Acclaim publishing Crazy Taxi for the PlayStation 2 was a bit of an event. The rumors about Acclaim's involvement with Sega's properties and them being brought from the DC to the PS2 had been flying around for quite some time, and it was interesting to see them come true. The resulting PS2 version of Crazy Taxi didn't do anything differently than the Dreamcast did, wasting the system's purported power. Now, Acclaim has gotten involved in an even grosser misuse of hardware by bringing Sega's 2-year-old arcade taxi game to Nintendo's new GameCube. The quick-and-dirty port does everything the DC and PS2 releases did--meaning it looks good for a Dreamcast game but pretty awful when compared with anything else released on the GameCube so far. The fact that Acclaim needlessly changed a lot of the original's great voicework over to dull, lifeless line readers definitely doesn't help either.
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. In addition to racking up points by merely driving people from area A to location B, you can 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 10 minutes, giving you a slightly more relaxed game.
Aside from the arcade city, the game contains an original level, which was also included in the Dreamcast and PS2 versions. The new city is a nice touch, but it lacks the polish that makes the arcade city so nice. 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 they can be a bit frustrating. 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, like 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 nice and smooth, but the game does have a bit of pop-up, not only in the terrain but also in oncoming traffic, making the game a bit more difficult. The game's soundtrack contains 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 B.D. Joe seems to shout out from time to time for no good reason. The GameCube version's disgustingly homogenized voicework makes these odd lines sound even more ridiculous.
The GameCube version of Crazy Taxi looks about on par with the Dreamcast release. Considering that the DC version of the game is around two years old and appeared on significantly less powerful hardware, that's hardly a good thing. The game maintains a decent framerate, but still has some pretty blatant pop-up, especially in the game's original mode. The taxis look decent, but the surrounding environments are a muddy mess of poorly-defined textures. Characters are low in polygon count and animate poorly when running to and from your cab. On the presentation side, the game leaves you with a feeling that Acclaim simply wanted to squeeze the game out the door as quickly as possible in hopes of cashing in on the GameCube's launch hysteria.
Crazy Taxi was a fun game two years ago. Today, however, the GameCube version serves little purpose other than to give a solid modern example of "shovelware." Sega's Dreamcast legacy deserves better.