Crazy Taxi 2 Dreamcast, prototypes invade the streets of New York!!!
Before we get started, sit back on your couch, grab a drink, take a deep breath, and then click below to enjoy the sweet but rousing melody that will accompany you as you read this article/prototype review of the best Taxi game in the world. Slash, Iceman, Cinnamon and Hot-D will be performing, and believe me, they're hot!
Let's go back to a time, to the late 90's, when Punk Rock was enjoying a resurgence. Pimply teenagers discovered "The Offspring", a band that’s fondly remembered by a generation of angry music lovers. Why talk about this band? Simply because it is directly linked to the Crazy Taxi series initiated by SEGA on Naomi arcade terminal in 1999. When we mention Crazy Taxi, we think of this American band from Orange County and their hit "All I Want".
Yaa, Yaa, Ya...
Day after day your home life's a wreck
The powers that be just
Breathe down your neck
You get no respect
You get no relief
You gotta speak up
And yell out your piece
The Crazy Taxi soundtrack is a strong point of the game. SEGA did not make a mistake when they chose to integrate songs such as Offsprings or Bad Religion to their mythical racing game. Music that 20 years later has not aged one bit!
Concerning the concept of Crazy Taxi, the father of the game, Kenji Kanno, who, until then, never found success within SEGA AM3, despite coming up with interesting concepts, found himself one day stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Sat there and raging behind the wheel, he looked at the opposite lane and, realizing that it was deserted, thought that he would love to drive over the guardrail and back up the highway, leaving everyone behind him. That's how the crazy concept of Crazy Taxi was born, a paving stone in the videogame world where innovation is found in an open world, in the middle of an industry that only offers linear races.
Incidentally, before 2001, SEGA had filed a patent in the United States concerning the method of indicating the direction of movement of Crazy Taxi, which first appeared in 1997 in the game Harley-Davidson & L.A. Riders game. Namely, the 3D arrow showing where the objectives are (a kind of compass). Games that, along with Top Skater, the first skateboard arcade game by Kenji Kanno, released in 1997, all contributed to the foundation of Crazy Taxi. When The Simpson: Road Rage was released by EA (publisher) and Fox Entertainment (license owner), in 2001, and which shamelessly used the mechanics of Crazy Taxi, SEGA asserted its patent and sued Fox Interactive. As a result of this lawsuit, Fox had to pay an undisclosed amount after an amicable settlement behind closed doors, thus compensating SEGA of America.
Album of The Offsprings
Original sketch of the US cover for Crazy Taxi 1
With color this time
After the phenomenal success of the first part, which was the second biggest sales of SEGA in the USA in 2000 with 750,000 copies, and the 3rd biggest all time sales with more than 1 million softs, (early prototype to discover here), a Crazy Taxi 2 was going to be planned. Crazy Taxi allowed a strong increase in the sales of the Dreamcast. It must be said that a particular care had been brought to the console version, which had a new map, an improved gameplay, as well as a challenge mode based on the "special moves" of vehicle. The Dreamcast version had well integrated the fact that simple arcade conversions were no longer enough, as players now demanded exclusive console content. Obviously, after such a great success, SEGA did not want to stop there. Crazy Taxi 2 took about two years to develop, with Kenji Kanno still spearheading the project. A large part of the work was dedicated to the creation of the game environments and the optimization of the gameplay. Finally, in the summer of 2001, Crazy Taxi 2, still developed by Hitmaker, was launched worldwide. A game that, this time, will not go through the arcade.
In terms of development, Crazy Taxi 2 has been built on the foundation of the first title, with many of the same gameplay mechanics and features being retained. However, the developers have introduced a number of new features (such as picking up multiple people at once) and improvements to make the game more engaging and exciting for players.
After having crisscrossed the streets of San Francisco in Crazy Taxi 1, the yellow cabs found themselves this time in the streets of New York, no more California sunshine, just the mist of the Big Apple. Graphically, the game hadn't evolved, but the gameplay had fun new features like the addition of a button to make the car jump and free itself from the Traffic, it is the "Crazy Hop". New York being known for its crowded traffic during rush hours, this command was a good way to avoid waiting for hours and hours in traffic!
The principle remained the same: you had to complete the maximum number of races in a limited time. The customers to be collected were everywhere, and were easily recognizable by the circle, of different colors (characterizing the length of the routes, green = far, red = near), in which they are. By taking risks as exciting as inconsiderate, in the driving of cabs, the customers reward the driver by giving him tips, the piling up of skids and other collisions of cars allowing to obtain a multiplier of the said tips, an advantage which would not disappear without a most unpleasant pile-up for the passenger or passengers.
The game featured an open world environment that allowed players to explore the city and discover new shortcuts and routes to reach their destination faster.
Four new drivers were available: Slash, Iceman, Cinamon and Hot-D. Hot-D was the initials of another famous SEGA game: House of the Dead. Each one has its own vehicle with different characteristics. If one goes faster, the other has a better grip on the road.
As in the first Crazy Taxi, the Crazy Pyramid mini-tests, fifteen in total, were back and allowed the player to get used to the game (a kind of tutorial). They were all original and quite funny. For example, you had to jump hurdles, do a triple jump or climb a building as fast as possible.
The game was critically acclaimed for its responsive gameplay and arcade style, but unfortunately did not enjoy the same success as the first opus. Despite this, sequels or ports were released on PC, Playstation 2, Xbox, GameCube, PSP or Game Boy Advance, offering a similar game experience for a wider audience.
The gang of drivers from Crazy Taxi 2 reunited!
Sale ebay (2023) of a vehicle used to promote CT3
By the way, about Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller, its development will start shortly after Crazy Taxi 2 but will be effective once SEGA will officially become a third party publisher and not a console manufacturer anymore. This time, Kenji Kanno is no longer the director, even if he keeps his producer's hat. The means allocated for the development of this new episode are much more reduced, maybe because the second game did not reach the commercial expectations of the arcade giant. Reduced means, both in terms of development time, and in terms of staff, composed of a little more than 20 people. Due to an agreement with Microsoft, which will see games like Shenmue 2 released in the United States on Xbox, and not on Dreamcast, the Crazy Taxi engine is then adapted on the imposing Microsoft console. At first, the project was meant to be an online game called Crazy Taxi: Next, managing time with a day/night cycle. The game was abandoned with a transfer of the work done to the direct benefit of Crazy Taxi 3. Contrary to the 2, it will know thereafter an arcade version on the Chihiro system, also based on the first Xbox architecture. On Xbox, the game lacks optimization, and suffers from many slowdowns. Located, this time, in the city of Las Vegas, it remains nevertheless a very good game, but certainly the least good of the canon trilogy.
In a poor state...
After this small overview of the main games of the series, what is left of its legacy? Well, today, Crazy Taxi 1 and Crazy Taxi 2 remain popular games among retro arcade fans and are considered as absolute classics of the Dreamcast console.
In short, an arcade cab game, funky, fluid, funny, super playable and where you can drive around and smash as many things as you want in the background. What else could you possibly want?
The March 11, 2001 Dreamcast Prototype
By doing a content analysis of the prototype, the build was created on March 11th 2001 at 23:25:59. This Japanese prototype of Crazy Taxi 2 would have been burned about 2 months before the final Japanese version being on May 2, 2001. If this beta is Japanese, the texts are English. No remaining Japanese text language could be seen. At first sight, the prototype seems to be ordinary but if you look at it closely, it is really special!
Video of the prototype
It seems that the game as a whole is more complete than the Crazy Taxi 1 prototype in comparison, but many important underlying gameplay elements were still being defined.
Have fun with this new prototype of Crazy Taxi 2 Dreamcast, it is very special you will see why!
Before reaching the loading/saving menu, once CT 2 is launched, the game proceeds to a loading symbolized by the Crazy Taxi 2 logo with "Now Loading" written on it. The font used does not correspond to its counterpart in the final version. The layout of the loading logo is also different.
Who doesn't know this title screen?
Or how to drive during the Auto-Demo
If the save files use the same name between the prototype and the master, this build requires 11 free blocks on the memory card to save a game as opposed to the 20 blocks required in the commercial version. The beta does not accept saves from the final. In the save and load menu, the warning text will be shortened and more explicit when burning the final game.
The introductory cutscene (Auto-Demo), by not pressing any buttons in the title menu, is not the right one. It's just some weird shots of Slash's car that repeat over and over again (a loop). Surprisingly, the car can be driven during this cinematic!
The ancient name of the jump?
A perfect build to take nice photos
In the menus, at the bottom of the screen, it is written "Use Up/Down on D-Pad to select..." instead of "Use the D-Pad to select...", example below when choosing the cab driver (by the way, the vehicles either in this window or in the game may have graphic specificities of the prototype).
I repeat, nice photos
The jump assigned to the "Y" button, one of the new features of this sequel, is simply called "Hopping" unlike "Crazy Hop" which will appear in the configuration menu of the controller when Crazy Taxi 2 goes to Gold.
The layout of the "MAP" section, when choosing the game mode (Normal- 3-5 or 10 minutes) will be reworked in the final version of the Hitmaker title.
Three new features, new to the build, to be configured, appear in the "OPTIONS", they are "TIME SETTINGS", "TIME DIFFICULTY" and "TRAFFIC DIFFICULTY". However, these settings were already present in Crazy Taxi 1.
When the game asks to select a pilot, by choosing Gus, the character points his index finger and not his thumb like the usual animation.
The prototype switches the order of the music. There is "Come Out Swinging" - "One Fine Day" - "No Brakes" - "Walla Walla" instead of "Come Out Swinging", "One Fine Day", "Walla Walla" and "No Brakes".
It's not good to run into passers-by
The narrator's voice-over saying "We're back! It's Crazy Taxi 2" or "Crazy Taxi 2" in the title menu is not yet implemented. Other missing voice problems can be found in other menus, especially in the cab selection menu. The sound of the voices is set lower on the prototype.
Almost everyone in the prototype has alternate takes for their voice lines. The actors are probably the same (or not, but some voices are clearly preliminary. Ice Man shares almost no voices with the final version.
Once the cabs from Crazy Taxi 1 are unlocked in Crazy Pyramid, when choosing them, Axel doesn't speak, another actor probably dubbed BD Joe as for Gena and Gus, their voice timbre already sounds like the final version (maybe with some different voice lines).
Like at the Casino
The sound of collecting money received by delivering a customer is different.
When the game goes silent, the right stereo channel is busy playing the last sound that was played before, again and again...
Many customers don't have a voice or scream when they get out of the way when they see the car running over them.
In the "MAP" section, the cursor movement sound does not exist yet.
The Audio section certainly deserves several checks and deeper analysis. It is not easy to analyze the sound aspect of a game
The collision system seems provisional. The physics of collisions, with walls for example, had to be completely revised before the release of the title.
Thanos has been there
The work of David Copperfield
Thank goodness there's no baby in it
The NPCs, to be taken by cab, can be placed in different places compared to their location on the commercial version. When they are in the right place, the colored circles designating the difficulty of the race are sometimes missing (impossible to pick them up and bring them where they want). When they run away, they can go through the walls of nearby buildings. Cities are less populated, non-player characters are missing. Take a ride in the Big Apple subway stations!
The game, at this stage of its development, suffers from clipping problems (the sudden appearance of scenery). On the commercial version, these problems are noticeable but less pronounced.
The drift (steering) reacts in an unusual (and contradictory) way compared to the final version. At the same time, the timing and logic of drifting (both distance and angle) to score a crazy drift combo in this prototype is very different from the commercial version. The physics of the vehicles (drifting and powersliding) were not yet properly conveyed. Try the Baby Stroller and make comparisons between the known versions of Crazy Taxi 2. Do some driving tests once in the water which by the way has another rendering (the same as CT1?) without the fish animation!
The Bike, once stopped or when starting a new game, only jumps on the spot whereas this funny animation does not exist generally (or almost not). The way he jumps is very particular and does not correspond to his usual jump which should be a kind of wheeling!
Perfect to play leapfrog
Drifting in this build requires a lot of countersteering to keep the car from turning the other way, which is very different from the final version. The driving is more realistic and not arcade as usual.
The parking places in front of some symbolic places of the two cities are sometimes empty whereas trucks, cars or others should be parked there, it is the case in front of the factory of "Around Apple". In the surrounding area, the prototype lighting suddenly changes (a kind of reddish fog not visible normally), it’s extremely jarring !
Slash's car has chrome decorations on the front and back (also noticeable on the character selection screen). They will be removed during the pressing of the disc. The decorative elements on the rear of Iceman's car will also be changed later.
When the time is up, the player arrives at a ranking window with the money won. The font for the dollar sign and numbers is incorrect.
In Crazy Pyramid, the unit of measurement of the driver's weight and height in the profile form varies from one version to another.
He should lose weight
The driving aces have an animation at the beginning of an event, which is not normally found after the development of the game.
Crazy Taxi 1 cabs are unlocked once the 1-1 mission has been successfully completed, knowing that the S-S event in the final version was not yet implemented at the time of the burning of this GD-R. It is therefore possible that the S-S mission is not only absent, but that it was not even planned at this stage of the development of Crazy Taxi 2. In the commercial copy, the final event works really badly, which could explain this hypothesis. Another element that may strengthen this thesis is the layout of the main menu of Crazy Pyramid, the whole layout was reduced to accommodate the S-S mission in the final version. It could be a last minute addition!
You know me, I love pretty photos
Once a stage of the pyramid is completed, the player unlocks bonuses (maps, the Bike, CT1 cabs, etc.). The window displaying the rewards is basic compared to the final version.
One last photo, after, I promise I'll stop
The times to complete the events, from the prototype to the commercial version, vary for almost all the missions. The difficulty to complete them was not really adjusted yet, so it is easier to complete the "Crazy Pyramid" mode in this build of Crazy Taxi 2.
The default scores recorded in the "Record" box on the mission selection page of Crazy Pyramid are not correct for many of the events in this game mode.
Crazy Pyramids event specifics:
In "Crazy Hurdle": The description of the mission, in the black box provided for this purpose, is written on 1 line and not on 2 lines.
In "Crazy Hop": This event should normally be called "Crazy Ramps". Its description also differs.
In "Crazy Rush 2": The mission description is incorrect...
In "Crazy Down": The name of the event will be changed later to finally be called "Crazy Drop".
In "Crazy Hop Hop": This event would normally be called "Crazy Arches".
In "Crazy Golf": The map does not correspond to the final version. Once the ball is hit, the camera angle of the cutscene is not the same.
In "Crazy Jump 2": The description of the event to be performed will evolve from the prototype to the commercial version of Crazy Taxi 2 from "Jump and get K points or more" to "Jump over 250 meters" (in game, the letter "K" replaces the word "Target" in the player interface.
In "Crazy Road": This map loads briefly on a black background, it lasts just a fraction of a second before the part of the city where the event takes place is displayed on the screen.
In "Crazy All Tour ": This race should be called "Crazy Tour". The starting position of the cabs takes place in another area of the city. The customers are hidden at other strategic points than in the final version.
In "Crazy 3 Jump": Some of the asphalt textures have different colors.
In "Crazy Balloon 2": The textures of the balloons to be exploded are white unlike several different colors (green, red etc.) in the final version.
In "Crazy Stairs": If the goal of the mission remains the same, the entire map (its design and graphic style) will be remodeled later to arrive at the known one.
The "Crazy Pyramid" game mode in Crazy Taxi 2 is a kind of new content in the title, it had to be created completely from scratch. So this is where the graphical differences (not only) are the most important. Crazy Taxi 2 could be considered as an addon to Crazy Taxi 1.
In-game development options (Debug)
With a controller plugged into port B, by pressing and holding "X"+"B", the message Debug "Course Disp CPU Pow" appears at the bottom of the screen.
For the most interesting option of the build, you have to connect a controller to the port C of the console in order to access to the hidden views of Crazy Taxi 2 (also available in final version). By pressing START, you will be able to see the future manipulations (buttons to press) to change the view of the vehicle, such as:
Replay view: Button Y
Inner side view: Button B
Back inside view: Press B again when in "Inner Side" view
View "Back outside 1st": Button X
View " Back outside 2th" : Press X again once at the view "Back outside 1st"
Reset the original default view: Button A
In the final version, you have to hold down START each time and press the button of the corresponding view.
This prototype does not allow to choose the view near the left front wheel of the cab (by pressing "B" 3 times). The key combo to display the speedometer (hold START and press 5 times in a row the "up" button of the D-pad) does not work in this build. In the commercial version, the views available with the "X" button are rotating cameras around the car and not the "Back outside" view. This beta also allows to turn around the car with the "Replay" view which is not the case in the usual way.
The 2 "Back outside" views are in fact views allowing to activate development options such as:
Choose the camera angle of your choice for a view that follows the cab
To take advantage of this feature, you need to go to the "Back outside 1st" view and proceed as follows:
D-pad : Camera orientation
Left Trigger: Move the camera backwards
Right trigger: Move forward with the camera
Once the angle of view is decided, by returning to the game with Pad A, the player will follow and drive the cab with this new view.
Choose the camera angle of your choice for a fixed view on your position
To take advantage of this feature, go to the "Back outside 2th" view and press "Right" on the "D-Pad. Green Debug information will appear on the right side of the screen. There are 4 camera modes including:
Orbit/Doll : The first mode once the debug information is activated, it is a rotating camera around the vehicle using the joystick.
Fov : You have to press the "Up" button of the D-Pad, it's a zoom and dezoom using the right and left triggers. By pressing "up" again the game returns to the Orbit/Doll position.
Turn : You have to press the "Down" button on the D-Pad, it's the Free Camera allowing you to freely explore the streets of New York. The left and right triggers allow you to move while the Joystick allows you to turn.
Move : You have to press the "Left" button of the D-Pad, it's another Free Camera with lateral and height movements only ( controller's trigger and Joystick).
The "Right" button on the D-Pad can be used to display or not display the debug information, the selected camera mode will always remain effective.
Development options in the menus
You need to connect a controller to port C of the console in order to move the 3D model of the character on the cab selection window.
Hold A+X: Lower the character
Hold A+Y: Move the character up
Hold A+Left or Right on the D-Pad: Move the character laterally
Hold A+Up or Down on the D-Pad: Adjust the size (scale) of the character on the screen.
Important: We think there should be a lot more active development options and everywhere (in the game, in the menus etc).
The Hack of the game
With the discovery of the Free Camera of this Crazy Taxi 2, it became obvious that the prototype could contain more mystery, more hidden development options. VincentNL, specialist of the Naomi system, was the best person to check the contents of this particular build of the famous arcade game from SEGA.
a divers effets, yincluding a dummy passenger
Crazy Taxi 2 Debug Environment
Leftovers from Crazy Taxi Naomi
The debugging environment is massive but since the entries are not all referenced, in order to run them, there is no choice but to hack them. There are a number of debugging modes related to _nlPrintf (text debugging function of the Naomi library).
As expected, there is a debug flag to switch the camera mode. By replacing the cam function with disabled functions, it is possible to view:
Naomi WARNING disclaimer function
MENU MODE error (does not work)
People Motion Test
Manual Save / Load debug
Naomi memory test --> DC HW?
The fact that they are disabled and not properly mapped (no controls) makes them difficult to control without rewriting or running them from their original "test" environment. At this point, it is impossible or difficult to set up, modify, or navigate in the various Debug Menu.
It is also possible that some of these debugging menus are left over from the first Naomi game.
You can download this build of Crazy Taxi 2 Dreamcast below
Other prototypes of Crazy Taxi 2
Crazy Taxi 2 (Apr 09, 2001 Dreamcast prototype)
I am unable to share the ISO of either of these two builds(the April one), maybe in the future. I can however talk about it and you show the prototype in video and photos.
Special thanks to:
Les prototypes avec options spéciales (Cheat, Free Camera etc.) : Crazy Taxi Dreamcast - Nigthmare Creature II Dreamcast - Sega Extreme Sports Dreamcast - Gauntlet Legends Dreamcast - South Park Rally Dreamcast - Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future Dreamcast - Fur Figthers Dreamcast - Hydro Thunder Dreamcast - Le Mans 24 Hours Dreamcast - Draconus: Cult of the Wyrm
Plus de 200 prototypes, documents, presskits ont été dumpés ou scannés, vous les retrouverez en libre téléchargement dans la rubrique "Releases de prototypes et documents"