HIGH Hey hey, it’s Crazy Taxi…
LOW …and yet, it’s somehow lesser.
WTF I really miss hearing The Offspring go “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.”
I know I tend to start off most of my reviews by lamenting the lack of certain genres and game types that have fallen out of popularity these days. While many throwbacks revisiting those styles I’ve played lately have been excellent, I now know that I need to be careful what I wish for.
Taxi Chaos is clearly ‘inspired’ by Sega’s Crazy Taxi series. Those fan-favorite titles had players driving around an open-world area in a taxicab while picking up passengers. The goal was to reach the fare’s destination within a time limit, testing the player’s ability to memorize the map while taking advantage of shortcuts.
It was definitely a product of its time, complete with a killer soundtrack featuring popular groups like The Offspring and Bad Religion on top of sweet, sweet product placement from the likes of Pizza Hut and KFC. The energy and frenzied gameplay captured by Sega made it a touchstone of the era. Taxi Chaos knows this, and sticks close to its inspiration. Unfortunately, it’s little more than a pale imitation.
As Taxi Chaos begins, players select between two different cabbies, a male or female. They also have a selection of cabs that can be unlocked via different milestones. Then they choose from three modes.
The first is the Arcade mode. Here, players drive around an open-world city and pick up passengers to drop them off at their destinations. When fares enter the vehicle, an arrow appears over their head to direct the player where to go within a short time limit — and spoilers, this is nothing new, because it’s structured exactly like Crazy Taxi.
The driving feels fine — it’s got just enough speed and the right kind of floaty physics to make the gameplay enjoyable, and for a few short moments I remembered why I enjoyed Sega’s arcade game in the first place. I even pulled up The Offspring’s “All I Want” on my phone and started jamming while playing. Unfortunately, it was then that I realized I was putting in extra work to make Taxi Chaos feel livelier than it was since there’s no pizazz in the presentation, even with the city’s bright colors and a few lines of dialogue that made me chuckle.
The two other modes are a Pro mode and a Free Roam mode. The former plays exactly like Arcade mode, just without the directional arrows, while the latter allows players to freely drive around the map without any time limits, giving them a chance to knock out a few distance-related achievements while trying to memorize the best routes and shortcuts for the other modes.
I love a good nostalgia trip and I don’t mind a bit of pandering here and there, but Taxi Chaos takes it too far by essentially doing nothing more than replicating the game it was inspired by. Paying homage to one of the greats wouldn’t be an issue if it added its own ideas and flair, but there just isn’t much here that wasn’t already done — and done better — by Sega.
Disclosures: This game is published by GS2 Games and developed by Lion Castle. It is currently available on Switch, PS4 and XBO. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 8 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was not completed though each of three modes were played. There is no multiplayer.
Parents: According to the ESRB this game is rated E10+ for Mild Suggestive Themes and Mild Violence. The official ESRb description reads as follows: This is a racing game in which players pick up and transport passengers as quickly as possible to earn money/points. As players drive around a city picking up fares, they can barrel through various obstacles and crash into other cars. Pedestrians are sometimes seen diving out of players’ path. Some of the dialogue contains innuendo and mild suggestive humor (e.g., “His dating profile said he likes it a bit dirty”; “That backseat upholstery has memories, man”; and a joke about tattoos—“My cousin’s a fan of the Chicago Pickles. Ended up with something very suggestive on his face.”).
Colorblind Modes: There are no coloblind modes available.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: There are visual cues and subtitles. The subtitles cannot be adjusted or resized, but there are no audio-only cues. I found the game to be fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, the controls are not remappable and there is no control diagram. The right trigger is used to accelerate while the left is used to reverse. The X or Circle button is used to jump.
He has a knack for talking about movies and games he‘s passionate about. If anyone ever needs an expert on Jim Jarmusch, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Donkey Kong Country or Kanye West, he’s your guy. Don’t say we didn't warn you, though.
He can be found on Twitter and his weekly podcast, The Waypoint Set Podcast, where he manages to get some important guests before promptly talking their ears off.