Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire’s gameplay is pretty run of the mill, but it’s fun and charming regardless.
Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is a clicker game for iOS and Android, based on the arcade driving game that released on the Dreamcast in 2000. It does nothing to pretend it is not a clicker game. In the game you are presented with a map and one driver, and you tap on the screen to pick up passengers and drop them off. You also earn money passively over time and when you aren’t playing, but if you’re actively playing you can sometimes earn more money by doing stunts, also achieved by tapping things and then watching an animation. You use the money you earn to buy more cars and upgrade your current cars to earn more money. Sometimes when you upgrade your car, you earn a new driver. You can put up to five cars on a map, and there are three maps in total. The point of the game is to just keep tapping the screen, whether that means picking up passengers or upgrading your cars.
I wasn’t at all enthused about this once I realized how rote it was. My hazy memories of the console versions of Crazy Taxi were all about the music and the driving. I remember my cousin bringing over his Dreamcast and letting me play this game where I was allowed to create a huge amount of destruction while the dulcet tones of The Offspring graced my ears. I was ten—it left an impression. Gazillionaire won’t let you drive or cause much destruction, and there’s no licensed punk music to be found [Correction 1pm: A representative from Sega Networks tells me there are actually two licensed songs from The Offspring, so if you’re into The Offspring, look out for that], but it manages to retain the some of the personality from the console game I once played.
Its strongest feature is its characters. I like Underwood, a driver I unlocked for the second map, Glitter Marina, who is obsessed with horror movies. I like Bernard, who met his wife at a NOFX concert. I like Melt, who dresses like David Bowie. I like Berry, who made an unfunny but charming pun referring to DJ Khaled’s catchphrase “You just played yourself.” Earning new drivers is fun, more fun even than earning lots of money, which you will do pretty quickly. I earned $30,000 overnight, but new drivers are much rarer. It is possible to earn drivers through upgrading your car, but those drops are infrequent or tied to story beats. You can also earn them through scratch cards, and the characters you get from there are random. There’s bit of a gachapon mechanic, and lord knows I am unable to resist the call of random, frustrating gachapon drops. But because of how much care went into these characters I’m eager to see the many I haven’t unlocked yet.
I even like the game’s de facto villain, the CEO of a ridesharing app that’s killing taxis. He’s funny enough that I’m eagerly awaiting his next appearance. I’m a sucker for Silicon Valley parodies and fictional scenarios that let me take these guys down a peg.
This game is like popcorn—you play it without even knowing you’re playing it, but its presence is not unwelcome. Crazy Taxi Gazillionaire is not reinventing the wheel (har har). But it is giving me just enough to want to keep playing, and for an iPhone clicker game, that’ll do.