Alright, one thing that should be pointed out is that Crazy Taxi was originally an arcade game. When you play it, you'll instantly pick up on that. Created by Sega, Crazy Taxi is self-explanatory from the title: you're a taxi driver who has to pick up passengers and get them to their destination within a certain time limit. Really, that's it. No grand narrative or nuanced character development, just pure arcade-style fun. As far as premises for an excuse plot video game go, it's a pretty solid starting point, one that has been replicated by the GTA franchise countless times.
One of my major criticisms of Crazy Taxi is that it only has one map to drive around in. While that is fine for an arcade cabinet game, for a console game it's severely lacking in variety. On the other hand, it allows the player to learn the lay of the land on repeated game-play sessions. The map itself is a bright, colourful San Francisco-like city with plenty of landmarks to take customers to. Some of these landmarks are admittedly the most blatant product placements I've ever seen in a video game, but it's not exactly a deal-breaker (not that I can throw stones in that glass house anyway). Like most games from the sixth generation of consoles, the graphics have aged drastically on a technical level, but in terms of aesthetic (and dare I say artistic) style the graphics compliment the frenetic game-play.
As for the game-play, it most certainly feels like an arcade experience. It's built from the ground-up to be played in short bursts rather than long sessions. While there are four colourful characters to choose from, the overall game-play remains uniform with no variation. The most vital aspect is controlling the taxi itself, which I'm glad to say is fun for the most part, whizzing around the map, making large jumps and near-missing oncoming traffic to rack up the fare. It took me a while to get used to reversing, but I soon got the hang of it.
Overall, Crazy Taxi isn't a game I would have paid full price for back in the day. For better or worse, it's designed to be played a few minutes at a time, holding onto its arcade roots. I admit it's quite a cheesy game, definitely a product of the late 90s/turn of the millennium with its soundtrack, visuals and design, but it's enjoyably cheesy. Thankfully it can be picked up quite cheaply these days, so if you're after some frantic arcade fun it's worth checking out.