We all remember Crazy Taxi, one of the most popular Sega arcade games from the early 2000s and the one that defined the taxi simulation genre. But that was almost 20 years ago...
Since Feb. 23, console owners can be reckless taxi drivers in Taxi Chaos, a new indie title trying to revive the Crazy Taxi spirit by bringing some new ideas to the table. Keep reading to find out what we have to say about it!
A Cheap Ride
The taxi-driving formula really works, and that's why Sega published 3 Crazy Taxi games in 4 years, which probably made people feel overwhelmed and quickly lose interest. Now, however, nostalgia plays a big role, and so we all were looking forward to the release of Taxi Chaos. We knew it was going to be an indie project, and we knew it was going to be a hit or miss. Well, now that we tried it, we're not sure how to feel about this game, but we do know that Sega could —and should—be taking notes...
In Taxi Chaos, there are 3 game modes. In all of them, your goal is to roam through New Yellow City looking for faires and taking them to their destination before the time runs out. If you play Arcade Mode, there's a floating (sometimes unreliable) arrow telling you where to go, while in Pro Mode, you must trust your memory and instincts. Freeroam Mode is the same as Arcade Mode, but there's no time limit, so you can take your time to explore the city and visit its landmarks to improve your records in Pro Mode. If you ask us, it's better to play Freeroam and then jump into Pro Mode, ignoring Arcade; this is because the overall timer makes no sense and you only get a few extra seconds per new customer, so you'll end up losing anyways, even if your passenger timer has a minute to go.
One of the things Taxi Chaos incorporates, other than a small yet varied selection of cabs, is a set of questlines tied to unique customers you can pick up in NYC. Once you find them, several collectible items will appear in the city, adding something else for you to do. This would have been great if these characters were interesting and collecting these random items was actually fun... but truth be told, we couldn't care less about this poorly implemented mechanic.
Although we like the grid-like layout of New Yellow City, it feels somewhat shallow and boring, maybe because of the lack of slopes and unevenness. In fact, "shallow and boring" is a description we could totally use for the whole game, as Taxi Chaos' only disruptive mechanics are dashing and jumping (similar to the Crazy Hop and Crazy Dash introduced in Crazy Taxi 2, back in 2001). Sure, sometimes jumping helps you find shortcuts, and combos are necessary for better scores, but we can't count it as a novelty. Oh, and most of the time, jumping will lead to you glitching out of the map or clipping.
Taxi Chaos is a buggy mess, at least the Switch version. Flickering cars, customers who don't jump into your taxi despite being parked at the circled area... that and the blurry, unpolished graphics make this game a tough love. It could be fun or infuriating, but it's hard to find the will to keep playing it after a short session. Even worse, unlocking all cars is too easy you can do it in a couple hours without going out of your way, so unless you like online rankings, there's nothing to look forward to after your first day playing.
How about adding unlockable drivers, even more cars, or new maps? Well, after fixing all the bugs and blurry textures, that is...
All We Want is a Better Soundtrack
Okay, Taxi Chaos looks rough, its characters are forgettable at best, and it's too easy. Also, the only available map is not large or complex enough, and there are no minigames or multiplayer modes. Oh yeah, and they could have implemented secret customers to make jumping through the roofs more appealing, giving New Yellow City verticality. Still, there's something that bothers us even more: Taxi Chaos' soundtrack and voice acting.
It may have been 20 years, but we all still remember Crazy Taxi's narrator inviting us to make some crazy money, or The Offspring's vocalist Dexter Holland screaming "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!" in their hit song 'All I Want.' In Taxi Chaos, however, music is lackluster and easy to forget, and don't get us started on the horrific voice acting.
Honestly, we weren't expecting cool licensed songs, but we also weren't expecting these generic tracks. As for the voice acting, we don't know how the developers could have overlooked such off-putting deliveries—look, if you are hailing a taxi, do it with enthusiasm and not as if you are about to pass out, especially if you're part of a taxi-centric game. Did they really pay these actors for such poor performances?!
For what it's worth, Taxi Chaos is nothing but a cheap Crazy Taxi knock-off that will last you a couple of days. It wouldn't be fair to say it's a bad game, and some people will definitely enjoy going back to the arcade days, but we must warn you about everything wrong with this game. If you can, avoid the Switch variant and go for the PS4 or Xbox One version!
Thank goodness arcade emulators exist...