I didn’t realize how much I played arcade racers growing up, from sinking dozens of quarters into arcade cabinets at the long since closed Goodtimes in Somerville, MA, to marathon sessions of Cruis’N USA with my buddies on my Nintendo 64. Since those days, most racing games focus around karts or realism, but Aquiris Game Studio is looking to take a different lane with Horizon Chase Turbo. A love letter to the arcade racers of the past, taking the high speed racing you remember and polishing it up with bulky HD polygons that are reminiscent of the era they are meant to pay homage to while creating something unique and stylistic in it’s own right. Though, does Horizon Chase Turbo have what it takes to cross the finish line or does it run out of fuel along the way?
Out of the gate, Horizon Chase Turbo starts you off with only one mode available, though the others will open shortly afterwards. Campaign mode is where you’ll spend most of your time playing, completing the World Tour and if you’re up for it, the subsequent campaigns available as paid DLC. The World Tour is full of racing content with progression paced well throughout the road to the final stop in Hawaii. With twelve countries around the world hosting a half dozen or so races per country, in addition to upgrade races in each country, there’s a ton of asphalt to cover and checkered flags to reach in the main solo mode available.
World Tour also rallies up a good sense of progression, I always felt as though I was working towards new unlocks that didn’t feel meaningless– new cars, car upgrades, and new locales to test my adroitness. Not only does finishing in first advance your career in World Tour and allow you to travel to new parts of the game’s globe, there are also tokens you can gather within races that will allow you to open up more illusive cars, and in-game achievements if that’s your thing. Completing a race with all of the tokens acquired and finishing in first will result in a super trophy, as opposed to just a first place finish trophy. This progression system adds more replayability to Horizon Chase Turbo while also allowing those who may not care to one hundred percent each set of cups a chance to continue to play without worrying about collecting everything along the way. Trying to go for all of the tokens on a race was a satisfying mix of remembering where they were as well as quick reflexes to turn into them.
Aside from unlocking most of the hidden cars available to race with, World Tour also puts you on a path to unlocking the other game modes– Playground, Tournament, and Endurance. Each of these modes offers up something unique to the experience. Playground is a limited-time rotating set of races with game-changing mechanics enabled. Tournament mode is comprised of four race cups that you’ll want to compete in back-to-back, while Endurance mode is a string of races where you have to finish within the top few spots in order to advance through the gauntlet of races. These modes can be played solo or with up to four friends for local split-screen play.
There’s no denying that there is a bevy of content to fuel your racing euphoria, but the high-speed tire to track tango aren’t the only thing worth mentioning about Horizon Chase Turbo. With the game building on the history of arcade racers it was inspired by, the art style in which Horizon Chase Turbo exists in is a place where chunky polygons and smooth color palettes create something vibrant and eye-popping, while simplistic in design. The blur of color when hitting high speeds was just as thrill evoking as the race itself. Not to mention the soundtrack oozes nostalgia while standing alone as its own foot tapping delicacy– I only wish there was more music to match the over 100 tracks within the World Tour.
The gameplay in Horizon Chase Turbo is simple, satisfying arcade racing– no frills, no gimmicks, just speed and glory. With your pedal to the floor, your brakes in case the turn is too tight to speed around, limited nitro for a little boost, and a fuel gauge you’ll want to keep an eye on– Horizon Chase Turbo does a wonderful job making you feel the velocity of the races your driving in. Aside from the other drivers, the game builds tension with limited boosts and a fuel gauge you have to be cognizant of so you don’t wind up in last or disqualified. At first I never noticed too much of a problem with the fuel gauge, but as I progressed in World Tour, I noticed the reliance on picking up the fuel canisters strewn about the courses as vital to placing on the final lap.
Just like the era of games that Horizon Chase Turbo takes cues from, there’s one I wish it overlooked. Multiplayer exists in Horizon Chase Turbo but just like the games of yesteryear, they are meant for local couch co-op sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of games with local multiplayer, especially in an age where that option is fleeting, I just wish there was also the option for online races.
Horizon Chase Turbo builds upon that high speed arcade racing bliss you grew up on and adds modern day polish. If you’re looking for something groundbreaking and game changing, this may not be the car you want to drive, but if you’re looking for an experience that aims to capture what makes arcade racers great without the cheesiness of the 90s– Horizon Chase Turbo not only delivers but potentially defines what arcade racers are for this generation. Complete with a flourishing singleplayer suite of content, memorable original music, and addictive gameplay that you can jump in and jump out of for both short and extended sessions, Horizon Chase Turbo can satisfy your need for speed.
Horizon Chase Turbo is available now on Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam. We reviewed Horizon Chase Turbo on the Xbox One with a code provided by the developer.
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