Horizon Chase Turbo is an arcade racer that pays a lot of homage to classics in the genre like Outrun, Top Gear, and Daytona USA etc. Despite this, Horizon Chase feels like its own game and never relies too much on old influences. For those not in the know, arcade racers were extremely popular in the 80s and 90s, but the genre largely tapered off around the turn of the century; the Burnout series was one of the last to carry the mantle.
Horizon Chase Turbo, like many arcade racers, leans towards very simple and straightforward gameplay. You don't need to know car parts and have a very mechanical mind to pick it up and have fun. The races are shorter and arcade elements like pickups and points are present in the game. This racer boasts so-called 16-bit graphics that are nothing short of stunning alongside a few different game modes. Suffice it to say, developers, Aquiris Game Studios looked to revive a long-lagging genre of games and brought this title to all modern platforms for the fraction of the price of a typical AAA game.
Horizon Chase Turbo can currently be purchased on the Nintendo Switch eShop here for regional pricing. Don't have a Switch? No problem. This game is also available on Steam, PS4, and Xbox One.
This is where the bulk of the gameplay lies. This is the campaign where you will have to finish races and hit a certain amount of points to unlock the global racing hub. It's a surprisingly immersive mode for a $20ish dollar arcade racer. You begin in California where you have about eight different races at your disposal.
If you want to move on to the next location, you must gather a certain amount of points. Points are collected by placing in races (top three), collecting blue coins that are located on the map, and finishing with fuel in your tank.
Each area also has a bonus race where placing offers you an upgrade to all your cars, boosting the stats such as speed, acceleration, handling, and turbo. Races typically only take about two to three minutes, so it's fun to replay them to get a higher place and more points. You also get super trophies for getting 1st place and finding all the collectibles in a race. Cars get unlocked after achieving a certain amount of points, and there are more than thirty cars in the game.
This is a mode with four different races, similar to a Mario Kart circuit. You cannot choose each race, instead, you choose an area and have a preset set of races to race through.
This mode is quite unique. The races are updated and only out for a limited time. They feature challenges such as inverted tracks, weather conditions, no upgrades etc. It requires an internet connection. This is for more hardcore fans who want a special challenge.
You must beat the World Tour Mode to unlock this. For the sake of spoilers and those who like surprises, I will withhold what the mode actually entails.
At its core, Horizon Chase Turbo is an arcade racer that could have just as well fit in the 80s or 90s. The controls could not be much simpler. You can accelerate, break, and use turbo. I never really use the break, almost always choosing to ease off the acceleration around tight corners.
Luckily the controls are perfect in this game. Your car moves EXTREMELY fast compared to most racers. Considering how fast you move, it's amazing that it's both pleasant and easy to go around corners. You can usually take corners at almost full speed, though I do recommend slowing down a bit: if you don't, you will definitely spin off the track. Spinning off the track isn't all that punishing since your car takes no damage, and the game kindly places you back on the track. It will hurt your chances of coming in 1st place though.
The only issue with the controls that I found was at the beginning of races. There are twenty cars per race, so you are usually stuck amongst the crowd for the first thirty or so seconds in the race. It can be hard to get around cars, and bumping them from behind gives them a boost and slows you down. While this mechanic works and adds an extra challenge, it can be frustrating when you are going really fast and two of the three available lanes are cluttered with other cars.
Pickups and Track Elements
Every race has a certain amount of blue gems to collect. These add to your score, and you need to collect all of them to get a perfect score and get the super trophy for the track.
There are also fuel pickups in this game. Each lap usually has one or two points where you can pick up fuel canisters. Your fuel runs out as you race, and there is a fuel gauge on the right side of the screen that tells you how much fuel you have left. I enjoyed this added depth, and yes, you can run out of fuel, which automatically puts you in last place. Finding the fuel pickups isn't usually hard, but sometimes they are only in one lane, so missing them can certainly be costly.
There are occasional turbo boosts in the track (though not every track). You will always start with a few turbo boosts to use, so collecting extras isn't necessary, but adding more turbo always helps you jump ahead of your opponents.
Overall, these elements help this game stand out from the crowd as a basic arcade racer. The nuances add a lot to the race and add extra challenge outside of just getting ahead of the competition.
To be honest, racing games were never my favorite genre. I know about as much about cars as scientists know about extra-terrestrial life. Outside of Mario Kart, I find most racers to be a bit more frustrating than I wish they were. I enjoyed a lot of the old racers that didn't require me to focus on the technical aspects of vehicles, so this game suited me well.
I say all this to preface that the difficulty may depend on your experience with racing games. I found the difficulty well balanced. It's hard to get in 1st place, though I could frequently acquire 3rd place. It wasn't until I knew the track well and had car upgrades that I could usually steal that 1st place spot. That said, the game is generally forgiving and you can restart the race at any time.
As stated earlier, each area has an extra race where you can choose a certain aspect of your cars to upgrade--yes all your cars receive the upgrade--and better compete to complete races and locations. Despite all cars getting an upgrade, you probably won't want to use the original cars in the game since their stats are still worse overall. Upgrading and getting better cars makes backtracking and getting super trophies easier. You can still certainly get 1st place without the upgrades, but for players like me, the upgrades made it more fun to keep playing then casually backtrack when I felt like it or needed a few more points to unlock a new area.
There is local multiplayer, which can support up to four players at once. Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer, only leaderboards. Let's hope for a future update with online multiplayer.
Visuals and Sound
The visuals in this game are breathtaking. Everything has a cel-shaded look to it, and while the aesthetics do lean more towards a cartoon, they are very immersive. You get a real sense of your location. Racing around a big city is nothing like racing in the wild forests of a national park.
Each environment is full of detail, and despite the high-speed racing, all the visuals still really pop out. The cars especially look beautiful, and the animations are top notch. You see your car flip, the turbo kicking into action, and I especially liked the old school text blocks that popped up during certain points of the race; for instance, your driver might say something like "this is where I belong" when you enter 1st place or, "I could really use a cup of coffee" in a snowy area.
Speaking of snow, the weather and time of day shifts add a beautiful diversity to the tracks. There is rain, snow, fog, sunshine, moonlight, and the graphics never lack a masterful polish rarely seen with this sort of game. The graphics constantly sizzle, and anyone who plays this will surely fall in love with them if they remind open-minded.
The soundtrack is less underwhelming than the visuals. The tunes are mostly electronic, somewhat 80s inspired tracks. I liked most of what I listened to, and it certainly fit the vibe of the game; however, it doesn't take long to hear all the tracks in the game, and given how long the World Tour mode is, they can become redundant. Considering how great the rest of the game is, it's unfortunate the soundtrack falls short of greatness. Nonetheless, it's still solid and there are tunes that are very catchy and welcoming.
Horizon Chase Turbo is a great arcade racing game that is worth every penny. If you like the genre, I would say pick it up or keep it on your wishlist. It's easy to pick up and play and offers a surprising amount of depth. The World Tour mode will keep you busy for hours and hours, and local multiplayer makes it another great game to own on the Switch. The races can become monotonous after a while, and I would have liked to see them contain more obstacles, but I usually find myself playing this game for longer than originally intended despite the redundancies.
The polish is astounding, and outside of a repetitive soundtrack, everything looks and feels amazing. The controls are spot on, and the gameplay is fast paced and intense. I do wish there was an online mode, but for the price, you get a lot of content and a really fun racer. I cannot recommend this game enough if you enjoy arcade racers.
|+ Tight Controls||-- Soundtrack is underwhelming|
|+ Beautiful Graphics||-- No Online Multiplayer|
|+ Tons of Gameplay||-- Gameplay can feel redundant|
|+ Locations from around the world|