Review XBLA: Hydro Thunder Hurricane

It’s been over 10 years since its last splash and now Hydro Thunder Hurricane makes another lightning fast appearance as the second title released in the XBLA Summer of Arcade line-up.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane is a HD sequel/remake of the original with a few small improvements but still stays loyal to its coin-op roots; it also delivers an authentic sweat inducing ride by never giving up any of its previous arcade insanity. There’s a selection of things to accomplish in the game such as completing several different Race Modes, conquering Championships, unlocking an array of nifty boats, livery’s and courses as well as getting your GT into the Leaderboards, alongside this the games experience is abit like riding a peeved bucking bronco – you’re going to be holding on tight to win.

In Races and Championships the trick is to drive over boost power-ups to add boost to your meter, this transforms the engines on your ride. When that happens you can hold the A button to boost constantly or tap it to manoeuvre yourself quickly round objects or correct your course while in mid-air. You can also pull of nifty jumps when you have filled your boost bar, press the X button for a Boost Jump and experience some silly arcade style air antics while you race or just bunny hop over the competition. Similar to alot of games from the N64/Dreamcast period, the popular trend of craftily hidden short-cuts are all there to be discovered. Best of all these aren’t just any samey short cuts you can find in most racing games but the ingenious type – that same type were you’d have to hit three jumps then boost left through a cave and then whizz past a giant Greek gods strop. Well I’d normally say ‘scratch that last line’ but Hydro Thunder’s courses are full of crazy beasts and objects, which adds more of a distraction to the environment while racing. The game looks fantastic in HD and along with the extra content; it should be enough to bring back the fans of the original.

As you progress through the game you will discover locations of short-cuts, multiple power-ups, the ten Hydro Thunder Logos placed on each track and some avatar awards, giving you plenty to look for and collect. If you want to progress through the latter difficulties in the game you will need to become even more determined to win as the races become much more brutal. This is guaranteed to test your reflexes whatever level of skill you’re at, this will have you practicing certain tracks for a while to beat Expert difficulty and clock-up some more game time.

The other Single Player modes, Ring Master and the Gauntlet are great fun to play and give you an opportunity to take a break from the games races and championships. Ring Master mode allows you to take part in a set of increasingly difficult challenges. This involves you darting through a succession of rings placed throughout the tracks you’ve raced on but they have a couple of minor changes. As you pass through the rings and keep hold of your streak you will be given boost to use, unfortunately you’ll be forced to keep correcting your course after this and hit every ring or you’ll end up with no boost and a slower time. This mode is original and fun but will have you pushing harder to hit every ring and beat your friends times on the XBL Leaderboards.

Gauntlet mode is a little bit more risky than Ring Master mode as it contains more dangers, multiple explosive barrels float around the course making race lines and short-cuts abit more chancy. This ups the excitement when you’re boosting through the tracks for the best times and can create some hairy moments, these two modes are perfect for a game like this and adds boat-loads more fun alongside the Race and Championship modes.

The Multiplayer is quite light and fun considering everyone’s competing against each other and the Multiplayer modes apart from Race’s are a little different to what you’ll be expecting, for example Rubber Ducky mode is where one chosen player from each side must ride the rubber duck to the finish line no matter what the distraction. It comes across as a little barmy at first but that adds abit more character to the short races and helps keep it lively and bubbly. Split-Screen is available and works well considering the speed of the game, you will also keep the credits you earn online when you place in the points giving you two fair and balanced options to proceed through the game.

Compared to the previous Summer of Arcade Title Limbo, Hydro Thunder Hurricane offers a more comprehensive experience with the different Race Modes and Championships. You also have the multiple multiplayer modes to explore and an array of things to unlock alongside a vibrant and clear setting to the game. It’s good to see a swift change of pace  with Limbo and Hydro Thunder Hurricane offering a fast and funky racing experience, this will definitely stimulate and test your reflexes, but at 1200 MSP you might want to wait till it drops in price as it’s a little costly for what it is.

Score: 7.4/10

Published by: Microsoft Game Studios

Developed by: Vector Unit

Genre: Racing Action

Number of Players: 1-8

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