Wow, has it really been almost a decade since I've played a Dreamcast game?? I'm glad I finally dusted off the ol' dream machine in order to check out Crazy Taxi, one of the platform's biggest hits.
The game predated the Grand Theft Auto games, but they have a similar feel. You drive around a fictionalized US city at breakneck speeds causing mayhem with traffic and causing pedestrians to dive desperately out of the way. In this game you're collecting fares, and the constant pressure of the clock threw me off at first. Coming in with few preconceptions I was surprised that the game was so arcade-y, although it makes sense since the game actually did start life in the arcade. Playthroughs are pretty short, although with enough experience and skill you can collect fares continuously, as successfully completed fares refill your time slightly. The city is pretty big, and its hills and streetcars clearly bring San Francisco to mind. It's fun to just drive around and careen through the roads and down hills, but it's only through trial and error that you'll get higher scores as knowing the town's geography, where the best fares are, and what the fastest way to get from one point to another are essential.
The game has two maps for you to tackle and a mission mode. The mission mode teaches you some moves that apparently are essential for getting high scores, but despite practicing them a decent amount I never really mastered them. Even though I never got very good at the game, it's the kind of game that is good in short bursts for more-casual players. The amount of product placement is a funny sign of the times, and the licensed music from Bad Religion and The Offspring (unusual for the time) also definitely help make the game more memorable. Overall this was a nice bit of history and it's easy to see why it was such a hit back in the day, although I don't think I feel any need to pick up any of its sequels.