We’re at episode 3 of SEGA Sequel Saturdays, and for this go-round, I’m taking a look at Crazy Taxi, a series that many SEGA fans (especially those old enough to have been to something called an “arcade,”) have fond memories of. Though the home console ports got old for me after about a weekend, there’s just something about the first entry in this series (I never really got into the other two) that screams “SEGA!” and it’s a series I’d love to see brought back, though only if it really expands upon what the earlier entries offered.
Yup. Take a listen. That’s Crazy Taxi. It’s an interesting series, I’ll put it that way. As an arcade game, it was nearly perfect, providing a short, but adrenaline-pumping burst of fun. Even better was the fact that the game was designed to reward good players: the better you did, the more time was added to the clock. It’s a pretty genius idea, actually, giving you incentive to return to the arcade cabinet often so you’d get better, and in turn, you’d get to experience longer play sessions for your money.
The console ports, on the other hand, are a different story. Granted, I still occasionally boot up my good old Dreamcast copy of Crazy Taxi for some nostalgic fun, but I distinctly remember the feeling of, back in 1999, “wow, this is it?” after about the second time I turned it on.
Now….hold on, Crazy Taxi fans. I really do think that Crazy Taxi’s gameplay is fun and I definitely believe that it demonstrates pretty brilliant arcade game design. …That’s the thing: we’re dealing with an incredibly fun gameplay experience that desperately needs a game to be built around it. Though Simpsons: Hit and Run may not have been considered a classic, it actually did a great job of taking the Crazy Taxi formula and putting it into an actual game. Once you did well enough in one level (a portion of Springfield), you’d unlock another level, which was a different part of the city, and so on. This brought to the table a feeling of progression, something I think Crazy Taxi could use.
[The Simpsons Road Rage was a definite copy, but it sort of had the right idea.]
Crazy Taxi 4, if it were to happen, should feature this type of progression. I actually have two different ideas here, each of which I think could work. Idea number 1 would have the game broken up into levels. Each “level,” would be the same size as the Arcade Mode from the first Crazy Taxi, so you wouldn’t be losing anything. The difference is that you’d have more to play: when you’d complete a level, (successfully, with a good rating) you would then unlock the next level and get to go to a totally different area of the city. You would have the ability to go back and play any unlocked levels to your heart’s content, or, you could even opt to combine all of your unlocked parts of the city into one massive level.
My other idea would be a sort of world tour campaign, where you’d play as cabbies in different cities around the world, which would also feature level-to-level progression. Either way, that’s one thing I’d definitely change first in Crazy Taxi. As an arcade game, it was perfect. As a console game, though, it always needed more, especially for a $50-$60 price tag, and I think a sense of progression, in other words, a “campaign” to complete, would do the trick.
Aside from the main single player mode, there would also be competitive multiplayer (online and offline) and the usual Crazy Box-style mini-games.
The music department would also see a switching up. The soundtrack itself would have much more variety than past games in the series. I love a lot of stuff from The Offspring and Bad Religion, but the Offspring songs picked for Crazy Taxi 2 and Crazy Taxi 3 were awful for a video game soundtrack; the developers need to allow a wider roster of tracks. In my Crazy Taxi 4, you’d also have the ability to use custom soundtracks, though I’d still shoot for great default tunes. It’s hard to get over the wonderful nostalgia of something like Bad Religion’s Them and Us, but for a new game, I think it’s time to branch out in the audio department. Sega’s always been cheap with this, choosing in the past to go with only a handful of songs, which is understandable, since Crazy Taxi has its roots as an arcade game meant for short bursts of play. Since I recommend more of a focus on fleshing out Crazy Taxi 4 as a console game, however, I’d say they’d definitely need to provide at least 10 songs in the roster for this to work, similar to how Activision handled the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series.
Honestly, I think that’s all a Crazy Taxi sequel would need. The core gameplay is solid, and always has been. This is top-notch arcade game design, and it’s a real tribute to this that it still plays well today. The powerups added to Crazy Taxi 2 and 3 always seemed gimmicky to me, but if SEGA could come up with some cool new ones, I’d be all for it. All a Crazy Taxi 4 would need to make it a worthwhile $50-$60 purchase for me would be a good campaign mode and bigger soundtrack. Why design just one or two levels if you can create several? A Crazy Taxi game designed with consoles in mind instead of the arcades would be exactly what SEGA would need to do to bring this series to the next generation.
Systems: Wii, PS3, 360, Arcade, 3DS, NGP
Thoughts? Approval? Criticism? “STFU nSega, you Crazy Taxi hater”? As always, leave ’em in the comments section below.Ad: