XBLA Review: Hydro Thunder Hurricane

Is this a storm in a teacup?

This all-new sequel to the legendary arcade hit features amazing dynamic water physics, transformable rocket-powered boats, gorgeous visuals and over-the-top interactive environments. Single player games include Race and Championship, and two brand new modes: Ring Master and the explosive Gauntlet. Combine local 4-player split-screen and online multiplayer games with 8 players over Xbox LIVE.

I can’t say I played the original Hydro Thunder, but the XBLA sequel is actually an enjoyable, albeit very typical arcade racer. It has a number of tracks, different ways to play on them such as going through rings and avoiding explosives scattered across them. The price tag of 1200 Microsoft Points may be just a bit too steep for what’s on offer here, but it does have quite a bit of replay value such as going for Gold medals in all events.

The tracks themselves are well designed and memorable for its fast-paced moments. The back button is used to reset your boat if you get blown up or end up in the wrong direction, while the A button uses your boost if you collect the boost packs around the courses. There are also hidden packages scattered around for those wanting to find extra life from the game. Multiplayer is also quite fun online, although I hate that they put in an achievement that requires you to have 3 other people in a match via split-screen and beat the AI with all of them.

Visually, Hydro Thunder Hurricane is fairly impressive to look at for an XBLA title. But it does have that arcade look to it which gives it a mixed look overall. Load times are short and the framerate is solid, while sound effects are hit and miss.

The Verdict

Hydro Thunder Hurricane is a decent enough racer, but it doesn’t add anything new to the genre. That being said, it’s got that typical arcade feel that is lacking from racers today and seems to work quite well on the whole, but the price tag will probably put most off from trying it.