Hydro Thunder Hurricane Review
By - Craig H.
Hydro Thunder brings a great amount of nostalgia for arcade fans. The original water racer was an arcade classic and Hydro Thunder Hurricane does not stray too far from the proven path. The game keeps the same arcade feel and reminds you of what you have been missing since the last time you visited the arcade.
The controls take a bit to get use to and for this reason the game gets off to a bumpy start. Picking up the game for the first time with the first available boats will send you crashing into the walls and have you asking yourself, “What happened to this franchise?” Luckily if you give it a few races you start to get the hang of the cornering and start unlocking newer, better boats. Trickled along the track are boost pods that are essential to victory. Boost does more than just make your boat go faster though. Boost can be used to help take corners better and can be used to jump (boost jump) to secret areas and shortcuts. Managing and using the boost where appropriate will make the difference between finishing in first or fifth. Also along the tracks are track shifter pods which are used to open up hidden paths or create waves to throw off competitors.
The race mode in Hydro Thunder Hurricane is basically a game of catch-up. Each race begins with the player in last place and you must weave and boost your way to the front of the pack before reaching the checkered flag. Along with the classic race mode Hydro Thunder Hurricane comes with 2 extra modes which include “Ring Master” and “Gauntlet”. Ring Master tasks you with directing the boat through rings while trying to get the fastest lap time. Each ring that you successfully navigate through gains the player boost. If you miss a ring you will be hit with a time penalty and lose your boost. This mode must be played with the best handling boat in order to achieve the greatest success. After flying off a jump you only have a second to direct your boat to the ring waiting below. If you choose a boat with bad handling there is no way for you to navigate your boat in time. Playing through all the Ring Master events can help you both in online and offline races. Since you are forced to follow the path that is dictated by the rings you will discover new, quicker paths that can be used in the other modes. The second extra mode, Gauntlet, places explosive barrels in your path while trying to get to the finish in the fastest possible time. This mode can be a bit more frustrating than fun. With the waves bouncing and the camera constantly adjusting to jumps it can be impossible to see the barrels before it’s too late. Luckily you can hit the back button to reset the boat and boost back up to speed quickly. In this mode you do not have to try and pick up boost pods since the game constantly gives you boost just for surviving. This mode is easily the weakest part of the package and luckily you only have 8 levels to get through.
Winning events across all 3 modes nets the player points. Points are used to unlock new boats, tracks, race events, and championship modes. It will take a considerable amount of time to unlock everything in the game and even more if you want to place first on all events. Each event time will be placed in online leaderboards for all to see.
Racing against friends is essential for any racing game to have staying power and Hydro Thunder Hurricane does everything it can to provide players as many options as possible. Offline you have the ability to play with up to 4-players via splitscreen. Online you can jump into quick matches, create custom matches, create party play options if your friends have the game, and leaderboards to gain bragging rights. The online works great and currently has a great community with matches always available.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane has a rough start but after unlocking better boats you will get great enjoyment from the game. The Gauntlet mode could have been better but the Ring Master mode does a good job picking up the slack. Online seems to have a good following and 4-player splitscreen is a blast with friends. The game caters to the arcade racing crowd with the controls being a bit too loose for the hardcore racing fans. Hydro Thunder Hurricane is available on the Xbox 360 for $15 and is a solid pick-up for anyone who loved the original arcade classic.
- Fun classic arcade racing
- 4 player split-screen is a blast with friends
- Online matches are readily available
- Nostalgia factor
- Controls take some getting use too (rough start to the game)
- Gauntlet mode is more frustrating than fun
- Controls may be a bit too loose for hardcore racing fans