One of my favorite games from the Dreamcast age was the original CRAZY TAXI. The arcade version sucked quite a few quarters in, as it was a blast to play, and what was better than not having to pay each time you want to play? The addictive factor and giant challenge made it one of my early favorites for the ill-fated console.
Fast forward to the Xbox. After a Dreamcast sequel was received to a lukewarm reception, Sega is ready to toss out another offering of arcade driving to the hardcore taxi fans. But CRAZY TAXI 3: HIGH ROLLER is more than just a new city to play in - it also incorporates the two original games to give CRAZY TAXI fans a package they wouldn't think that they'd be able to refuse.
In CRAZY TAXI, it's a race against the clock to pick up and deliver passengers as fast as you possibly can. You're working against the clock, and you're trying to make as much money as possible in the mean time. As you pick up passengers, you gain more time, and you can gain more bonus time for a fast trip.
The first CRAZY TAXI game was set in San Francisco, the second in New York City, and the third is set in Las Vegas (the cities have been renamed to West Coast, Small Apple, and Glitter Oasis). As each game has progressed, new things have been added. For instance the Crazy Hop and the ability to pick up groups of passengers have been added as the series has progressed, so these features have been included in the original city. This lets you use new skills in your old stomping grounds. So you basically get a redesigned 1st game, the 2nd game, and a new city -- along with the mini-games that have become a staple of the series.
The biggest problem with the CRAZY TAXI series has always been that it's murder on your thumbs. To do the Crazy Dash (a key to getting good scores) you have to quickly go back and forth between the A and B buttons and your trigger finger has to push the gas in and out in a rhythm with the A/B combo. Making it more difficult is the fact that it felt to me like the Xbox timing was just different enough from the Dreamcast's to make it annoying. My hands were cramping up to no avail! Everyone kept asking me if I was making a gang sign, but it was just the cramp! Not a fun play experience.
While the cities eventually get to the point of being boring, the mini-games are constantly there to taunt you and insult your gaming skills. You can't put them down, even when your hand is throbbing from the continual motion of the Crazy Dash.
Ultimately, the Vegas city doesn't add too much new to the game, and the West Coast area is where I spent most of my time playing (thanks to the new areas you can get to with the gameplay additions). That level still shines above the other two. The mini-games are still fantastic and will demand plenty of practice and repetition to complete. So while there isn't much new for fans of the old games, new players will find much to enjoy.
Graphically the series hasn't been improved that much. I'd say as a whole, the same looks slightly better, but there are some major slowdown problems in Glitter Oasis around the neon lights. Besides the slowdown, the new city suffers from being very uninspired, and most of the time you're out in the bland desert areas. Ultimately the game doesn't look like it belongs on the Xbox, but rather the Dreamcast.
The game features 16 songs, from my personal favorite The Offspring, to others such as Bad Religion and Citizen Bird. The problem is that the music gets repetitive, and the sound effects are all stuff we've heard before. It's like playing a Dreamcast game again!
CRAZY TAXI 3: HIGH ROLLER features everything a fan could want, but if you've played through the previous two incarnates, there isn't much new here. For the uninitiated, it's probably worth picking up. Regardless, you better have a strong thumb.Questions? Comments? Let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.