This week marks one of the biggest events to happen in the last decade or so for people the world over and that, my friends, is the release of the Sega Dreamcast. A storm of perfected technology dripping with everything other consoles at the time could only dream of accomplishing – it sent a clear message that Sega not only wanted to be first out of the gate come the next hardware generation – but they meant some mean business in the meantime.
While the Dreamcast, according to some, went the way of the 3DO, CDi and Atari Jaguar, there are others who still have their Dreamcast (or Dreamcasts) nestled gentle amongst more modern or equally antique gaming systems. Personally, being a Sega Addict, I can attest that I have not one, but two Dreamcasts and I try to show them an equal amount of attention when I can. So, being their birthdays I decided it was time to sit down with one of the first games I fell in love with on the good ole DC and have a go.
Sweet merciful, was I in for a rude awakening.
It isn’t that Crazy Taxi is terrifyingly difficult in a way that would make certain body parts shrink up inside one’s body while others might bloat with indigestion – it’s that it carries the arcade experience perfectly to the home console – complete with issues and all.
Crazy Taxi, for the people who have either lived in a cave for the last two decades or were born in the last five years, is a game where you race around the city, picking up and dropping off pedestrians. There is a timed element that creates a challenge, but the fact of the matter is that without it, the game wouldn’t be all the same if you could just roam about the sandbox of the city picking up and dropping people off. That’s the short of it.
The long of it is that the game puts you in the shoes of one of four different taxi drivers who are out to go fast, drive reckless and make as much scratch as they can racing from point A to B and on to C – and so on. There is the lovably cheeky default driver who looks like one of the members of Offspring, who coincidentally lent vocals to the games soundtrack. Additionally, there is the obligation, regulation surfer dude who is out to hang ten from behind the wheel of his taxi. A sultry chick who likes nothing more than flying down the streets of the city and the salty older cabbie that looks like Danny DeVito gone Hawaiian.
While the stats of the drivers are nothing to write home about and realistically has very little differences between them, it stands to note that a natural preference for a specific driver will eventually become apparent for any player who grips a controller long enough. Personally, I go with the surfer dude, go figure.
Whether you pick Arcade mode, or one of the timed modes, there really is no way you can lose when it comes to the damn awesome gameplay. Driving through the city streets you can opt to pick up a pedestrian and based on the floating dollar sign above their head – whether it being green, yellow, or red – will determine the overall difficulty of the brief experience. The distance and time taken to get from the pick-up to the drop-off are the basic elements that can make your drive either surprisingly easy or terrible as hell.
I mean, let’s be honest here, when you have less than 15 seconds to make it over a 1000 yards through dense urban streets and hitting a car will be enough to make you flip back and go the direction you were coming from – hell, that’s enough to drive anyone into a minute murderous rage. Despite the brief taste of homicidal rage though, the game is fun enough to keep people coming back for more and since the game released pretty early on in the Dreamcast lifecycle, that has been the case pretty consistently for me.
Sure, there are other games I could be playing like Skies of Arcadia, Shenmue or Sonic Adventure just to name a slim few, but the awesome arcade feeling of playing the game is what makes it such an appealing and memorable game. The game isn’t particularly difficult; as I said previously, but the minutia of arcade-related issues is the double-edged sword of excellence. Basically, the thing that makes the game hard is the exact same thing that makes it great.
So, while my confidence in the game isn’t exactly misplaced or miscoded – it’s that I love a great game as much as I love my Dreamcast.