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A First Hands-On With Sega’s CRAZY TAXI: CITY RUSH

Somewhere in America, Tony Danza (or Tony Banta to be more specific) is sporting a huge grin on his face, while at the same time, the conference room dwellers of instant vehicle service Uber are angrily flipping their tables, and this is why:

Crazy Taxi has returned from its decade-long hiatus and is looking to showcase the power of mobile platforms in Crazy Taxi: City Rush. This marks the first Crazy Taxi game to be exclusive to mobile devices, as series creator Kenji Kanno hopes to keep the fare-stacking action of City Rush canonical to the arcade and Dreamcast iterations of the legendary franchise that many know and love.

Screenshots_iPad_NoHUD_03The good folks of Sega of America were kind enough to offer yours truly some hands on time with the game at SXSW last week and I was thoroughly impressed with the demo— it’s fun, intuitive and includes as much, if not more, depth than that of a console experience. Sega enlisted Sonic Dash development team Hardlight Studio to fine-tune the Crazy Taxi experience for mobile audiences.

City Rush‘s San Francisco-based playable area is openly traversable and humongous, spanning across 4 sizable districts with about 7-8 neighborhoods within each. There’s no gas or braking in this game— you can only accelerate using the game’s boost feature and your foot never lets off the pedal. Most of the racing around the city happens with the game’s intuitive swipe-to-turn/tap-to-stop controls, which seem to work pleasantly in comparison to using the screen’s orientation or some awkwardly placed on-screen gamepad, as seen in other mobile racing titles.

Screenshots_iPad_NoHUD_01“Yo dawg, I heard you like customization, so we put custom soundtracks in your custom taxi, so your custom character can jam while completing customary taxi jobs,” said the voice in my head as I explored the robust amount of customization features City Rush had to offer. You can pimp your taxi cab with visuals and performance upgrades, stylize your driver, and even organize your very own custom soundtrack to blast as you cruise around and rack up those fresh dolla dolla bills, y’all. There’s also a slew of social features that are sure to add replay value, like an in-game messaging system, Facebook sharing capabilities, and the ability to view friends’ activity on your play map and challenge their high scores.

Screenshots_iPad_NoHUD_02The best part about Crazy Taxi: City Rush is that it stays true to its predecessors— from the groovy aesthetics (the ad placement is ingenious) to the fast-paced, countdown timer gameplay— all while refining the experience to be relevant to the mobile and modern eras of gaming. Folks who have played the previous titles will remember things like the giant arrow pointer and wise-cracking taxi passengers who are more than often unappreciative of your urgency to get them to their destination.

As of now, there is no set date for City Rush‘s release, though we do know that we’ll be seeing its release sometime later this year as a free-to-play title. But in the meantime, why not take a few drives down memory lane with the original Crazy Taxi, which is now available for a limited time for free in the Google Play store and App Store.

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