Crazy Taxi is an open world racing video game developed by Kenji Kanno and his team at Hitmaker and published by Sega. It is the first game in the Crazy Taxi series. The game was first released in arcades in 1999 and then was ported to the Dreamcast in 2000. Gameplay is based on picking up taxi customers, and driving to their destination as quickly as possible. Reception to Crazy Taxi has been mostly positive. It was ported to other platforms numerous times, including the PlayStation 2 and Nintendo GameCube by Acclaim in 2001, and then Microsoft Windows in 2002. The game has also been re-released for the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, iOS, and is featured on the Dreamcast Collection. It became one of the few Sega All Stars on the Dreamcast, and also earned Greatest Hits and Player’s Choice status on PlayStation 2 and GameCube respectively. Sega followed up on the success of Crazy Taxi with numerous sequels, the first being Crazy Taxi 2 for the Dreamcast, which included several gameplay changes.
The main objective of the game is to pick up customers and take them to their chosen destination as quickly as possible. Along the way, money can be earned by performing stunts such as near misses with other vehicles. The player is directed to a destination by a large green arrow at the top of the screen. The arrow does not adjust based on obstacles, but rather points in the general direction of the destination. Once the player arrives near the destination, they must stop within a specified zone. When the destination is reached, that customer’s fare is added to the player’s total money earned. Ratings are then awarded depending on how long the player took to complete the journey. If the customer’s timer runs out before the player reaches the destination the customer jumps from the taxi without paying the driver.
Players can select three-, five- or ten-minute settings, or the Arcade Rules used in the original coin-op version of the game. 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 one minute, which can be extended through time bonuses earned for quick deliveries. Console versions of the game also feature a mode known as Crazy Box, a set of minigames that feature challenges such as picking up and dropping off a number of customers within a time limit, bowling using the taxi as a ball, and popping giant balloons in a field.
The arcade version of the game includes one stage, and an additional “Original” stage was added for the console versions. Both stages are based in sunny coastal California locales, with steep hills and other strong similarities to San Francisco. The player has a choice of four drivers and their cabs, each of whom has slightly different attributes.
Crazy Taxi‘s success prompted Sega to produce multiple sequels. In 2001, Crazy Taxi 2 was released, followed by Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller in 2002. THQ would publish the Graphic State Games developed Crazy Taxi: Catch a Ride in 2003, the only title for the Game Boy Advance. Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars, a compilation of Crazy Taxi and Crazy Taxi 2 was released in 2007 for the PlayStation Portable. A mobile-exclusive entry to the series, titled Crazy Taxi: City Rush, was released on the iOS and Google Play app stores in 2014.
Crazy Taxi and its sequels have also prompted several games which clone its core gameplay. The Simpsons: Road Rage was the first of these titles, released in 2001. In 2003, Sega filed a lawsuit against Fox Interactive, Electronic Arts, and Radical Entertainment. Sega claimed that the game was a patent infringement of Crazy Taxi. The case, Sega of America, Inc. v. Fox Interactive, et al., was settled in private for an undisclosed amount. The poorly received Emergency Mayhem for the Wii utilizes the same core gameplay of the Crazy Taxi series, but adds additional elements in regards to driving emergency response vehicles.
Richard Donner was attached to a live-action version of Crazy Taxi, but eventually bailed out on the project. However, talk of a big or small screen version of Crazy Taxi has been renewed, as Sega optioned the film and TV rights to its library.