A Simpler Time
There was a time when arcade games represented the pinnacle of what the gaming industry had to offer. Home consoles did their best to replicate the arcade experience but for the real deal you had to leave your house and pump money into arcade machines, surrounded by spotty teenagers and dangerous levels of cigarette smoke.
Fast forward to today of course, and home consoles are sitting pretty on top of the gaming world, but there are those of us who long for a simpler time when men were men and women were largely unattainable. And that’s where Horizon Chase Turbo power slides in.
Gentlemen, start your engines!
As an unabashed arcade-style racer, Horizon Chase Turbo brilliantly channels the spirit of Out Run, Daytona USA, Top Gear and the like, but still manages to feel like a thoroughly modern game. There are hours of gameplay on offer in the World Tour mode, where you’ll need to place high enough and accumulate enough points to unlock the next stage/country/car etc. Again, this couldn’t be further from a Gran Turismo style sim, but there are even very light RPG elements (because every game needs them in 2018) where you can choose a stats buff for your vehicles if you’re successful in designated Upgrade Races.
The scale of the challenge is increased by the collectibles littered around the tracks. Collect every single coin in one race, as well as finishing in first place and you’ll win the “Super Trophy” for that course. You’ll also need to collect fuel as you go round or else you’ll run out and end the race prematurely. Worth noting here, since I’m writing this review for Nintendad, that the fuel collection mechanic was the only aspect of the game that prohibited my 5 year old from enjoying it fully – the need to collect the fuel tanks was just a bit too tricky for the young ‘un, mostly on account of the speed you’re travelling at.
I Feel The Need…
For those of us with fully developed twitch reflexes though, the speed of Horizon Chase Turbo is breathtaking. Not since F-Zero on the SNES has bombing around a corner full-throttle felt so satisfying. Hitting nitro and then weaving around opponents to claim 1st place at the last second is one of the purest forms of fun you can have in gaming. Even when you do inevitably bump into another car or hit an obstacle, the loss of momentum is momentary, so you always feel like you’ve got a chance to make up for your mistake.
Racing in this game is an absolute joy and with the wealth of content in the single player modes, as well as split-screen multiplayer for up to 4 people and friend leaderboards, there is an abundance of quality and challenge to keep you coming back.
Slick Rick The Ruler
The sheer quality of the gameplay is matched by the glorious presentation of the game. The visuals are slick – low-poly but gorgeous in their own hyper-stylised way, with a cleanliness that makes judging turns at high speed as easy it can be. The music also does a fantastic job of paying homage to the era this game was inspired by, whilst somehow bringing it bang up to date.
And that’s arguably the greatest trick Horizon Chase Turbo pulls – taking romantic conceits of the past and using modern techniques to better them in every single way.
There are of course a few minor niggles with the game, aside from the barrier-to-entry for young kids I mentioned earlier, but none of them impacted my experience of the game too negatively. For example, there’s a bit of background pop-in on the horizon at times, but this is rendered barely noticeable given the speed of the game. Another petty little annoyance was the fact that the horn (which isn’t really needed) is controlled by pushing in the left analog stick, which I found myself inadvertently doing several times when cornering and the sound of the horn did somewhat take me out of the flow-state I was otherwise enjoying. Even this though is probably more a fault of the Pro Controller or the fact that I’m a big, ham-fisted oaf.
I guess when you find yourself half-apologising for finding flaws in a game, you know you’re onto a winner. That being said, the game did freeze on a couple of occasions, which is obviously a more serious issue but one I’d hope Aquiris can patch out pretty quickly.
Pimp My Ride
Overall, while Horizon Chase Turbo doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel, it does take a clapped-out banger of a genre and give it a fresh lick of paint and a tune-up. It’s unfortunate that it released around the same time as the behemoth that is Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, so might not get the shine it deserves. Even still I’m finding myself wanting to put Smash down and pick this back up, and there’s probably no greater compliment I can give.