Being a cabbie must be both a mundane and interesting job at any given moment. I assume most fares your typical cabbie or Uber driver will take are pretty dull. Your passenger(s) probably don’t want a chat. They just want to get from A to B and the destinations are probably between your passenger’s home, their place of work, and maybe their chosen transport hub. But every now and then, I bet they get a corker of a fare which totally throws them off guard. Be it a group of drunk students, eccentric people, weird destinations, or me when I was on my way to an airsoft game at 6am on a Saturday, carrying AK-sized rifle bags and clad in a Russian combat uniform (the cabbies often asked, and I always ended up having to explain what airsoft is). Taxi Chaos doesn’t have weird fares or destinations. So, it should make up for it with wacky gameplay right? Well, it tries, but it still manages to lose its appeal very quickly into your play sessions.
Taxi Chaos was developed by Team6 Game Studios and published by Lion Castle Entertainment. The game is very simple to sum up: you take control of one of two characters, Vinny or Cleo, and pick up various fares in your yellow cab across New Yellow City (very clever, guys). The aim in the main “arcade” mode is to pick up and complete as many fares and accumulating as many points as possible within the time limit. You gain points by completing fares and performing tricks, finding shortcuts, and speeding during the fare. The game also features a free play mode to pick up fares and practice tricks at your leisure without the stress of a time limit. There’s no story to speak of, so I’ll omit that portion.
The gameplay is pretty one note, which is the core of the building tedium over time. You pick your character, you pick your car, the game drops you into the middle of NYC, and the countdown begins. You then pick up highlighted NPCs on the side of the road and take them to their destination within their individual time limit while performing tricks and utilising shortcuts. During the journey, the passenger will converse with your driver, having initially humourous conversations. While many lines got a chuckle out of me the first time, by the time a conversation has repeated itself three times over the course of the same round, it quickly got grating and the shallow depth of the game began to show itself.
Due to the sheer repetitiveness of the gameplay, I could barely muster enough motivation to continue playing. Each journey was the same. The city was not interesting enough to explore. The NPC’s all spouted the same voice lines. There are not enough tricks or complexity to the control set to do anything interesting between point A and point B—within your arsenal, you can boost and you can jump, that’s it. There are no other tricks that you can feasibly perform. Worse still, at times you’ll jump at high speed, land, and lose all momentum, bringing the car to a grinding halt. I have experimented to find out why this happens at times and I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that it’s totally random and no consistent cause was found.
Now, the driving itself is quite good. The car responds well, and sharp corners are a breeze. You feel light and agile while traversing the city, which is certainly a redeeming factor. However, the game sparingly hands out points. You could narrowly miss cars and pedestrians, swerve at speed round a corner, jump over a truck and the game will only grant you points for the act of pressing the jump button rather than everything else with it. This makes point accumulation feel incredibly unrewarding, as tricks that you’d logically think would grant point just… don’t.
On top of all this, there’s little incentive to keep playing apart from unlocking more cars. All the cars are unlocked by completing milestones. These milestones include playing a number of Arcade rounds, completing a set number of fares, covering a set distance, and achieving a four star rating in the “pro mode.” All of these are pretty easy to complete and require very little time investment before obtaining all cars on the roster. After that, why keep playing? For the sake of the same repetitive gameplay loop? I say “no thank you.”
Graphically, the game is ok. Taxi Chaos has a pretty generic cartoonish art style with the cars touting exaggerated features to enhance that aspect. The game also performs admirably on the Switch but does feature a few frame rate drops at odd points, even when not much is happening on screen. Ultimately, the graphics and performance aren’t remarkable in any sense and don’t draw attention away from the rest of the game or elevate the experience.
Now, I’ll state the obvious for those who haven’t cottoned on just yet: this is a Crazy Taxi clone. I tried my hardest to not bring up the obvious comparison, but I can resist no longer. I haven’t played Crazy Taxi for a good number of years, probably not since I was around eight years old. So, naturally, I had to refresh myself by playing a completely legit copy on my PS2 that totally exists for real in my flat. This almost 22 year old game has more gameplay complexity than Taxi Chaos by an absolute country mile. You can drift the car, the map has much more verticality with long speed-building hills, and the soundtrack is much more enjoyable (thank you for that, Bad Religion). The map is much more intuitive with recognisable landmarks, encouraging you to remember shortcuts to certain destinations. There is a learning curve to Crazy Taxi that’s just not present in Taxi Chaos. You can realistically drive from the pickup to the destination within the time limit with no tricks or shortcuts, just following the waypoint arrow. And with no tricks up your sleeve that consistently work or map knowledge for shortcuts, you’ll end up doing this a lot. I ended up questioning what the point of the game was if there are no tricks. It’s supposed to be a Crazy Taxi clone, clearly. So, where’s what made Crazy Taxi great? Honestly, I would have preferred outright plagiarism over what Taxi Chaos actually delivers.
And what entry fee are you asked to pay if you wish to experience this shallow puddle with aspirations to be an Olympic swimming pool? A cool £31.49 on the Nintendo eShop. Going into Taxi Chaos, I had assumed this was at the bargain end of the eShop’s roster. But no, it’s staggeringly expensive for the quantity of content it delivers and the quality of that content. So, just for fun, lets take a dive into what you could buy on the eShop with that money (or even for less):
- Hades (£22.49) – A highly lauded roguelike with a great art style and charm. Recipient of over fifty publications’ Game of the Year titles. Given a 10 right here at JumpCut PLAY by Adam Walker.
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy (£34.99) – A fantastic and faithful remake of the first THREE Spyro games with gorgeous graphics and updated gameplay.
- Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition (£29.99) – One of the best Rayman games ever to grace this Earth with exclusive content for the Switch (which often goes on sale).
- VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action (£10.99) – A visual novel set in a cyberpunk dystopia with a bartending twist (highly recommend).
- Stardew Valley (£10.99) – A character-driven farming game with literal days’ worth of content to play (highly recommend).
The last two are among my favourite games of all time, and you can pick up both at full price from the eShop for £9.51 less than just Taxi Chaos on its own. Mind-boggling. (Prices accurate at time of writing.)
Taxi Chaos sought to emulate a 22 year old classic, thus having 22 years to learn what made Crazy Taxi great. Despite this, Taxi Chaos falls flat and fails to recapture the thrills and high-speed gameplay of its progenitor. At its high price point on the Nintendo eShop in relation to the content within, I cannot recommend Taxi Chaos in its current, shallow state.