Friday, October 15, 2010

Let's go make some CRAZY money

Yesterday was the PAL Dreamcast's eleventh birthday, which made me feel old. How must guys who remember the Spectrum feel?

To celebrate the occasion, I dug out my old machine to indulge in some nostalgia, which is becoming a bit of a tradition by now*. The Dreamcast was the first console I ever bought with my own money, and only the second games machine we had in the house growing up (not counting multi-purpose machines like the C64 and Amiga).

After a brief flip through the disc wallet, I settled on Crazy Taxi** - mostly because the recently-dated XBLA conversion had put it back in my mind, and I was wondering if it would be worth the entry price. But after 45 minutes of cruising crashing around the Arcade city, I'm more undecided than I was before.

The problem isn't that Crazy Taxi isn't fun any more; I had just as much fun barrelling through traffic with terrified fares screaming at me as I ever did. But it is very much a game of its time.

The twitchy handling, unconventional controls and inconsistent physics. The bare-faced product placement. It's hard to see a modern gaming audience overlooking these problems, with the advances made over the last 11 years - even if, without them, it wouldn't really be Crazy Taxi.

I know that my enjoyment is almost completely down to nostalgia. All the things that made me smile were based on how I used to play the game back in the day - trying to remember or recreate routes through the city, picking up the sequence of fares to get the best time bonuses, trying to hit the helipad edge at just the right angle to clear the traffic on the other side. The soundtrack, which introduced me to my favourite band for the last ten years.

I'll download the trial at least, of course. And the allure of achievements might be enough to sway me, if they're not too stupid. And the Crazy Box leaderboards - my brothers and I had a long-running Crazy Jump rivalry, which I won by the narrowest of margins (about 0.7m).

But at the same time, I already have Crazy Taxi, it's still brilliant fun in its current form and I don't know if I need or want it to be updated.

*The other Dreamcast tradition we have is Shenmue - my brothers and I play through the game from start to finish every year when everybody's back home at Christmas.
**Really, I should have played Sonic Adventure or Power Stone - the games I actually had on launch day.

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