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Retro Review: Hydro Thunder Hurricane

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ht_hurricane_boxWhen I think of summer I think of warm sunshine, outdoor activities and blockbuster movies.  It doesn’t seem I’m alone, either.  Developer Vector Unit has taken all of the thrills of the classic arcade boating racer and compiled a sequel that delivers on all counts.  The only issue I can see is that it holds quite strong in the nostalgia factor and it may be difficult to convice those not familiar with the original that this is nothing more than just another arcade racer.

Hydro Thunder always seemed to me like the popular Nintendo series Wave Racedone right.  You race with boats and therefore are confined to the way a boat moves along water (and in the air in this title’s case).  It takes some getting used to, it rides too close to both racing sim and arcade racer at times, but once you’ve mastered the basics it really opens up.  There’s a little bit for everyone here including traditional races and tournament cups, missions where you have to drive through rings along the track, and “gauntlet” missions where almost every corner and main drag is loaded with explosions.  Most people may take a moment or two with the various modes, but the draw of Hurricane is clearly in the traditional boat races against 16 opponents.

As a fan of the original arcade, I can’t seem to remember doing anything more than racing against people.  The new rings and gauntlet modes were probably good ideas in the development studio, but seem to exploit the more annoying aspects of boat racing.  Anyone who’s driven a boat knows that it’s all about anticipating what’s coming and trying to react appropriately, which means that tracks with obstacles that come out of nowhere seem unfair.  With the length of the tracks and the fact that most require multiple laps, it’s just frustrating to do a near perfect run and then have it all taken away at the end due to one or two screw ups.  For me, this is where the extra modes, while appreciated, ultimately prove to be unnecessary and had me shifting all my focus to racing.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 11, 2014 at 11:00 am