, it certainly could be worse. It’s also super easy to swap out the music files, since they’re just MP3s, so if you want the true experience, then: [in-sync with the game]
“YA YA YA YA YA!” [“All I Want” by The Offspring plays] Anyway, this PC version is based on the excellent Sega Dreamcast port, which features the original Arcade Mode, a confusingly-titled Original M ode, and a selection of challenges called Crazy Box. I’ve never been much of a fan of Crazy Box mode, since it reminds me of those annoying license challenges in racing games like Gran Turismo. Now sure, it’s all fun and games when you’re popping balloons and mowing down bowling pins, but it’s a huge pain when it starts expecting you to perfectly execute a long string of tricky moves in a short amount of time. Just not my idea of fun. And it’s even worse on this PC version if you’re using a keyboard, since the controls are digital instead of analog. The Original Mode is the same thing as the Arcade Mode, except it’s not the original Arcade Mode. It’s a whole new map made specifically for the Dreamcast port and carried over into this PC version, meaning that it’s an original course for the home version of the game. And finally, the Arcade Mode is… the arcade mode, straight from the original Naomi cabinet with all the same rules and locations. Although you can also play for set lengths of time instead of simply earning more time the better you play, which is a nice touch. And man, I still dig Crazy Taxi. Back when this came out, it blew me away with its sense of speed, combined with an open world environment to explore. Plus I loved seeing real-world locations, like KFC, Tower Records, and Pizza Hut all over the place, subtle advertising or not. It’s one of those perfectly-executed arcade classics, handing you a simple set of controls and objectives, while providing just enough insanity and skill-mastering to make every play session unique. The goal is dead simple: choose a driver and use their taxi to pick people up, then deliver them to their destination somewhere in a fictionalized San Francisco as quickly as possible. Along the way you can perform stunts and tricks to earn more money and boost your speed, resulting in a better score and ranking, once the time runs out. And that is truly it. Sounds like a pretty throwaway arcade experience, and if you just play it once or twice then it really is. But Crazy Taxi has a lot more under the hood (pun intended), and that’s why I keep coming back to this one. Every split second counts in a game like this, so you’ve got to master the art of manipulating your car for every ounce of stop-and-go power it has. Actions as simple as shifting into reverse while slamming on the brakes when you need to stop can make a huge difference to your time. And you have to know precisely how close you can get to each traffic vehicle without colliding, and which jumps are worth the payoff versus the time loss. And there’s also just learning the map and knowing the quickest routes to get where you’re going, and anticipating other cars so you don’t screw up a blind turn. But probably even more important than all of this are the moves that aren’t so obvious, known as Crazy Maneuvers. These are things like the Crazy Boost, which prevents tire spin from a standstill and boosts your top speed while driving, and the Crazy Drift, that lets you take turns sharper at high speed. Combining these with variants for reversing are critical for getting a good score, and even more so for completing the minigames in Crazy Box mode, if you wanna subject yourself to that. Unfortunately, with this PC version, these moves are quite tough to pull off with a keyboard or a controller, especially the ones that involve drifting, since the inputs here lack analog support. Now, you CAN plug in a steering wheel and get the control you need to pull this off more easily, but, ehh… I can’t be bothered for one big reason: [woosh]
the performance. In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t quite running as it should. And that sucks, because one of the defining features of Crazy Taxi was its 60 frames-per-second gameplay, on both the arcade unit and on the Dreamcast. But no matter how good your hardware is, this first PC version of Crazy Taxi just won’t run at full-speed, and sometimes slows down at random, causing a major loss of precision. It’s even more embarrassing considering it doesn’t even support features like anti-aliasing or sharper texture filtering, which even the Dreamcast port had. About the only improvements here are the higher draw distance and resolutions, but that’s a poor trade-off for the abysmal framerate, especially considering that better systems don’t result in any improvements – it runs like crap no matter what. It’s also one of those PC ports that still acts like it’s playing on a console, with weird buttons and input options all over the place, that make the keyboard act like a controller. I may have been somewhat okay with this fifteen years ago, since it was the only way I could play the game at home, but… nowadays it’s pretty stupid to deal with. Soooo yeah… while I love Crazy Taxi as a game, and I’d absolutely recommend anyone play it for a bit of classic arcade goodness, I cannot recommend this PC version, no matter how pretty the box is. Sadly, even the later Steam release is… almost even worse, since it still has performance issues, has a crappier soundtrack and lower sound quality, and has removed wheel support and all the real world businesses. I know some of that is due to licensing and publishing rights changing hands, but the lackluster performance and feature downgrades are just unreasonable, no matter how you slice it. This is one of those games that I really thought would’ve gotten a pretty awesome port to PC by now, but hasn’t happened. As it is, Crazy Taxi is just one of those situations where it’s way better on a console than the PC, and it’s still the absolute best in the arcades. …which is a weird thing to say in 2016! [“Change The World” by The Offspring plays] Hey hey hey! Did you a- [coughs] Ah, I can’t do that voice anymore, it hurts! If you liked this video, then thanks! I appreciate it. You might like some of these! Click on them if you so desire, and there’s more videos every Monday and Friday. And as always, thank you very much for watching.

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