Crazy Taxi Review

Screenshot of a taxi flying through the sky in Crazy Taxi
I'm want to fly like an eagle...

Quick Info
Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
Developer: SEGA
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: 5 Mar 2011
Time played: 1.2 hours

It All Started at the Arcades

My first experience with Crazy Taxi was at the arcades which is the game's original platform. Released in 1999, the game was a huge success along with the Sega Dreamcast version which was released in 2000. In the game, you take the role of a taxi driver, picking up passengers and transporting them to places they want to go in as little time as possible. Sounds pretty normal so far, right? Well, the reason it's called Crazy Taxi is because if you perform near misses with traffic or manage to get your taxi flying in the air for any period of time, you'll be awarded extra cash. The goal of the arcade version of the game is to service as many passengers as possible and earn lots of cash from fares in the process. You're only granted a limited number of seconds to drive around but you can be awarded with additional time if you transport passengers to their destinations quickly.

The Sega Dreamcast was short-lived, being discontinued in 2001. Sega exited the console market and focused on software development and publishing instead. It wasn't until 10 years later that a compilation of Dreamcast games made its way to Xbox 360 and Windows. This compilation called the Dreamcast Collection includes several games, one of them being the Dreamcast port of Crazy Taxi. On Steam, Crazy Taxi currently holds a "Very Positive" rating with 87% of the 1,983 user reviews rating it positively.

The reason I finally gave the game a go was after having a discussion on the Whirlpool Forums about my Pile of Shame, one user recommended I try out Crazy Taxi. They said the game was "a foundational game" for them and one they hold in "high regard". It also has the benefit of being a game where you can "cross it off in an afternoon". They were completely right in this regard as I only needed to play it for about an hour before I was ready to review it. So, is the game as good as Steam users and this Whirlpool user seem to suggest? Or is this game better left in the past?

Screenshot of a speedy delivery of a passenger in Crazy Taxi
Getting your passengers to their destination quickly will reward you with extra time

It's Got the Early 2000s Vibe

When I first setup the game, it was good to see that the re-release took into account modern computers as I was able to run the game at the native resolution of my monitor (1920x1080). However, the graphics of the game, while serviceable, feature the ugly, low-poly, blurry texture models that were commonplace in games from the early 2000s. In fact, the music in the game is straight from that era too, featuring some neat punk rock tracks although not by The Offspring or Bad Religion who featured in the original versions. So, for better or worse, the game has definitely got that early 2000s vibe. But what of the gameplay?

Screenshot of B.D. Joe from the taxi selection screen in Crazy Taxi
There are four taxis and their drivers to choose from

Easy to Pick Up

You have three game modes available to you in this version of the game: the original Arcade mode, the not-original Original mode (I know, it's confusing) and Crazy Box mode. Gameplay in both the Arcade and Original mode is similar (unless you decide to give yourself a few more minutes) and the only difference is that you'll be driving around different maps. In Arcade mode the city is smaller than in Original mode so once you've figured out the general layout, it's apparently less of a challenge than Original mode. The Crazy Box mode offers a bunch of challenges you can try like bursting balloons or having your car jump between islands before the time runs out. While I found these to be a welcome addition, you'll need to be a pro with the game before you attempt some of them. In order to get acceleration boosts or initiating handbrake turns, this requires perfect timing when it comes to switching gears between Drive and Reverse - something I failed to master.

I found the game to be mildly entertaining. Despite not knowing all the tricks there is to know in this game, I was able to earn a B ranking while playing Arcade mode and it's the usual story of practice makes perfect. Each time you play the game you seem to get the same customers asking you to go to the same locations (or at least very similar customers and locations) so if you drive down the same routes over and over, you're bound to get better. While it feels good to improve on your score each time you play the game, it also feels quite restrictive. I mean, technically the game is an open world and you can go anywhere you want and pick up any customer you like, but there is an optimal route and if you don't take it, you're not going to get that high score (which is generally the whole point of arcade games).

Screenshot of taxi driving around in a Crazy Box mini-game
Crazy Box offers mini-games like this one where you have to jump between islands


For better or worse, Crazy Taxi is a relic of the early 2000s thanks to its low-poly visuals and punk rock soundtrack. It's easy enough to learn the basics in this game but there are some tricks that can give you the edge (although they are harder to pull off). The game is fun for the first few goes but after that, mileage will vary (mind the pun). If you're into arcade driving games and don't mind playing a game over and over, hunting for a high score, this game should suit. If, on the other hand, that sounds incredibly boring, you might want to give this one a miss.

If you like this game, you might like…