Game Reviews

Crazy Taxi

Star onStar onStar onStar halfStar off
| Crazy Taxi
Crazy Taxi
| Crazy Taxi

What is it about the job of the taxi driver that makes it so worthy of an arcade thrill-fest? After all, you probably wouldn't pay to play Crazy Milkman or Crazy Courier.

Perhaps it's because we've all been in a crazy taxi at some point in real life. We know the thrill of being driven by a lunatic stranger, and we kind of like it.

Or perhaps it's just because Sega's Dreamcast-era classic Crazy Taxi is an absolute blast.

Fair old rate

This is a commendably faithful conversion that nips along at a terrific lick on our third-generation iPad. Even for a 12-year-old game on modern hardware, it's impressive.

Of course, as a 12-year-old game brought to a high-def platform, the edges might look sharp but the details are a little blurry and, well, ugly by modern standards. There's also some hideous pop-up on display, especially when driving down one of the San Francisco-style hills.

We won't even mention the water effects - suffice to say you can drive underwater and the only thing that informs you of the fact is the odd blurry fish floating past your head.

No dropping off

You should all know how Crazy Taxi plays by now - especially if you've spent any time in a decent arcade over the past decade. You race through an open city in one of four cabs, picking up fares and driving them to their destinations in return for money.

The thrilling part is the speed at which all this happens. In Arcade mode you're given just a minute to rake in as much dosh as you can, with that time being extended slightly every time you drop someone off.

The driving is loose and manic, and the only penalty for ploughing into the side of a bus is the loss of a couple of seconds. In the hectic world of Crazy Taxi, that's penalty enough.

Learn to drive, moron

Control is typically arcadey - Real Racing it ain't. Going with the default touch controls you have only four buttons to worry about - 'left', 'right', 'forward', and 'back' - which is why they prove reasonably solid.

There are advanced moves to learn through a combination of these controls. A double-tap of a direction will initiate a power slide - even while stationary, which is an arcadey conceit that you'll need to master if you want to get a top grade.

Double-tapping the accelerator, meanwhile, will give your cab a speed boost, which is handy for getting off to a quick start and gaining a little extra air on jumps. Pulling off said jumps and slides will increase your tip when you drop the fare off, as will narrowly avoiding crashes.

As we said, these controls prove solid, but are irritatingly imprecise. They're fine for general navigation, but when you try to delicately weave through traffic you'll find them wholly inadequate for the task. Don't even think about using the tilt controls.

Getting you there in one piece

Fortunately, Crazy Taxi is such big dumb fun in Arcade and Original modes that such a lack of delicacy really isn't as big a problem as it would be in other games. Where it's an issue is in certain stages of the Crazy Box mode, which throws a series of specific challenges your way.

These range from landing the biggest jump possible to a series of super-tight hairpins. They're great for quick bursts of play, and they have the side-effect of teaching you how to play the main modes properly.

The only snag is the level where you have to weave in between a series of cars for points, which really showed up the limitations of the touch controls.

That'll be 7 out of 10, please

Of course, Crazy Taxi wasn't built for touchscreen platforms. But overall it does a great job of making itself at home.

We can quibble about its rudimentary gameplay, dated graphics, clumsy controls, and glitches-a-plenty all day long. Crazy Taxi clearly doesn't hold the appeal it used to have. But, ultimately, one experience told me that this iOS conversion deserves a decent score.

When it came to taking screenshots for this review, I found it incredibly tough to take my finger off the accelerator for a second and position it for the shot. Sega's classic still has that magical pull that makes you want to floor it to your next pick-up.

And with that, I'm off for some more big dumb arcade fun. Taxi!

Crazy Taxi

Crazy Taxi is big, loud and crude, and it's certainly showing its age - but this smooth conversion is still extremely difficult to put down
Jon Mundy
Jon Mundy
Jon is a consummate expert in adventure, action, and sports games. Which is just as well, as in real life he's timid, lazy, and unfit. It's amazing how these things even themselves out.