Released: 1999 (arcade), 2000 (Dreamcast), 2010 (PlayStation Network/XBox Live Arcade)
Version Reviewed: PlayStation Network
|Crazy Taxi's no nonsense title screen. Taken through my camera, hence the crappy quality.|
And now the negatives, and although these seem mostly cosmetic and superficial, they actually make a great difference. Many people complain about in-game advertising nowadays, but in the original Crazy Taxi, advertising was implemented brilliantly. Some of the destinations in the game were real world places: KFC, Pizza Hut, Fila, Tower Records, etc. Because of licensing issues, these locations have now been replaced by generic locations. For example, KFC is now Fried Chicken Shack, Pizza Hut is now something else. The buildings clearly look like KFCs and Pizza Huts, but with different names. They look a bit like when companies go out of business and a no-name buyer purchases the building but just changes its name and signage and attempts to cash in on the previous owner's brand image - a bit like how loads of old Woolworths stores reopened with names like Wellworths and Alworths and just appear to be a budget, knock-off versions of the original, using loads of the old furnishings as they can't afford to renovate the stores. Going into them feels weird. These new stores feel like they've sucked the life out of what the stores used to be. And the city in Crazy Taxi kind of feels the same. It's as if its been hit hard by the recession and been taken over by cheapo pound shops and nasty takeaways. It just doesn't feel like the vibrant, living city that it was years ago. The well-known brand names gave the city some personality, which the city now lacks.
Also related to licensing issues (in other words, Sega not wanting to spend lots of money) is the change in soundtrack. The original Crazy Taxi featured music from The Offspring and Bad Religion, and this contributed massively to the appeal of the game. The choice of music was a perfect match for it. Music, more than anything else, evokes memories, apparently. You hear a tune, and you instantly associate it with something; you visualise an event or recall an era. Something seems wrong when you begin your game and don't hear the familar "yeah yeah yeah yeah" from the start of The Offspring's All I Want. Instead you're treated to generic pop punk tunes. Although the music is clearly similar in style and isn't terrible, it just doesn't feel right. In a game like Crazy Taxi, where the music was such an integral part of it, changing it takes a lot of the game's appeal out of it.
Of course, the complaints above are just the whinges of a thirty-something who isn't happy that a game isn't how he remembers it. It's a bit like when you go back to your old school or into an old workplace and see that things have changed. Your instant thought is, "It was better when I was here," despite this probably not being the case. And I think that's the effect that the PSN version of Crazy Taxi has had on me. I've allowed some cosmetic changes to affect my overall opinion of the game (wooooh! I managed to get effect and affect the right way round!). It can't be denied that Crazy Taxi is definitely a fun game and still has the classic easy to play, hard to master qualities that made it a hit first time round. For people downloading it for a blast from the past, they may be disappointed as some of the past has been left behind. For those new to the game, the changes won't really bother you and at £7.99, Crazy Taxi represents quite good value for money.