Crazy Taxi: review

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  • Format: XBLA (version reviewed), PSN
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Players: 1
  • Site: www.xbox.com

With Sega’s latest scheme to re-release Dreamcast classics on XBLA and PSN, they seem intent on shooting themselves in the foot. Sonic Adventure’s release proved once and for all that it wasn’t ever a good game to begin with, and a bare-bones emulation job didn’t do it any favours. Their next target in rose-tinted memory destruction: Crazy Taxi. But despite their best efforts to undermine a classic arcade driving game, it manages to shine just a bit beneath all the dust and cobwebs.

This new version adds nothing new, and in fact Sega went out of their way to ruin some of the things that made the game so enjoyable. The 90s-era thrash-punk soundtrack is gone, replaced by a mish-mash of modern unknowns. It’s a music selection so uninspiring that it detracts from the fun.

PhotobucketAlso gone are the real world destinations like Pizza Hut and KFC. It’s not the biggest loss, but if Sega had to go in and tinker with the game to remove those things, they could have also spruced up the graphics a bit while they were there. The visuals are still generally sharp, as the original Dreamcast game ran at 60 fps and had some higher resolution settings. However the blurry, garish texture work, absurd pop-in, and bizarre graphical glitches are still present. Sometimes cars simply disappear right before your eyes, or a huge sky-scraper appears out of nowhere.

What happened to the Sega that put out that great, updated conversion of Virtual On: Oratorio Tangram? That was a great game to begin with, but with updated graphics and online play it became easily recommendable to newcomers. Crazy Taxi, conversely, is almost impossible to recommend to anyone but those with very fond memories of the original.

That’s a shame because if you learn the basics, it’s actually a brilliantly fun game. But even the fundamentals of boosting and drifting are made unclear by a help section that’s short and lazy. In fact, just about everything you expect out of an XBLA/PSN update is done poorly. Menus are the same loud and ugly ones from the Dreamcast version, and even the achievements are completely messed up. They don’t stack, so if you get an S-class license your first try, you’ll have to go back and purposefully do worse in order to unlock the rest of the achievements.

PhotobucketIt’s a testament to the original game that despite such a hack-job on the part of Sega, we still managed to have a ton of fun with the game. Crazy Taxi has aged surprisingly well, and it’s because there really isn’t anything like it. Yeah you have your open-world driving games and crazy arcade racers, but Burnout Paradise is probably the only other game to successfully combine the two. It’s a manic experience – intentionally sloppy – with a boost-heavy, power-sliding driving model that’s comically satisfying. In presentation (despite the terrible graphics) it hits all the right notes, giving players that aesthetic reward that only the best arcade games provide.

That said, we don’t think you should buy this version of the game unless you’re a die-hard fan who’s lost their Dreamcast copy. This is a functional port, but with re-releases like Bionic Commando and Rez available, Sega’s efforts come off like a bad joke. It shows a complete lack of respect, not just for the game, but for the fans who’ve begged for it.


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Written by Joe D

Inspired by a love for obscure Sega Saturn games in the 90s, Joe is pretty much open to anything gaming has to offer. What he looks for in a game: creativity and strong design, or sometimes just an overwhelming sense of style.

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