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Horizon Chase Turbo

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Aquiris Game Studio
Developer: Aquiris Game Studio
Release Date: May 15, 2018

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PC Review - 'Horizon Chase Turbo'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 19, 2018 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Horizon Chase Turbo is a homage to classic 16-bit racers that defined a generation of high-speed, frenetic arcade fun.

The arcade racer is a memory in this day and age, at least on consoles and PC. Many games showcase some sensibilities of that sub-genre, but as far as pure arcade racing games go, it barely exists outside of perhaps a Dave & Buster's featuring The Fast and the Furious or the original Daytona USA. Like many indie efforts, Horizon Chase Turbo is a game that seeks to bring back this once-dead game type, and it does so in a way that makes you realize how much you may love or loathe the racing games of the 8- and 16-bit eras.

As expected, Horizon Chase Turbo is very much a pick-up-and-play affair that has no need for tutorials or even an introductory race to get your feet wet. After selecting a track and a car that is immediately recognizable but lacking a proper licensed name, you head into a lapped race against 20 other opponents. As you drive along and pass other cars, you'll pick up blue coins, which are useful at the end of the race, when your final placement is combined with the coins for a final score, which is converted to coins. Earning coins opens up more tracks and cities until you ultimately come up with 109 tracks unlocked in 48 different cities.


The adherence to the old arcade racing style is prevalent in a myriad of ways. For starters, every race starts you off in the last position. Getting past your opponents to reach 10th place is relatively easy, but moving up the ranks from there is a real fight. With no rubber-banding present, reaching the top three spots — let alone first — is a real fight. For the most part, having a heavy foot on the gas with light use of the brakes is good enough to let you get past almost all of the turns. Getting a little off track slows you down tremendously, while hitting signs or other obstacles will cause your car to do ridiculous flips, but you'll still be facing forward — albeit at a complete stop. The game lacks the ability to change camera angles, but the default position gives you a great sense of speed, and the hills and dips on the track further add to that illusion.

Another element cribbed from the classic racing games is the physics system, particularly when you collide with other cars. If you hit an opponent from the side, both cars bounce off of one another, a risky but sometimes viable strategy if you want to give yourself some breathing room. If a car bumps you from behind, which doesn't occur very often, you'll get a bit of a speed boost. Bump an opponent from behind, however, and you'll give them the boost while your vehicle significantly slows down.

For some, the intentionally wonky physics will be a source of frustration, but there's a little bit of solace in that you can see AI racers affect one another with those same physics. For others, this presents more of a fluid challenge due to the fact that the AI doesn't stick to predetermined lines and can sometimes swerve in your way. The more strategic elements of racing come into play as you try to carve out your own line on the fly. This is bolstered by the nitrous system, which only lets you use the boost three times in a race with no refills. There's also the fuel element you have to watch for, as failing to pick up those icons periodically means slowing down and eventually not being able to finish the race. All of this is helped out by the precise controls, whether you're playing with analog sticks and triggers or using the classic digital inputs.


The main mode is World Tour, where you'll spend your time unlocking tracks via the aforementioned coin system. Your performance in those races can also open up a bevy of new cars, and each has major differences in key areas, like top speed and fuel consumption. Aside from the standard lap races, you'll also open up upgrade races, which are much more demanding since you get nothing unless you take first place. While harsh, winning means that you can equip upgrades to all of your vehicles, with a max of three per vehicle, to help you get better at the other races.

As expected, the difficulty means that you'll eventually hit a progression wall if you aren't placing first all the time. Luckily, the coin requirements for unlocking a new stage are fairly low, so placing in the single digits and getting a decent amount of blue coins will ensure that you'll see a decent chunk of the game before being forced to replay races. With that said, you need to be quite good in order to see the final stages, as replaying the old levels only grants you additional coins if you improve your placement. Even then, you only receive the difference in coins between your new and previous scores.

The game has a number of other modes that match up with a typical arcade racing title. Tournament opens up early in your World Tour and lets you compete in several grand prix-style races over several pre-selected courses in three difficulty levels. It's a great alternative when you're stuck in World Tour mode, but the lack of coins to earn here can be a drag. Endurance has you going through all of the tracks with the same fuel tank persisting throughout, making fuel pick-ups more of a priority. There's also local multiplayer for 2-4 players, and if you can get together a bunch of like-minded friends who love classic racers, this mode serves is a perfect reminder of why this was so fun. Sadly, there's no online multiplayer, but considering how the general public may consider this a niche interest, that isn't a total loss.


As far as the presentation goes, Horizon Chase Turbo adds some modern touches to an otherwise throwback aesthetic. The sound effects are good, but the soundtrack is the real star, as the composer for the original Top Gear game has come back to deliver a slew of synth tracks that sound perfect. There's enough here to remind you of classic games, but they're also good tracks on their own merit.

Graphically, the game goes for a low-poly look for the backgrounds while being more detailed for the cars, but it still doesn't rival the amount of detail seen in some of the big-budget racers out there. That low-poly look is offset nicely by the use of bold, bright colors that make the game pop. The tracks also adhere to the old-school mentality; the infinite horizon of the city shifts horizontally as you race, and the tracks use a striped, two-color tone that still does a great job of conveying how quickly you're moving.

Horizon Chase Turbo is a throwback racer for those who want to race with near-impossible odds at all times. Constantly starting at the back of the pack, the aggressive AI opposition, and the exaggerated physics system require nothing less than pure skill and tremendous luck if players want to get close to first place in any races. At the same time, the generous progression system and easy-to-handle controls mean that you can get quite far before you need to start being perfect. With local multiplayer and an excellent presentation in tow, Horizon Chase Turbo is a must-have for those who dearly miss old racing games.

Score: 8.0/10



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