It’s difficult to criticize a game that embraces the coin-op experience, designed to thrill players on a single-serving, quarter-based crux. But even in all its fast-paced ferocity, “Crazy Taxi 2” landed on consoles rather than in the arcade circuit. And playing in hour-long super-chunks is like juggling fire — you run the risk of multiple demons burning your joystick-thrusting thumbs.

Like the original “Taxi,” two drive-about maps are supplied: “Around Apple” and “Small Apple.” You hold the steering wheel of a souped-up, speed-fest roadster, careening through the downtown traffic arena of a virtual New York City. Pedestrians scream and gridlock chaos ensues.

The game’s lightning-fast action supplies short-lived thrills, offering an outstanding outlet for work-related stress — high octane, of course — but lacks play of any real substance.

Thus, in observation of such a fault, the programmers at Sega devised a package of skill-popped challenges. Try “Crazy Golf,” for example, where you push the gas pedal to the floor and punch a Jolly Green Giant-sized golf ball. Then “Crazy Balloon” requests that you burst an entire court of gargantuan birthday accessories, violently ramming each with your front bumper. You can also participate in “Crazy Jumps” and “Crazy Hurdles” — and regardless of how easy slaughtering a collection of pink bubbles may seem, a challenge does rest in completing each crazy task. Again, though, it is a brief challenge.

This sequel also allows for multiple passenger pick-ups — like a quartet of cheerleaders or a duo of escaped convicts. And even with a pounding sound track featuring the Offspring and Methods of Mayhem, it’s easier to find comfort in the vintage, unforgettable experience that the first “Crazy Taxi” supplied.

Ahh, road rage with a rock-tuned radio.

Jon M. Gibson investigates the triumphs — and pitfalls — of games and other technological poundcakes. E-mail him at [email protected].

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