Many gamers remember the days in the arcades and huddled around their Sega Dreamcasts where they spent hours picking people up for modest taxi fares. I’m referring to Crazy Taxi if you haven’t caught on, a game where you — playing as a cabbie — have to give people a lift to their desired destinations in a short amount of time.
The combination of crazy bonus objectives and an obscene lack of reasonable time to do your job means you have to cut through neighborhood parks, take crazy jumps and other shortcuts to make it there in time. And if you don’t? Expect an earful… or, at the very least, a passenger jumping out of the backseat of your ride while you’re moving at 100 miles per hour.
And we loved it. And now it’s making a comeback — only, not in the way we’d want it to. Crazy Taxi City Rush heading to the Google Play Store this morning for the low price of “free” would have been sweet if not for the fact that it’s yet another freemium cash grab. Sega was the one company who seemed alright with handing you a pretty full experience for $5 without resorting to shameless tricks of the trade, but I suppose even they have their limits.
City Rush takes its basic premise straight from the core of the franchise — you pick up fares, and you drive them around. Only now you have to pay for gas. A full tank will get you four rides. To fill your tank, you have to buy digital gems. If not with real money (25 gems gets you 4 rides, and the cheapest option to buy them is 300 for $2.99), then you have to buy them with the time spent watching an ad that probably has nothing of worth for you (and you better believe you won’t get nearly as much “game time” from watching those ads as you would paying real dough).
There’s also a second digital currency you can buy: dollars for straight up dollars. These are more used to unlock new cabs, bonuses for your cab and more, though none of it really amounts to much more than cosmetic goodness and some minor changes in gameplay. Thankfully gold is much easier to earn in the game than gems, but the ability to buy more is there for the impatient should they so choose.
All that said, the game itself isn’t bad. It’s not a faithful recreation of the original as much as it is a new casual-targeted offering with controls better suited for mobile (you use gestures instead of accelerometer steering to find your way through the streets), but it borrows enough from the original smash hit that it can take you on a decent nostalgic trip. Whether said trip is ruined by the presence of freemium money-making tactics is up to you to decide. Give it a go for free over at Google Play.