Crazy Taxi (クレイジータクシー) is a video game developed by Sega AM3 and published by Sega for Sega NAOMI arcade hardware in 1999. It is a non-linear action/game, in which players drive a taxi across a stage inspired by San Francisco, picking up customers and ferrying them to destinations in the fastest possible time. It builds on previous experiments with this genre such as Harley-Davidson & L.A. Riders.
This game was subsequently ported to the many consoles. And it stands as one of the more iconic and successful Sega franchises of the late 1990s and early 2000s, spawning several sequels, tie-ins and re-releases.
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The main objective of the game is to pick up customers and take them to their chosen destination as fast as possible. Along the way, money can be earned (the game is primarily a score attack title) by performing outrageous stunts such as the "Crazy Through" (near-misses with other vehicles; both risk and reward are higher when driving against the flow of traffic) and "Crazy Drift" (extended, barely-controlled skidding).
When the destination is reached, that customer's fare is added to the player's total money earned, while "Speedy", "Normal" or "Slow" ratings are awarded depending on how long the player took to complete the journey. If the player is too slow in reaching the objective and the customer's timer runs out, a "Bad" rating is given before even reaching the destination, and the customer jumps from the taxi. There is no penalty for a "Bad" rating, but time will have been wasted attempting to deliver this customer. However, there is often sufficient time available on the main clock for the player to pick up another passenger with hope to make up for their loss. On the arcade version, if a player earns a "Bad" rating, the next fare starts at $0.00.
For each level, one can play under different time conditions: three-minute, five-minute or ten-minute settings, or the "Arcade Rules" used in the original coin-op version of the game but which was also included in the home versions. In the three time-limited settings, play continues for the designated period of time, after which the cab automatically stops and no more points can be scored.
Under Arcade Rules, the player starts with an initial time limit of around a minute (although in this first Crazy Taxi game it can be changed in the options screen), which can be extended through time bonuses earned for "Speedy" and "Normal" deliveries, as well as by making good use of whatever time is left over after making a delivery. Expert players, able to memorise the best route from pick-up to delivery, can thus continue playing for long periods of time - however, as time goes on, the "best" passengers will have been taken to their destinations, leaving fewer potential customers remaining, so as the game continues the challenge increases.
The player has a choice of four drivers and their cabs, each of whom has slightly different attributes: Axel is the well-balanced cab choice, BD Joe has the fastest floored speed but worst controlling, Gena has the best acceleration/deceleration and braking and Gus has the heaviest cab, enabling him to drive well off-road and even onto most oncoming traffic.
The arcade version of the game includes one level, and an additional "original" stage was added for the console versions. Both are based in sunny coastal California locales, with steep hills and other strong similarities to San Francisco (possibly due to the fact that Sega's American headquarters are located in San Francisco). North of the map, past the baseball stadium, a high rise city can be found for further adventure.
The game features fast arcade-style gameplay, along with a variety of cab 'stunts'. The first stunt is the Crazy Dash, a forward burst of speed that can be pulled off in succession. To trigger the burst, the player must shift into 'drive' and directly follow it with the 'accelerate' button. The rear of the car is forced down somewhat, lifting the front end. For multiple dashes, hit 'reverse' and then again 'drive' immediately followed by 'accelerate' (known as the Limit Cut).
A variation called the "Crazy Backdash" involves performing a Crazy Dash and then shifting into reverse, so that the car reverses with a burst of speed. A side-effect of these three tricks is that the car gains massive traction and limited steering, which can be exploited by players to more easily weave in and out of traffic. It can also be exploited to do a "Crazy Stop", where after a Crazy Dash the brakes are applied and reverse gear engaged, causing the car to stop almost instantly. This causes the rear of the car to lift up, as if front wheel braking is applied.
Another stunt is the Crazy Drift. This is accomplished by quickly hitting 'reverse' and then 'drive' while making a sharp turn. A final, position-specific stunt is the Crazy Jump, which goes off automatically if the player goes off ramps or other sudden inclines.
Despite being violently thrown around and not seemingly strapped into the taxi in any visible way, passengers are usually appreciative of stunts and reward the player with bonus fares upon successful execution (i.e. not hitting anything). Mastery of stunts is essential for attaining high scores in the game.
Console versions of the game also feature the "Crazy Box", a set of minigames that features challenges such as stopping by hitting a pole, picking up and dropping off a number customers within time limits, bowling using the taxi as a ball, and popping giant balloons in a field.
In "Crazy Box" mode, newer challenges can be unlocked by clearing three horizontal or vertical rows. Among these 'unlockables' is a minigame where the player must drive through the winding lanes designed like bowling alleys, knocking down 'pins' as they drive. The player is awarded points for each knockdown, and Grand Slams for a 'strike'.
1-1 Crazy Jump
1-2 Crazy Flag
1-3 Crazy Balloons
1-S Crazy Bowling
2-1 Crazy Drift
2-2 Crazy Turn
2-3 Crazy Bound
2-S Crazy Zigzag
3-1 Crazy Rush
3-2 Crazy Jam
3-3 Crazy Pole
3-S Crazy Zigzag 2
S-1 Crazy Through
S-2 Crazy Parking
S-3 Crazy Party
S-S Crazy Attack
One of the game's iconic features is the soundtrack performed by artists such as Bad Religion and The Offspring on the original version of the game. In some cases when it was brought to other platforms, the soundtrack was changed to reflect the game's release in modern iterations and to avoid paying potentially expensive licenses.
Every subsequent conversion based on the Sega Dreamcast version. In addition to the main game, there is also an additional environment called Original Mode as well as a Crazy Box mode full of mini game challenges. There is also an ability to play either Arcade Mode or Original Mode with a fixed time limit which does not offer time bonuses. Instead allows to play for three, five or ten minutes. However records are only recorded if the game is played by Arcade rules.
In its original form, many of the destinations in Crazy Taxi were fictional outlets and restaurants of real-life chains, including KFC, Pizza Hut, Tower Records, (The Original) Levi's (Store) and Fila. While present in the NAOMI, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2 and GameCube versions, from the PC version onwards, these venues were replaced with fictionalised chains.
Most of the changes occurred in the PC version of the game, and were carried through to the XBLA and PSN ports. KFC became "FCS", or "Fried Chicken Shack", Pizza Hut became "Pizza Parlour", Tower Records became "Record Store" (with a new colour scheme), Levi's became XXX and Fila became YYY.
special thanks to: Domani Ltd., FILA, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Levi Strauss & Co., Pizza Hut, Tower Records (MTS Inc.), NAOMI-library team, Ryo Uchida, Naoyuki Machida, Kazuhiro Matumoto, Lei Ohyamada, Kaori Fukano, &, of course, you
Vice President of Creative and Marketing Mark Meadows
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