Crazy Taxi - 1999
Picking up a passenger in the middle of a bustling city and literally scaring tips out of them is a brilliant idea for a game. The fact that your score multiplier gets set to zero if you hit anything is the genius part. The taxi’s indestructible, sure. But what about your pride? Nah, didn’t think so, punk...
Copies of the game have been known to go for as little as £0.06 on eBay. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Metropolis Street Racer - 2000
Kudos points are earned through driving like a loon, without hitting anything like a skill-less twazzock. The longer you can hold a slide, or the more sideways you get the car through a bend, the more kudos you earn. But every racer does that these days. Metropolis still has a unique element up its belt.
The game encourages you to push yourself on every challenge. It’ll give you a set time to beat, or number of cars to pass in a certain time, sure. But what if you think you could do better? You can simply up the figures until the challenge is ridiculously hardcore. Crucially, you then only get one chance at doing it right. Fail, and you lose a truck-load of kudos. Ah, but win, and you’ll walk away a winner.
Above: Sliiiiide! Looks great, feels great... pays great too if you can manage to avoid hitting the wall
Add to this a limited number of ‘joker’ cards that you can play to double up on any of the kudos you win (or lose) and you’ve got yourself a brand new gambling addiction. Hooray!
Interestingly, early screens of the game show buses and other cars on the road - something that was taken out long before the game hit store shelves (as was the replay mode - boo!). We’ll never know how much that would’ve changed the game - or the entire Project Gotham series, for that matter, but it’s probably safest that we’ll never know. After all, we soon had...
Burnout 2 - 2002
These days, the game actively encourages you not only to drive as fast as you can around busy streets, but rewards you with extra speed if you do stupid things. For instance, driving along in the oncoming side of the road, while the civvy cars leave scared little oil slicks in their wakes. There’s even a crash mode, where you get judged on how many cars you can get involved in an accident by driving full-pelt into a busy junction. Madness.
Best of all, the tracks are designed so that you only ever have to use the brake to get the back end of the car to step out around long turns. There’s no such thing as ‘slowing down for a tight corner’. Slowing down is for wusses. Just hold tight, and scream if you wanna go faster...