iPhone App Review: Crazy Taxi

Sega has been responsible for a wide range of the classic arcade games many of us have enjoyed playing over the years, from classics such as Out Run and Sonic the Hedgehog, to lesser known titles like Space Harrier and Altered Beast. Today, consoles and handheld games machines have replaced the arcade halls as Sega’s natural habitat, which means we get to enjoy many of those games all over again.

Crazy Taxi is the latest Sega classic to reach the iPhone and the iPad, having been ported to just about every other platform you can imagine, from Sega’s own Dreamcast to the Sony PlayStation 2.

If Crazy Taxi has passed you by over the years, here’s what it’s all about. You play a taxi driver who has to ferry passengers to their destination as quickly as possible. As you’ve probably guessed from the title, you’re not expected to do drive in a safe, responsible manner, but in a way that would normally be reserved for when your hair is on fire.

Your passengers love it too, as the more dangerously you drive, the bigger your tip. Hurtling down streets, drifting around corners, jumping over handily placed car transporters, taking short cuts through parks and squeezing between two other vehicles are just some of the ways to make a bit more cash on your journey.

While your fares may accept your manic driving style, they don’t accept tardiness, meaning insane stunts shouldn’t get in the way of getting to your destination on time. The size of your payout is affected based on whether you’re fast, normal or slow to arrive. If you don’t manage to get there at all, it’s game over.

As is obvious from that description, there’s not much depth to Crazy Taxi, but who needs a plot when you’re having this much fun? Crazy Taxi has charm by the bucket load too, and it’s a perfect example of just how good Sega is at this type of addictive yet throwaway arcade game.

Upon starting the game, you’re given the choice of four different drivers and their taxis, but as there are only subtle differences between them, just go for the one with the hairstyle you like the best. You’re then launched into Crazy Taxi’s incredibly bright and colourful world, where everyone wants a ride in a crazy taxi. Pick up a punter and the route is indicated by a big green arrow at the top of the screen, which turns red when you’re just about to run out of time.

Customers are differentiated by the colour of the dollar signs above their heads, which indicates how far you’ll need to go and how big the box is in which you need to stop, with red being the easiest and green the hardest.

There’s a choice of two control systems, touch or tilt; of which touch is the best. On the right hand side of the screen you get an accelerator and a brake button, and on the left, a two-button direction control. To drift around corners, tap then hold a direction, and to do a power start, double tap the throttle as you start off. The tilt system is fine, but it suffers from feeling a little too slow to react, so you end up weaving down the road instead of driving in a straight line.

Sega and Criware have done an astonishing job converting Crazy Taxi over to iOS. It looks and plays exactly how I remember it on the PS2, right down to a choice of arcade or original versions (the only differences being in the scoring and ranking), and the fun mini games too.

It’s impossible not to love Crazy Taxi’s world, where fares range from a rockin’ punk to a vicar – both of whom are equally keen for you to go as fast as possible – and pedestrians always manage to get out of your way at the last moment, even when you’re driving on the pavement. Fans will be very pleased to hear the brilliant soundtrack has been included, along with all excellent voices and sound effects too.

The game is only let down by the control system, not that it’s terrible, but it lacks the feel players will remember from using a joystick to play the game. Drifting is also extremely frustrating, as it’s less about sliding around a corner than hurtling in to a building, out of control, as soon as you press the button. It’s a credit to the ridiculous levels of enjoyment to be had in Crazy Taxi that neither problems spoil the game.

Like many of Sega’s games, Crazy Taxi is priced higher than you may expect – £2.99 – but it’s almost certain to drop during one of the company’s many seasonal sales. It’s worth paying full price though, as it’s universal for the iPhone and the iPad, has no annoying in-app purchases, and is a cracking conversion of a thoroughly entertaining arcade game.

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