The Nintendo Switch has no shortage of great arcade racers to choose from, including the obvious favorite Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. But what if you're in an old-school frame of mind? Well, Outrun from the Sega Ages line isn't available just yet; and while there are a few others to choose from, Horizon Chase Turbo may be the closest thing to filling that void. Why, you ask? Probably because of the old-school goodness it contains.
The team at Aquiris have been working hard to nail down the classic racing formula that worked so well in the 16-bit era, with games like Top Gear, Outrunners and others in that genre, with a simple yet involving control scheme that'll keep you mastering turns like a pro. On top of that, each race is loaded with objectives, from collecting blue gems to making sure that you don't run out of that precious gas. (Relax, no pit stops here -- just pick up a few gas tank icons during your next lap before you run empty.)
But what's interesting is how much of a value Horizon Chase Turbo has within its digital confines -- even without that precious online multiplayer. Adding that feature to a game like this would've probably taken Aquiris a bit longer to release it. Fortunately, the game has more than enough included to keep you coming back for more.
Lots To Do On the Track
The big draw here is the selection of modes. You'll start off with World Tour, where you'll travel across the globe, starting in San Francisco and continuing through Iceland and South Africa, taking on a number of circuit races against some tough opponents. With some turn mastering and proper use of turbos (you have three each race, so don't waste 'em), you can get a first place victory in no time.
On top of that, there are the bonus gems to pick up, opponents to out-maneuver and a race time to master; so each race has something additional to offer. It's not enough that you barely squeak out a win to move onto the next round -- you'll want to dominate in each race so you can unlock more cars and the Endurance mode, which will keep you busy across various circuit events. It's really something.
The Championship Mode is also worth trying out, set up with packs of races where the more you win, the more you'll unlock. It's a great little mode if you want to finish the game through smaller sessions, though sticking with it for the long haul can pay off with even better cars added to your collection. Between these modes, you'll be plenty busy.prevnext
The Best Kind of Handling -- and Multiplayer!
And there's more. On the competitive side of things, you've got Playground, a new mode added to the Xbox One and Switch versions of Turbo. (It's coming for PS4 and PC as well.) Timed challenges are available here, in which you try to place yourself high on the leaderboard against other drivers. I actually prefer this to online multiplayer, mainly because your opposition is so much more stacked. Seriously, some of these completion times are mind-boggling.
Still, if it's real-time sprints to the finish you want, there is local multiplayer across four player split-screen. On the smaller Switch screen, it can be tough to make out certain details. But put it on a television and you have a Turbo experience that's perfectly fit for a party. You and your friends won't be able to put it down, as you race against each other to see who can win in each corner of the globe.
And as I mentioned, the gameplay in Turbo shines throughout. The game never gets too difficult, though later races require you to be a little more skilled with turn handling and rogue racers. The handling is tight, even around turns, and the use of turbo actually makes you feel the "whoosh" of the wind as you careen towards the finish line. Again, though, keep things in balance -- don't run out of gas!prevnext
A Presentation Akin To the Best 80's Racers
The bonus objectives add icing on the cake as well, so you can fully finish each race and unlock what all it has to offer. We're still in the midst of getting everything, as Horizon Chase Turbo will last you several hours without the multiplayer. Talk about replay value for an arcade racer.
Horizon Chase Turbo also benefits from a highly polished presentation. The visuals shine in every aspect, with background details akin to Outrun and little details that stand out on each track. And there are a ton of them available here, so you'll always find a new place to race. The cars look good too, even if the models are a bit basic. Overall, this definitely resembles a classic Sega racing game, right down to its core drifting mechanics.
And the music is fun to listen to as well, with a soundtrack put together by composer Barry Leitch, who previously worked on the Top Gear tunes. It's a blast to listen to with each new corner of the globe you cover, combined with old-school "screechy" car effects. There's no announcer, but that's okay -- one isn't really needed here and would've drowned things out.prevnext
Don't You Dare Miss This Chase
It's funny how well Horizon Chase Turbo succeeds by doing things so basically. That's not to say it's simply slapped together by any means -- but rather than going for a performance that eclipses the likes of, say, Forza Horizon 4, Aquiris instead opts to go its own way with an arcade racer that channels the 80's to near perfection. Everything comes together here, from the graphics to the music (trippy SNES style, which is fine by me) to the gameplay. And the challenge level is balanced just right as well, so the races never feel like a slog.
Even without online multiplayer, Turbo goes a long way with its local four-player split-screen antics and leaderboard challenges through Playground. Throw that on top of the loaded single player modes and you'll have a game that'll keep you cruis'n for some time. (Yes, that's a play on another popular arcade racing series.)
With Aquiris and other teams working on such spirited fare, I'm happy to see that the arcade racing spirit will truly never die -- it'll live on in gems like Horizon Chase Turbo. Now if we could only get these guys to try their hand at a jet fighting game along the lines of After Burner. (A subtle suggestion there, team. Heh.)
WWG's Score: 4.5 out of 5.
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)prev