Crazy Taxi

Crazy Taxi

Retro Coin Op Synopsis

Bad drivers make good games, and Sega’s Crazy Taxi had some of the worst: B.D. Joe, Axel, Gena and Gus. These four dangerous cabbies helped turn the driving simulation world on its ear, creating an instant arcade classic.

Before Crazy Taxi, most driving simulators followed the same general pattern: race other cars through a series of checkpoints, get bonus time if you make it in before the clock expires. A few games offered diverging tracks and other twists, but the formula remained largely the same. Crazy Taxi kept the clock, but left everything else in its dust as it sped away on a free-form, insane tangent.

The game’s concept was so simple, it’s surprising no one thought of it before: Your taxi driver character drove around town, picked up fares standing in large green, yellow or red circles, then transported them to their destination—the harbor, a cable car stop, Tower Records, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. If the concept was simple, the execution was anything but. Time was literally money in the crazy taxi business, and the faster you got your fares to their destination, the bigger your bonus. Not only that, but extra time was awarded based on your speed and creativity in getting your fares from point “a” to point “b.”

Since speed was a priority, normal traffic laws and good old common sense took a back seat. Green arrows pointed the proper way to your destination, but if speeding, cutting across sidewalks and pedestrian malls, driving the wrong way down a one-way street or even jumping over buildings got your customers there faster, then so be it. Pedestrians might have screamed and hurled insults, but they knew how to get out of the way if their lives depended on it.

Making your cabbie’s life even tougher, these fares weren’t the friendliest or most patient souls in town, and they had no desire to stay in your cab any longer than they had to. If you botched up the job—crashing into obstacles or other cars, taking the wrong course or simply moving too slowly—they were likely to hop out, leaving you with little cash to show for your efforts.

Once time ran out, your shift was up, and a license was given to your cabbie based on the number of customers delivered and amount of cash earned. Licenses E (worst) through A (best) were standard issue, but especially high scores were awarded a “Class S License,” “AWESOME! License” or “CRAZY! License,” any one of which earned the right to watch a special ending, including replays of your most impressive driving feats.

Crazy Taxi’s revolutionary gameplay was enhanced by its technical features. The gas and brake pedals each contained potentiometers, which reacted to the amount of force applied by your foot. In the sound department, the usual effects and speech samples were accompanied by tunes from real-life hardcore bands like The Offspring and Bad Religion. And as a further enticement to continued gameplay, Crazy Taxi featured a handful of hidden fares, which enabled expert drivers to explore entire new areas of the big city.

All of these extras were merely the gravy on Crazy Taxi’s already tasty main course. The game was a breakout hit in arcades, winning praise from reviewers and other game-lovers. Sega converted the title to a handful of home systems over the next few years, allowing bad drivers and future bad drivers everywhere a new chance to hone their dangerous and illegal skills.

Arcade Machine Release History

1999 - Crazy Taxi

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