Ever since I first laid hands on a game controller and got to grips with the original Ridge Racer back in the days of PS1, I’ve always had an interest in arcade racers. Sure the simulation aspects of games like Forza Motorsport, DiRT Rally, and Gran Turismo offer a sublime and true to life racing experience, but that doesn’t mean we should take away from the defined experience of arcade racers. With the recent arrival of Horizon Chase Turbo arriving on Nintendo Switch, I jumped in to see if the magic created by games such as the aforementioned Ridge Racer or the iconic Outrun could shine through once more?
Spoiler alert – it can and it does!
Brought to us from the creative minds over at Aquiris Game Studio, Horizon Chase Turbo is a game that looks to bring back that classic old school ’90s feel once more and having spent several hours racing towards the horizon on the winding tracks, it’s fair to say they’ve done a damn good job of achieving it.
Before we get into the reasons why this latest racer brings that fantastic nostalgic kick though, let me tell you more about the game and indeed the modes you’ll be getting involved in, of which there are multiple to get stuck into. Tournament, Playground and Endurance are all well worth a look and offer their own unique qualities, however before you can go exploring the various options you’ll need to crank out some good performances and progress through to different stages of the World Tour mode; essentially the Arcade/Career mode of Horizon Chase Turbo.
World Tour takes place across 12 different countries and 100 odd stages, but to progress through each of them you’ll need to muster up a minimum number of points on any given race before unlocking the next, something that usually a fifth-place finish or better can achieve. Of course, as you progress so does the difficulty and to keep up with the faster machines, you’ll need to take part in and win the upgrade races that appear throughout, ensuring your fleet of racing machinery expands from the initial two vehicles you start with.
As for the Tournament mode – after unlocking it through World Tour, players will choose between Amateur, Professional and Master Tournaments, with each one bringing a series of races with the overall winner the one with the most points at the end. It’s basic stuff but it works and anyone looking for some quick racing fun will find just what they are looking for here. Playground mode on the other hand is the one that changes things up the most with a rotation of game modes and settings explored as you play each week; expect reversed tracks, different weather effects and so on.
The final mode available, Endurance, is probably the most self-explanatory, and in this mode players will be jumping in for some long-winded races. Gaining access to Endurance mode in the first place is going to require you to complete the World Tour mode first or to win the Master Tournament – neither of which are done very quickly or easily – so you’ll need to invest plenty of time and top performances to get there.
For anyone who’s dabbled in the classic ’90s racers, you’ll easily remember just how difficult they often were, with the slightest collisions seeing you bounce off other vehicles or track barriers before coming to a near halt, whilst sharp corners and weaving opponents would bring about the requirement of lightning reactions and a fair bit of luck if you hoped to scrape across the finish line in a respectable position. This much is also true for Horizon Chase Turbo, and for those that remember such games fondly, this is one racer that will reignite a fantastic sense of nostalgia as you let go of the accelerator to drift around a corner, and watch the scenery go by at what feels like breakneck speed, avoiding and overtaking other vehicles in the process.
In each race players start off at the back of the 20 vehicle pack – all of which are essentially real models but with different names for licensing purposes – and after a countdown, and a chance to hit a perfect start by pressing the accelerator at just the right time, will find yourself thrust into a multi-lap circuit race with the goal of chasing down the elusive first position. So far, so racing.
Besides worrying about the overall finishing position however, there are also a number of collectibles within each track such as fuel and tokens for players to go for; collecting all of them will result in the maximum points yield should you also end with a first place finish. It’s not easy to do though and remembering where they are will require more than just giving the track a once over if you want to go all out for the Super Trophy that’s awarded to those who have mastered any given course.
One of the most exciting features of Horizon Chase Turbo however is that no matter what mode you are playing, you can play with up to four players in split screen. It’s a rare sight to see multiplayer so heavily included should you so wish for it to be, but it’s a welcome sight and the implementation here is a joy to behold. It goes without saying that racing with a friend is a huge positive.
There is much to like about Horizon Chase Turbo. The modes are brilliant, the gameplay is fantastic, and the content is plentiful throughout, however there is one final area that deserves a mention. That is of the visuals and audio which manage to set the tone and feel of this fantastic racer perfectly. Everything about this game screams 1990s and if I didn’t know better, It would be easy to confuse it as a spiritual successor to that of the aforementioned Ridge Racer. As any slightly ageing gamer will know, this is the best possible comparison I can give for this well-crafted gem of a game.
If you enjoy racing, feel the need to head back to something that brings back classic retro infused racing action and want to have a blast doing so, then download Horizon Chase Turbo now.
Release date: November 2018
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: Aquiris Game Studio