Many have said that the success of Sega's Dreamcast is tied to the quality of the company's arcade games and, ultimately, the console's ability to render those arcade games as closely as possible. Crazy Taxi is one of those arcade ports, and the Dreamcast version of the game holds up very favorably when compared with its arcade counterpart.
The game is very simple. As one of four taxi drivers, you must drive around and pick up fares. Each of your fares will present you with a destination - be it a Tower Records, Kentucky Fried Chicken, FILA store, or Levi's shop - and you'll have to get there as fast as you possibly can. Get there in a real hurry, and you'll get a time bonus. Take too long, and your fares will simply jump out of your cab, robbing you of any points they would have given you for getting them to the destination, as well as any points you might have picked up while they were in the car. Aside racking up your score by merely driving people from area A to location B, you also earn bonuses for performing combos. These combos are simple things, like weaving between cars without scratching up your car, jumping a long distance, or sliding around corners. When playing the game with the arcade rules, you must constantly pick up fares to keep your time from running out. There are also options that simply let you play for three, five, or ten minutes, giving you a slightly more relaxed game.
Aside from the arcade city, there is an all-new city in the game. The new city is a nice touch, but it's a little rough when compared with the first city. There's significantly more pop-up and slowdown in the Dreamcast-specific city. The game also has a mode called crazy box, which serves as a sort of mission-battle mode and tutorial all in one. Early missions in the crazy box are simple tasks designed to teach you the game's special moves, but later missions require absolute mastery of these moves, and can be a bit frustrating. Luckily, there's no load time between attempts, so failing isn't quite as troublesome as it would have been had you been forced to sit through a reload. The game is a bit light on options, and it would have been nice to see more modes that make you work toward a higher goal, such as car upgrades. A multiplayer option would have also been a welcome addition.The overall look of Crazy Taxi is what makes it stand out. The cars all look really great, as do the various buildings. What ties it all together is the breakneck speed of the game. The frame rate is usually smooth as silk, but it occasionally bogs down for what seems like no reason at all - independent of how many cars are onscreen or how far into the distance you can see. The game does have a bit of pop-up, but it's rarely noticeable, with the exception of one large hill on the Dreamcast-specific level. The hill has a huge hole that fills in as you approach it. The game's soundtrack is filled with songs by Bad Religion and Offspring, so depending on your personal preference you'll either want to crank the volume up or turn the music all the way down. The rest of the game's sound effects are well executed. There's a lot of speech used in the game, and most of it comes from people on the street and the people you pick up in your cab. Unfortunately, your driver's vocabulary is a little limited. The oddest cabbie phrase has to be "Shut up and move your butt," which BD Joe seems to shout out from time to time for no good reason.
While some may argue that Crazy Taxi sticks a little too close to the arcade model to have any real longevity, the replay value comes from the sheer fun of the game. The game has the same kind of universal appeal and pick-up-and-play mentality that made Tony Hawk's Pro Skater a hit on the PlayStation. As such, it's a must-buy for any Dreamcast owner.