A Quick Look At Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire (iOS)

No, this isn't a Dreamcast game as such - it's a mobile game set in the world of Crazy Taxi, wherein the sole aim is to make as much money as possible and run a taxi empire that spans the entire city. That doesn't sound too far removed from the premise presented in the original series of Crazy Taxi titles, but Gazillionaire is something of a diversion from the usual chaotic driving, instead assuming the form of a top-down clicker with some light strategy elements. Once again, this is a quick look at the recently released iOS version of Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire so if you're not interested in non-Dreamcast stuff, you can probably stop reading now. If on the other hand you've seen this advertised on your app store of choice and are intrigued...then read on!
Unusually for a Crazy Taxi game, there is a storyline in Gazillionare that is slightly more involving than 'pick up that dude and take him to KFC as fast as possible,' although that's not to say there's anything wrong with that type of fast and loose narrative. A game like Crazy Taxi is pretty much perfection in the grand scheme of arcade thrills, so anything more than 'get from here to there by any means' is always going to seem a bit superfluous. Imagine you had to do The Knowledge before starting the game and had to take your taxi for constant safety checks and services? No thanks. That said, Gazillionaire's new setting doesn't feel too shoehorned in and also gives you an antagonist to battle that isn't simply an ever-ticking clock.
In Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire you assume the role of a nameless taxi firm owner and must try to keep the lights on and the city's passengers happy, all while being pressured out of business by the evil Prestige Megacorporation. Prestige has the added bonus of being able to offer luxurious and super-comfortable taxi travel to those who can afford it and is stealing the business of the small time taxi firm you run so it's up to you to hire the best and fastest cabbies around to take the battle to Prestige. Is this a thinly veiled social commentary on the whole Uber thing? It wouldn't surprise me to be honest.

Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is probably about as far removed from the Crazy Taxi we know and love as you could possibly get, both in terms of it having a story and also the gameplay style. But is that a bad thing? Actually, no it isn't because as far as mobile games of this type go, it's pretty good fun and fairly faithful to the series' roots in terms of aesthetics. Making crazy money is the aim of the game, and that has never been a bad thing.


As stated, this is a top down clicker style game, so don't expect to be doing any Crazy Box missions or launching your cab over rooftops from the familiar third person viewpoint. No, you have a static playing angle from somewhere above the city streets and when icons representing customers appear on the map, you tap them with your finger. The nearest taxi in your fleet will then zip towards them, pick the customer up and then automatically drive them (in a suitable crazy manner, naturally) to their destination. Tips are earned en route and stunts can be activated by tapping on certain icons that appear in various places around the city. Over time, you get to hire new drivers (in a nice touch, most of the original cast of Crazy Taxi proper are here, along with some new additions) and expand your fleet; meaning you can have multiple taxis driving all of the city at once, picking up customers, doing stunts, collecting multipliers and - ultimately - adding fares to the bank balance. Over time, as you add new drivers, you'll also unlock new areas to base your operation in and these can be switched between on the fly. You can only have certain drivers working in the areas they are bespoke to though, probably to avoid the game grinding to a halt as the 60 unlockable taxis all vie for fares in the space of one tiny environment.
Every now and then, certain mission objectives must be met in order to advance - things like upgrading cabs to a certain level or collecting a certain number of passengers - nothing too taxing. These open up yet more objectives and also reward you with extra cash and jewels. The jewels are important because they allow you to increase the level of your drivers and also unlock scratch cards that further furnish you with bonuses. And so the game continues seemingly continuously (even when you close the app) until the world is destroyed by an intergalactic battle fleet in the year 3857. Probably. Joking aside, this is actually something to be aware of if you're playing on a mobile phone rather than a tablet or iPad, as the game does continue to run in the background when you close it. Whether it uses any mobile data I'm unable to ascertain because it doesn't show up in the 'background app refresh' menu in iOS, nor does it show in the 'mobile data' menu. What I'm pretty confident about though, is that if you leave Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire running in the background it is likely to have an affect on battery charge, so keep that in mind.

Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is free to play, but micro-transactions are present. Occasionally you'll be prompted to pay a small sum in order to unlock some objective or bonus but I've never bought anything in a mobile game and I'll be damned if I going to start now. Instead, you can opt to watch a short advert or interactive video (usually 30 seconds or so) and then get right back into the frantic finger tapping action. I guess Sega has to make its money somehow, so I can live with that.
As mentioned earlier, the aesthetics are pretty faithful to the Dreamcast and arcade original with the vast majority of the original drivers all making a return, and there are even some Offspring tracks from the original's soundtrack too which is a nice touch. That said, there's not really much more to Gazillionaire than tapping icons and occasionally upgrading your fleet of cabs or doing a scratch card. I can't really knock Sega for resorting to something like this though as Crazy Taxi proper is already available on most mobile devices and if this is a taste of what's to come in terms of IPs being resurrected, it's a decent start. It's not 'game of the year' fodder, but it's highly competent as a mobile game.

That said, I don't really play games on my iPhone and after I get bored of this one I'll most likely delete it to save space. While it lasts and keeps my attention though, it's a decent little homage to the Crazy Taxi series as a whole. I prefer to keep my portable gaming to dedicated portable consoles like the PS Vita or the Game Boy Advance, but if you're a Dreamcast fan (or just a general Sega fan) and you own an iOS or Android device you might as well give this a whirl. Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is free and it's a nice return to the world of Crazy Taxi for both veterans and newcomers alike.

Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is available on both Android and iOS for the grand price of absolutely nothing, but there are micro-transactions so beware. Also, I'd urge anyone to read the version history updates on the Apple App Store as they're pretty funny - nice job Demiurge Studios.

Verdict:
Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire, you got a Class B License! Here's a photo I shamelessly stole from Google to emphasise the point:
Transparency
SEGA Europe actually very nicely sent me a press release thingy to promote the release of Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire, so I thought I'd share the contents here with you lovely lot. Before you start thinking I've been bought out by a corporate machine, you can stop with that nonsense right now. It's basically a box containing the following:
A letter from Prestige Mega Corp (as seen in the the game), a Prestige Mega Corp window sticker (which is definitely going in the window of my car), a bottle of Evian...and a tub of Polo mints. Not sure if they're trying to tell me my breath stinks or what, but it was nice to get some mail that doesn't include a threat from bailiffs or a clod of human excrement inside a flaming paper bag. Now that's out of the way, go and download Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire so I can get paid. Cough. I mean...er...it's party time, kerazy money, let's have some fun etc etc.

Links
Apple App Store
Android Google Play Store
SEGA Europe
Demiurge Studios

5 comments:

The Blogger said...

Hey at least they recognize the power of the DC Junkyard!

SkillJim said...

Great article! I jumped straight into the game early this morning and got really addicted to it, it's a lot of fun, and I think they did a really good job considering the style of game this falls into!

As i'm sure you'll like to hear Tom, I read every single word of your article, and in doing so actually spotted a typo :) if you want to correct it, you wrote the word "addiction" instead of I believe "addition" - although the game is certainly one!

Right, back to my trillion dollar taxi corporation :)!

Tom Charnock said...

Thanks SkillJim, I spotted a couple myself too. Just another day in the ongoing battle against my MacBook and its desire to covertly change every word I type and covfefe

Hayden said...

I got my gift pack today. Back to the Sega of old, some bloke went to the vending machine in the office, selected a bottle of water and some mentors and stuck them in a box and paid £3.50 postage. How do they afford this stuff?

Anthony Harrap said...

Seriously, I got my pack today and yeah WTF. I got mentos instead of polos and there was even a notice on the evian bottle to not post it outside of Europe. I guess it took longer to get to Australia. Lol. What a waste of sega money for the postage! They could have used that to fund the sega classic dreamcast mini! At least the kids get a mint each.