Six pence. SIX PENCE. That's nine cents in US dollars. Does the world have no taste? I'm beside myself. One of me is going to show you a picture now which will most likely enrage you. This is what happens when you put the best game ever made up on eBay starting at a penny with no reserve. Ready? OK...
I'm not joking when I say I believe Crazy Taxi is the best game ever made. I even said so in the description. Look:
"I am not joking when I say I believe Crazy Taxi is the best videogame ever made."
Maybe I sounded mad. Maybe everyone on eBay realises the PS2 version is inferior to the Dreamcast original due to the re-recorded voices and fuzzy display. Maybe everyone thought 'For ****'s sake, it's ****ing Crazy Taxi - who gives a ****ing ****? But even an unboxed UMD of Everybody's Golf which I clearly stated was squashed and comes apart went for £1.50.
I should probably leave it there, for my pride's sake. But no, I'll tell you six reasons (one for every damn penny) why Crazy Taxi is as close as you'll get to the perfect videogame.
The scoring system is the best ever
Or at least sharing that spot with NiGHTS. Three levels of bonus cash are available depending how close you get to other road users, multiplied by a combo meter that keeps rising until you touch another car... all balanced out with a time bonus for getting to your destination on time. It's the perfect blend of risk and reward and balanced with so much elasticity of gameplay (dash for time alone and rack up score through quantity of runs or take your time to score big on fewer customers), it's faultless.
Above: A silver award for a decent-ish Crazy Through. Do better!
The control is incredibly deep
Think all you do is drive forward and steer left and right? Wrong. Your taxi has commands for drifting (to slide up to your next passenger and stop at their feet while earning more money), stopping abruptly, starting quickly, turning on the spot, boosting down straights and even a turbo reverse for those moments when you overshoot the passenger by a mile.
The city is constructed to reward your development
To start with, you'll notice you get further with each play. As you get better at controlling your taxi, the game lets you get further around the city. That's because it's essentially a circuit - a big circle that will eventually let you get round to the start again. Everyone gets to leap down the hills, but not everyone will find the passenger that wants to go to the university and start the loop again. That's for the elite.
Above: Ever noticed the complete lack of side streets? Now you know why
Crazy Box mode is genius
Adding value to the home version, you already get a whole second city to drive around. But there's also Crazy Box Mode, which acts not only as a high-score challenge you can play with your mates, but teaches you the skills that will get you further in the real game. The long-jump is custom-made for practising crazy boosts, the pole-stopping level teaches you how to use certain pieces of the environment to stop not only at the feet of your opponent but facing the right way... Then there's the bowling lane which shows you how you can still drive with pixel-precision while sliding around corners at top speed.
It's blue-sky gaming at its best
You're in an indestructible yellow cab, listening to The Offspring and Bad Religion blaring from your stereo, while driving like mad around a sun-bathed seaside town. There's even a section that looks and plays just like OutRun (and released way before OutRun 2 came along). Then there are the colourful characters you meet - the punk, the pregnant lady, the vicar... It's more of a feel-good experience than Glee.
Above: Given the chance, I'd leap into a taxi just like that. And put one hand on the wheel and the other on the door, tapping along to the music
It's the pinnacle of a lost era
Dreamcast gave us two years of sensational arcade conversions and Crazy Taxi was arguably the pinnacle of 'old' Sega. Arcade games are still fun, but look unlikely to affect home gaming in the same way ever again. As a piece of history, Crazy Taxi is a landmark and will always shine as a beacon for what happens when a company designs a game that's not only meant to be fun the first time you play it, but the one-thousandth time you play it.
Whatever you may think of Crazy Taxi, looking at the above, I'm sure you'll agree it's worth more than six freakin' pence.
05 Jul, 2010