Crazy Taxi for iPhone and iPad is one of the very best versions of the game that has ever been released. With the great extra modes of the home console versions, an almost perfect frame rate(on an iPhone 4S), and the brilliant original soundtrack, there is a lot to love here.
Surprisingly, I include the touch screen controls in the list of things to love in this release.
Crazy Taxi is a high score game at its heart. Driving a bright yellow taxi around a bright open world city that is themed around San Francisco, and with those classic Sega blue skies overhead, this is every inch a Sega classic. Playing against a strict time limit, you must stop by people with different coloured coins floating above them and then get them to their required destination within an even tighter time limit. Once in the cab, a giant arrow appears to tell you which way to go. The arrow is slightly odd, as it sometimes just points straight to the destination as the crow flies, and sometimes points along the correct road, although you do soon get used to its quirks and learn to predict where it is sending you.
Once you start to learn the layout of the city, the arrow becomes more of a distraction than anything else. You get paid depending on how long it took you to get the fare home, and also for performing jumps, stunts and near misses on other vehicles, although you can be deducted money for crashing too many times.
This is based on the console versions, so you can play by the original arcade rules, or by three, five and ten minute time limits. You also get an ‘Original’ mode, which is a brand new stage, amounting to a differently laid out city. The stage is decent, but doesn’t quite have the classical feel of the arcade city, although the variety it brings is most welcome.
There are four cabs and drivers to choose from(with some hidden extras to be unlocked), all with different attributes. This version also comes with the Crazy Box, which is a series of mini games to complete, such as massive jumps, popping a set amount of balloons within a time limit and even ten pin bowling. It is actually pretty compelling, finishing all the boxes and then trying to beat your scores on each one, particularly with a Game Center leaderboard for each and every challenge.
In fact, there are Game Center leaderboards for all the modes, as well as a smattering of achievements. The original local scores are also kept, and it is possible to have several score profiles locally, and there is also support for Facebook scoring, although this appears to be broken at the moment.
There are two options for control, tilt and touch. I would not recommend going anywhere near the tilt controls, as they are simply horrific, but the touch controls work really well. They can never be perfect, but they are implemented just about as well as you could ever imagine, so don’t fear that you will be playing poorly due to the controls. Double tapping the drive button when at a standstill will give you a turbo boost, which is really handy when picking up passengers, and double tapping either left or right will cause you to drift. It is a combination of these two abilities, as well as learning the best routes, that will get you the best scores. A word of extra advice- switch the vibration off in the settings, as it will drive you mad.
The fact that Sega has opted to include the original music score from Offspring is a brilliant decision, as Crazy Taxi just isn’t Crazy Taxi without it. There is a function to use your own iPod music if you so choose, however. The graphics here are super sharp with very little slowdown, although it is a shame that the pop up problems that have always plagued the game still persist here.
Overall, this is a faithful and exciting conversion that is a brilliant option to have in your pocket when you need something to dip into. The addition of all the leaderboards, two city layouts and the Crazy Box fills out the core experience nicely. This may appear lightweight when you first play it, but this is the kind of game that you will still be playing years from now. Get it.