4 Wheel Thunder is a simplistic racing experience with menus offering you only four choices: practice, arcade indoor, arcade outdoor, and championship. And the whole game has a simplistic, fun, arcade racer feel.
The indoor circuit offers six levels, and the outdoor circuit offers ten. At the outset, there are only eight stock vehicles available, ranging from monster trucks to quads. If you are successful in the championship mode, you can unlock secret cars and upgraded versions of the game's stock vehicles.
Early tracks are mostly circular, with an ample number of curves and hairpins. Later levels feature a multitude of forks and shortcuts.
The game itself plays like other similar racers: constant acceleration, bouncy handling, and lots of level shortcuts. As with Hydro Thunder boost comes in two flavors; red and blue. The red boost icons give you 9 seconds of boost, whilst the blue icons give 4 seconds of precious boost. You can also play each of 4 Wheel Thunder's main activities with a friend also there are four play modes for two-player combat: bomb, bomb race, balloon, and tag battle.
Upon release, the game was blasted for it's punishing difficulty. The retail release however toned down the challenge to a reasonable level (that is if you raced almost perfectly) and made it possible to unlock all the tracks and vehicles.
Early in development, the game was known as Xceleration.