Sega has reportedly started work on big-budget reboots of two cult titles: Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio. According to a report from Bloomberg citing “people familiar with its plans,” the Japanese game giant wants to create new games that can become global hits like Fortnite and deliver recurring revenue.
Fortnite, of course, has built its success on a number of attributes. It’s cross-platform, free-to-play, and generates money for publisher Epic Games through the use of cosmetic micro-transactions. Bloomberg doesn’t state that Sega is following this mold exactly, but it’s hard to know how you’d create a Fornite-like hit without ... replicating Fornite’s key traits.
Vague hints of Sega’s plans in this department have been appearing for a while now. In the company’s annual earnings report for the year ending March 2021, it named Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi as “examples of past IP” it wanted to utilize through reboots, remasters, and remakes. (Other games named included Rez, Panzer Dragoon, and Streets of Rage.) This same report discussed an internal “Super Game” initiative, which Sony exec Shuji Utsumi later explained would mean building multi-platform AAA titles with global releases. (He also alluded vaguely to NFTs, but honestly I think executives just say this as a reflex right now.)
Earlier this month, Utsumi said that several Super Game projects were currently underway, and Bloomberg is now saying these include Crazy Taxi and Jet Set Radio. The new Crazy Taxi game has been in development for a year, says Bloomberg, with a targeted release of 2024 to 2025. No such timeframe for Jet Set Radio is mentioned, and the publication stresses that “both new games are in the early stages of creation and could still be canceled.”
Things are still very much in development, then, but it’s tantalizing to imagine what Sega might do with these properties. Both titles arrived on Sega’s Dreamcast in 2000 (Crazy Taxi appeared in arcades the previous year) and gained cult followings for their stylish graphics and soundtracks. Crazy Taxi tasked players with delivering fares around a fictional San Francisco as quickly as possible, while Tokyo-based Jet Set Radio offered a number of game modes focused on inline skating and graffiti tagging.
Both titles are much more focused on gameplay than story, but Jet Set Radio’s use of factions and competitions seems particularly well suited to the sort of mass-participation multiplayer that has helped make Fortnite so popular. And who knows, perhaps a reboot of Crazy Taxi will mean a new theme song from The Offspring? That would certainly get the attention of anyone who played these titles on release.