Game That Tune

Crazy Taxi

Youthful Indiscretions

A ’90s pop-punk classic sets the stage for Crazy Taxi’s rebelliousness.

By Derrick Sanskrit • September 12, 2013

Game music has the power to earworm its way into your heart long after you put the controller down. Each week in Game That Tune, we highlight a great tune from a great game (or a great tune from a just-okay game).

The year is 1999. Britney Spears is making lockers sexy again with her breakout video for “Baby, One More Time,” played over and over again on Total Request Live with Carson Daly. MTV doesn’t “get” my friends. We’re blasting Useless I.D. and The Ataris on our Discmen because we think we’re tough but really we’re just angry about having feelings. I walk through a bowling alley one Saturday night and hear a familiar wail from the back room. “Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya!,” the glowing room shouts. I look inside, and an unfamiliar steering wheel calls out to me. “Hey! Come over. Have some fun with Crrrrrrrrrazy Taxi!” I can do crazy. In go my quarters and out comes that familiar wail, the plaintive declaration of youthful rebellion from The Offspring, “All I Want.”

Has there ever been a song that more immediately and directly spoke to aimless teenage rebellion? No metaphor, no slowly building intro, just a furious exclamation of decisive freewill in the face of “the man.” Not exactly the kind of song you’d expect from a guy with a master’s degree in molecular biology who just this year published a paper on human-like microRNA in the genes of HIV. This flagrant disregard for societal conventions played perfectly to both angsty suburban teens and a wild arcade game about driving people to the brand-name retail chain of their choice. “So back off your rules and back off your jive.” Yeah, man. “I’m sick of not living to stay alive.” Yeah, man! “Leave me alone. Not asking a lot, just don’t want to be controlled.” YEAH, MAN! THAT’S ALL I WA–oops, I just ran over like six people. At least I made it to Pizza Hut in good time.

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36 Responses to “Youthful Indiscretions”

  1. God I loved this game.  In my local arcade I’d watch transfixed (I was an adult at this point, mind you) while the local Crazy Taxi master, using the speed boost trick (which involved a lot of dramatic slamming of the shifter and gas pedal) would rack up enough accumulated minutes to run for a smoke break and would let me play (not well) until he got back.

    • SamPlays says:

      Badass.

      • jaen says:

        like Ann answered I am inspired that a stay at home mom can earn $9137 in 4 weeks on the computer. have a peek at these guys

        w­w­w.Y­A­D­7.c­o­m

    • Effigy_Power says:

      The age of arcade rolemodels. Now that is something well in the past, isn’t it? Local legends, talked about with hushed reverence, their records forever engraved into those noise, bleepy machines with a cryptic 3 letter code, usually ASS or TIT. Dudes (at least 97% of them at least) who would play Tempest with a shitty fountain soda in one hand and the undying, almost messianic adoration of a bunch of 12 year olds in the other. Not that I am nostalgic about it, but it’s a very definite sign that I grew up in a somewhat different time than kids today. Freaks and Geeks actually happened to some of us and that’s kind of weird to think about.
      Especially when you think that people get banned from XBL for cheating in arcade games and giving themselves massive scores. Where’s the ridiculous integrity? People used to ruin their entire late teens and early adult lives on these machines and now you can just pay some hacker to cheat your scores? Pshaw, I say, now sounding exactly like my father. In our times the gamers were much more desperate and self-destructive.
      That said, all the arcade legends I knew grew up to be incredible burnouts and hopefully that’s not indicative. It was a fairly small sample size.
      Now back to the topic in hand.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        We are talking about people with enough time on their hand to pump quarters into a machine designed to defeat them as fast as possible without seeming like a total ripoff.

      • CrabNaga says:

        I feel kind of cheated out on the quintessential arcade experience. I don’t think there were any legit arcades around where I grew up, so I only recall playing Mortal Kombat 3 and some sweet 2D dogfighter game at the local bowling alley. And now arcades are dying and the sort that still exist (like Dave and Buster’s) seem to have axed an entire section of arcade favorites from their floorspace.

        There are still SOME arcade legends, but they seem to be reserved for fighting game players in major metropolitan areas (NY, LA, SF), and their local status is kind of degraded since Evo kind of blew up in popularity after they started streaming the matches. 

  2. fieldafar says:

    I’ve tried out the Crazy Taxi demo on XBLA… and it just wasn’t the same. I mean, sure the original visuals and gameplay was still there, but the soundtrack was replaced by generic stock music and the in-game product placement was removed. I mean, if I can’t drive my passenger to the nearest Levi’s Store while listening to Bad Religion, then why should I even bother?! 

  3. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    I played a bunch of this on a friend’s Dreamcast which had the Offspring soundtrack intact, and it was a ton of fun.

  4. PaganPoet says:

    I must say, I’m not a fan of this particular genre of music. I, too, disdained bubblegum pop in the late nineties. I was an insufferable pretentious teenager all too eager to label anything that was remotely successful as “mainstream crap” and not even give it a chance. But for me, pop punk was just as bad. I was a sensitive boy, and my tastes veered towards the singer-songwriter variety. I have the Tori Amos and PJ Harvey albums to prove it.

    Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I’ve grown to appreciate the bubblegum pop of the late 90s for what it is (particularly Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.” That song is quite literally perfect.), but pop punk still evades me. I hate the fake teenage-boy voice the singers put on. I hate the repetitive chord progressions. I hate the bratty lyrics.

    • Don’t forget the faux-English accents too!

    • mad says:

      And the one same boring drumline in all the songs!

    • caspiancomic says:

       Man, I feel almost exactly the same way, with a caveat. The whole Offspring/Green Day/Sum 41/Pop Punk thing was all the rage when I was supposedly the perfect age for being susceptible to it, but it never really spoke to me. Maybe it’s because I was relatively well adjusted even back then, so the whole “fuck the world, nobody gets me!” thing didn’t speak to my experiences, or something. It certainly wasn’t because my taste was too good, because I listened to garbage back then, just not this specific type of garbage.

      But the Crazy Taxi soundtrack is my jam. It must specifically be because I like the games so much. Any Offspring song that wasn’t part of the Crazy Taxi soundtrack just gives me that “oh hey, this sucks” sensation that most music from that genre gives me, but if I hear a Crazy Taxi song I’m like “oh hey, fuck yes!”

  5. duwease says:

    What’s with the green-haired guy?  EIGHT ABS?!?!  THAT’S CARAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAZY!!!

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      What do you think he spends all his CA-RAAAAAZY money on?

      It’s definitely not shirts, I’ll tell you that!

  6. CrabNaga says:

    I think this song perfectly captures the essence of Crazy Taxi in much the same way that Goldfinger’s Superman captures the essence of the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater: high-energy superpowered irreverence (or is it ambivalence?).

  7. boardgameguy says:

    my only quibble is with the claim that All I Want is the most immediate and directly speaking song to youthful rebellion. for me, that song has been Seek and Destroy by Iggy Pop from the moment I heard it the first time

  8. signsofrain says:

    Next to Powerstone 2 this was the Dreamcast game I played the most of. Perfectly suited to the Dreamcast controller too. The moves for pulling off the boosts and drifts became muscle memory. I played the game for the first time in years a few months ago (having just ordered a Dreamast VGA box so the DC could live in my computer-based media setup) and I was boosting and drifting like I’d never stopped playing. 

    And oh, Derrick, you can’t run people over in Crazy Taxi, they all dodge out of the way at the last second. You sure can upset their orange carts and terraces though!

    • caspiancomic says:

       Power Stone 2 and Crazy Taxi are two of my faves as well, with Jet Set Radio rounding out the top 3. Not controversial choices, but winners all the same.

      (I also legitimately like the Sonic Adventure games, even though it’s become fashionable to think less of them these days.)

      • signsofrain says:

        Oh yeah! I gotta play Jet Set Radio again, I remember that being quite a bit of fun! And I totally feel you about Sonic. The first Sonic Adventure was a damn good game (it helped that those were the best console graphics I’d ever seen when it came out), I actually beat it! The second I got stuck flying around digging for gems and just kind of gave up on it. 

        Since then there’ve been more misses than hits for Sonic though. The next Sonic game I actually enjoyed was Sonic Generations. (I’m starting to play Sonic 4 and enjoying that too)

  9. The Mike Gold Show says:

    SHUT UP AND MOVE YO’ BUTT

  10. SamPlays says:

    In addition to curing AIDS, Dexter Holland has his own hot sauce. Offspring consumed my Grade 9 class. Green Day the previous year. These sort of things belong in the past.

  11. George_Liquor says:

    This series is certainly a hoot, but I think it was made instantly obsolete by GTA3.

  12. Smilner says:

    I loved the game, but at the arcade, they always had Crazy Taxi right next to Top Skater, with the badass Pennywise soundtrack.  Have to say, Top Skater ended up eating all my quarters.  As a 16-year-old skater whose knees had already nearly given up on him, it allowed me to dream of what could have been.

  13. NakedSnake says:

    Dammit Derrick, now I’m just going to listen to Offspring hits all evening. They sure captured the essential fun of being young and energetic.

    • NakedSnake says:

      Nitro: Youth Energy, The Meaning of Life, and Staring at the Sun are all nice complements to All I Want.

  14. Toparaman says:

    Why are punk singers so damn smart?