HEY!!! TAXI!!! – Taking a ride in our favourite mode of local transport!

I just had a lot of food shopping to do, and as I don’t drive, I had to rely on a good ol’ taxi service. They rarely let me down. The night was cold, very cold on the south coast of England right now. I got into the taxi, as you do, and sat down for what is only a 5 minute journey. It’s crazy what can happen in such a short space of time, but the driver over-heard my accent (Scouse stands out quite drastically down south), started talking about how he has family in Liverpool, he hates Birkenhead but loves the other side of the Mersey River, big Liverpool FC fan, and he couldn’t do anything but gush proudly about how much he loves the people up north. Most drivers I have aren’t too fussed about me, even after I speak. This guy caught something, and felt compelled to wax lyrical.

I love a good taxi. They’ve helped me out of some real binds, and been there for me during airport runs, my wife giving birth, meeting many late appointments, they’re good. Now, what happens in video games can be a different story. Sure, some games like to replicate the feel of a genuine taxi ride, place you in the back-seat, and let the driver do the work, a la Grand Theft Auto 5. In GTA5, you find yourself needing some transport and for once, there’s no-one around to carjack. You open up your phone and find the taxi number. You dial. They answer. You explain where you are and they offer a cab as soon as possible. You stand around for maybe 20 – 30 seconds and then notice a cab pulling round the corner further up the road. The driver pulls up next to you and you get in. He gives you a choice of destinations. It could be your next mission, a marker you’ve set on your map, your home, it’s up to you. He pulls away and so begins a very under-rated process found within GTA5 which most players will skip because of their short attention spans.

I’ve found it a great relaxant. One time, I got into a taxi at Chumash on the west coast and was just heading home, simple enough. I also had a shitty nappy to change in real life, 3 month olds don’t wipe their own asses. It seemed as good a moment as any to let the game play on its own, and it was extremely therapeutic. The driver took his time, mumbled the odd sentence here and there, stops at all the relevant lights, and I’m able to keep tabs on this because my character’s life was no longer in my own hands. These taxi drivers KNOW what they’re doing! Of course, you could just carjack the guy and go on a killing rampage hitting as many old ladies as you possibly can. That’s kinda where Crazy Taxi comes in.

Because this game doesn’t punish you for going a little bonkers. It doesn’t let you murder anyone mind you, pedestrians will always dive out of even the most tightest hair-width of a gaps crashes. The only punishment incurred really is the fact you’ll lose precious time / points because you decided to go rogue instead of just ferrying customers to their required destinations. You need to play this sensibly if you’re going to be a good player…

Come on!!! This IS the godfather of all taxi video games! Released in arcades, PS2, Dreamcast, Gamecube, PC, PS3, 360, Gameboy Advance, even iOS and Android have gotten in on the act. It was helped along in its popularity in the late 90s with a very popular soundtrack featuring the likes of The Offspring and Bad Religion. The fact it was so fast-paced with such frenetic music lended well to the arcade scene at the time, and honestly, it never truly ported very well. While it never truly takes itself seriously, the game plus the multitude of mini-games included within have found themselves a hugely dedicated fanbase which persists to today. Despite a few sequels which all played near-identically in very familiar settings, the brand has survived with a good rep after all these years. Though let’s not talk about City Rush…

The Simpsons tried to ‘ham and egg’ in on this at the time Crazy was doing the rounds by releasing The Simpsons: Road Rage. Playing VERY MUCH like Crazy Taxi, Sega went so far as to sue Fox Interactive for the games release because it really feels like a near carbon copy of Sega’s offering. I prefer the Simpsons game though. I was better at it. And I hated The Offspring. Take that Offspring fans. There’s honestly not much more to say, if you liked Crazy Taxi but want to play it in Springfield, Road Rage is your game. Simpsons Hit & Run was even better though.

Let’s go waaaaaaaaaaay back. Like 80s back. Like, I was 3 or 4 years old playing Commodore 64 and listening to a digitised voice say, “HEY TAXI.” back. Space Taxi was one of my favourite games as a toddler and God only knows why because it is frustratingly difficult for me to play it today. A game which relies heavily on gravity and its physics, Space Taxi doesn’t mess around. You need to transport your customers who appear on numbered pads, to whatever other numbered pad they want. Simples. Not quite. Certain levels will see your controls get reversed which make handling the thrusters an absolute nightmare. Moving platforms also come into play which are quite the hindrance. Some of the level layouts are just so tight and sharp that only the most precise of players will be able to maneuver the fiendish challenges set down for you.

I’d like to cheat with my final mention, as it’s not a ‘taxi’ per se, but still acts as the exact same method of transport; the good ol’ faithful carriage of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim! These handy buggers are located everywhere you’ll find civilisation within Skyrim and are so bloody cheap that you’d be an idiot not to use them. Some miserable sods would argue that’s what fast travel is for. Well this is still kind of fast travelling because you can skip to your destination once in the carriage; but you’ll have helped a poor worker out in the local community by throwing a few gold their way for the pleasure of the trip! DON’T JUST FAST TRAVEL THROUGH THE MAP SCREEN!!! Think of the locals who really need your financial help to get through another harsh winter. Use those carriages people, they’re always there for your travelling needs.

And so ends my waxing lyrical on the finer points of this particular mode of transport. I love a good taxi me. More reliable than the freakin’ bus services round here that’s for sure. And at least Dennis Hopper would never have gone round threatening hackney carriages with speed related explosives. You find a taxi in a video game, you make sure to use the bugger. He’ll do all the work for you while you get to sit back and chill out. Or change a crappy nappy. Just don’t take a cab in the lesser known Quarantine…

See me hailing a cab @auto2112