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Patrick Hope: Party like it's 1999

Sometimes a game falls into that weird subcategory where it perfectly captures the time when it was made, and is good but not particularly great. Most games that try to play on some sort of current milieu end up being awful, like "Desert Strike: ...

Patrick Hope
Patrick Hope

Sometimes a game falls into that weird subcategory where it perfectly captures the time when it was made, and is good but not particularly great. Most games that try to play on some sort of current milieu end up being awful, like “Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf” or anything Parroty Interactive made. But today we’re looking at the game that is about the most 1999 thing in existence.
Hey, hey, it’s “Crazy Taxi!”
So “Crazy Taxi” was one of the first killer apps - if you could say such a thing existed - on the Sega Dreamcast, coming out in 2000 after a successful run in the arcade. The concept was pretty simple. You are a taxi driver. You are kind of crazy. Um, that’s pretty much “Crazy Taxi.” OK, there might be a little more than that. The core concept is about as basic as you can get. Give your passengers rides to wherever they’re going. If you get there more quickly, you get extra money. Oh, and you get points for doing totally sweet tricks along the way.
See, I told you this was about the most 1999 game out there. And the arcade source is obvious. There’s no story. There are really no goals beyond getting high scores and maybe doing some cool tricks. But “Crazy Taxi” has a lot more significance than just being some generic arcade port.
First off, “Crazy Taxi” was one of the first big open-world games, and if you want to get really specific, it’s one of the first big driving games. While the map isn’t going to make you say “wow” after more recent open world games like “Grand Theft Auto V” or any of the “Assassin’s Creed” games, there’s no small amount of charm in seeing where it kind of started, even before “Grand Theft Auto III.”
Yes, there are very few actual missions, but that’s not what kind of game this is. Just keeping delivering passengers. It’s a very love it or hate it thing.
But that’s not why a lot of people remember “Crazy Taxi.” People remember it, as stated earlier, because there are some things that really make it a time machine to 1999. The soundtrack is almost entirely composed of songs from The Offspring and Bad Religion. Now, if you really, really like “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” this is the game soundtrack for you. I know I enjoy pretending like I’m a freshman in high school all over again. Really, the only thing it would make it even better would be if they also threw in some Limp Bizkit or something.
Also, this is one of the first games that includes advertising - aside from games which were just nothing but a big ad, like “Cool Spot” or the multiple(!) Cheetos-themed Super Nintendo games.
In addition to very stereotypical gamer ads for stuff like Pizza Hut, there are some now hilariously dated references, like Tower Records and Levi’s store billboards which populate the world of “Crazy Taxi,” making me wonder how the economy of such a place really works, but that’s neither here nor there. Sadly, the ads were removed in the re-releases on modern consoles, so if you really want to experience “Crazy Taxi” as the time capsule that it is, look for one of the original versions.
“Crazy Taxi” is an odd game. You won’t likely play it for hours on end because, well, there’s just very little depth there and it can get old quickly. But there’s an undeniable charm and appeal which makes it worth picking up even today.
Hope is a local attorney and video game enthusiast. He kind of wishes all games had incredibly dated soundtracks so other generations can have the experience of feeling very old when playing them years later.

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