Review: Crazy Taxi for iOS recreates the crazy arcade experience, Offspring and all
We've been playing Crazy Taxi over the last dozen years, first on the Sega Dreamcast in an arcade perfect port, then on various systems, including the PS2 and GameCube (thanks to Acclaim, of all people), as well as Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network – though those ports lacked the great soundtrack by The Offspring and Bad Religion. Now the game is making a move on the portable front, as Sega recently debuted it for the App Store, with an Android version to follow soon. And you know what? For a mobile game, it's pretty damn good.
The rules that Crazy Taxi is based on are simple – get as many passengers as you can and floor it to get to their destination. It doesn't matter how many cars you wreck, how many pedestrians you send screaming out of the way, or how many roads you fly off of. The primary goal is getting them to their area, and fast. A countdown timer appears over their heads, and if you take too long, they'll actually jump out mid-ride, costing you some precious fare.
Crazy Taxi is built on quite the energetic level, and it's amazing how the iOS port holds up that level. This is a game where corners could've been cut, frame rate chopped and controls completely mucked up. But instead, Sega holds true to its arcade code and, for the most part, it's a faithful translation. The game moves at a continuous 60 frames per second, no matter what you're doing, with only a hint of slowdown depending on what's on screen. The cab's fun to watch too, especially around drifts or driving around on corners to get around traffic. (You earn more on your fare with close calls.)
What's more, Sega actually listened to the fans that were displeased with the music in the previous downloadable version of the game, and have retained the classic soundtrack as we remember it, from the opening "YA YA YA YA YA!" by the Offspring to some great songs by Bad Religion. Now if only we can get it patched back in to the other versions. The sound effects are good, and it's funny hearing how pedestrians react to your driving. ("You know what you're doing!" said a black priest with a Southern voice at one point. We kid you not.)
As for gameplay, you have two options – tilt control and touch control. Tilt doesn't really work all that well, and will tire you out over time. Touch is way better, as you can steer with ease and switch gears with the press of a button, while speeding up by holding down on one. It's a fairly good system that'll have you dropping off passengers for hours.
Along with the small city/big city options, Crazy Taxi also comes with a batch of mini-games, including the return of Crazy Bowling and Crazy Jump, two long-time favorites since they debuted on the Dreamcast. It's nice to have these around, and see what kind of score you can rack up.
There are slight problems with this port, though. Some of the details on buildings are lost with the game's speed, and there are times you'll hit something and not even see it. The leaderboards take a while to load too, though it's nice to have GameCenter suppor in the first place.
For $4.99, Crazy Taxi is an awesomely faithful port of the original, and a must for your device, provided you can do without the iffy tilt controls. (Touch is the way to go, honestly.) And it opens the door for more of Sega's arcade ports to come. What we wouldn't give to see an arcade perfect version of Sega Rally we can take on the go…