Look through my game collection and you'll find at least five copies of Mortal Kombat, Doom on assorted media, and more copies of Street Fighter II than Ryu players spam fireballs in a single round. Some games are so nice I've just got to buy them twice. Or more. The iPhone release of Crazy Taxi [$4.99] marks my fourth foray through the boulevards of Sega's imitation San Francisco, and it's still a pretty good game. Granted, the fun is still somewhat hampered by old design decisions, but Crazy Taxi feels good and whole on mobile.
If you somehow missed the arcade original or one of the multitude of ports over the last 13 years, Crazy Taxi puts you in the driver's seat of a yellow cab. Your job is to whisk your customers away to their intended destinations as speedily as possible to collect the highest fare possible, and you do that by cutting through parks, juking between cars, daring to drive left of center, and breaking every conceivable traffic law -- all to the tune of the original head-banging soundtrack.
You can boost your income in a number of ways as you smash and crash across the city. Performing stunts such as zipping between cars without so much as scuffing their paint and launching your cab off inexplicably placed ramps and buildings earns you extra cash. Some customers request closer destinations than others. The city never changes, so a few rounds of practice (and 13 years of buying the same game numerous times, in my case) should be enough to memorize profitable routes.
Crazy Taxi on iOS packs in all the content found in every other port of the game, ever. You can play arcade or original mode for specified amounts of time, or man up and earn more play time by dumping off more customers. Crazy Box mode offers sets of stunt challenges, and online leaderboards give testament to the world's most suicidal cabbies.
You control your cab using either tilt or touch controls. The touch controls are as good as virtual buttons can be. Sega pared the game down to four buttons: steer left, steer right, drive, and reverse, which doubles as the brake. I only needed a round or two to warm-up before I was swerving around trolleys with relative ease and driving into park benches -- on purpose. The tilt controls, on the other hand, are either too touchy or not touchy enough to give you the precision you need to whip around turns and slip in between traffic to earn stunt bucks.
Crazy Taxi's biggest problem is a recurring one. The navigation arrow claims to point you in the direction of your customer's destination but often mutinies, directing you down one road only to pull a 180 once you comply. The finicky arrow has plagued Crazy Taxi since its quarter-gobbling debut back in 1999, and it will leave a dent in your score until you learn to work around it.
Five bucks is a bit steep for yet another re-release, but Crazy Taxi's iPhone-sized package presents the perfect time-killer while you're waiting for a table, bustling along on the commute to work, or looking for a fun pass-and-play style game with friends. Check it out.
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