Tag Archives: Sega

Game Ideas: Crazy Taxi 4

Anyone who knows me, even a little bit, knows how big of a Sega nerd I am. I grew up playing games on my various Sega systems (even the 32x, CD, and Nomad for crying out loud) and I count those games as some of the biggest influences on my career path and the designs I come up with. So, from time to time, I like to imagine what some of my favorite Sega titles would look like if they got a new entry on today’s consoles. One of the games I played religiously after school everyday was Crazy Taxi. To this day, I still think that game is a great example of simple-yet-engaging game design. It’s been on my brain for a couple of days so I thought I’d take the opportunity to list out some ideas that I would love to see if we were ever blessed with another Crazy Taxi title.

So many games have tried to capture what made Crazy Taxi special but it was usually by sticking you in another type of vehicle and then mimicking the timer aspects. What I want to try and do here is build upon the core concepts, while adding in some modern gaming conventions. With all that said, here’s what I would love to see in a future installment.

Let the player build their own cab company

I don’t want to make the game overly complicated but I would like to give the player a sense of ownership over their game. Let them start up their own cab company. They could choose a name, cab colors, and create their own crazy cabbie. The money they gather while playing the game would go towards their company and affect their ability to buy better cabs and possibly better offices. The licenses that they acquire would either build up or bring down their reputation as a company. A higher reputation would unlock more challenging fares on the different maps, while a bad reputation would keep the fares relatively simple.

Not only would this give the player a sense of ownership, it would allow the game to evolve as the player gets better at the game. The player wouldn’t just be trying to achieve a large amount of cash and a good license for the sake of it, they would be doing so because it would benefit different aspects of the game. This would hopefully get them to become repeat players.

Multiple Cities

Give the player more sights to see.

This ones a little bit shorter in detail but a fourth Crazy Taxi needs to have multiple cities. Let the player start up their company in the entry city (maybe a revamped version of the original map) and then they can expand into the harder cities as their reputation and wealth builds up. This would provide an opportunity to bring back the cities from the first three games and possibly add in two or three more new maps. Having multiple cities would really help remove some of the monotony of only playing the same map over and over.

Online Play

This is probably the biggest no-brainer but it’s also one that opens up so many possibilities. Imagine an ever-present competition between you and your friends as you try to build your cab company into the largest one around. Anyone on your friends list, who owns the game, would be represented and fighting for territory amongst the games five to six maps. There could be an “auto-log”-like feature that updates the player and lets them know that their friend’s cab company just earned a higher reputation amongst the patrons of the Pizza Hut near Big Hills Park. Leader boards and the like would be a natural extension and would show who the top cab company in the entire world is (how much money, how many S licenses, reputation, etc).

Four cabs flying around, competing for fares? Take my money Sega!

Another natural extension would, of course, be online play. If a player saw his/her friend online, trying to beat their score, they could jump into that map and either try to block their friend from completing the fare or quickly try to elevate their own standing. Four players would probably need to be the max on something like this since you don’t want the map to become overly crowded. Players could also have the option to allow people who aren’t on their friends to jump into their city and compete for territory. And, of course, there would have to be a matchmaking option for people who just want to play a standard game of Crazy Taxi with four strangers online.

Online Crazy Box

Who’s ready for some Kkkeeeeerrrazzaay Bowling?!

This one should probably go into online play but I’m separating it just because of how much fun I think it would be. The crazy box challenges are incredibly fun on their own but imagine how fun it would be if you could play them with your friends. Maybe a few frames of crazy bowling, see who can get the most drift points in a set amount of time, or who can land the longest crazy jump. Any of the challenges would be playable with friends or strangers and there could even be a few special co-op challenges just for the multiplayer.

Those were the ideas that have been banging around in my head the past couple of days. There’s probably some holes in there that need fixing and there’s probably a lot more that could be done other than what I have written. So, what do you think? Anything you’d like to add? I’d love some feedback and to possibly hear any ideas from some fellow Crazy Taxi players.


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The Blue Shell Alternative

Aside from analyzing game mechanics and talking about ideas, one of my goals with this blog is to shine a spotlight on examples of great game design ideas. I was reading some game developer interviews over the weekend and I believe I found one such example. First, a little background.

Death from above

Anyone who’s played Mario Kart is probably familiar with the dreaded blue shell. If not, its an item given to a trailing racer that they can send off to attack the player currently in first place. Despite what some people will tell you, this item is not a guaranteed hit anymore and can be guarded if your timing is right. The problem is that not everybody has perfect timing and getting hit with a blue shell usually happens at the worst possible moment (like seconds from the finish line). I understand the purpose of the item is to keep races unpredictable and give less-skilled players a fighting chance but ultimately, if you are a skilled Mario Kart racer, it usually just feels like you’re being punished.

Easy Defense

Some recent kart racers have tried to remedy this type of problem by allowing their racers to have some form of defense; most notably Modnation Racers and it’s shield mechanic. This type of mechanic brings on a problem all of it’s own though. Any player who is good enough at building up power for their shield/boost meter (which isn’t that hard to do) can block just about anything that is thrown their way. Basically, it helps widen the gap between the player in first and the players behind them. Its almost on the opposite end of the blue shell spectrum because now the skilled players seem to have all of the advantage, making it harder for a casual player to feel competitive. So, what is the happy middle ground to fix this problem?

Please have Ristar, please have Ristar….

Well, it sounds like the team at Sumo Digital may have come up with a simple and intuitive sounding mechanic that falls somewhere in between. I was reading an article where one of the developers was answering fan questions about the new game and, like clockwork, someone asked about a blue shell type weapon being in the game. The developer answered with the following:

“As if we’d put in a Blue Shell. A little faith guys! What it does is drop things in front of first place, you can avoid them, but even doing that will slow you down. It doesn’t however hit you in an unstoppable way with (hardly any) means of defense.”

I read this and was almost immediately hit with a why-hasn’t-anyone-thought-of-this-before feeling (if they have, I apologize. I’ve never encountered it). Now, obviously I haven’t had a chance to try this for myself but, on paper, this sounds like a perfect way of bridging the gap between the two previous examples. Casual players will have a potentially game changing item at their disposal to help them get back into the action but not at the expense of a skilled player’s perfectly played race.

There are some questions that immediately come to mind about how well this method will actually work. How easy is it to avoid these items? If it’s too easy then there’s no point; too hard and we’re back where we started. How often will trailing players get the items? Just how much does it slow you down to avoid it? These are all balancing questions though. Things I fully expect the guys/gals at Sumo Digital to figure out before release. But amidst all of the silly “copycat” talk that is surrounding Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, I wanted to single out just one of the simple, yet inventive, ways Sumo Digital is tackling the kart genre and one of its’ annoyances that has plagued it for well over a decade.

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