If there’s one thing that Horizon Chase Turbo has relayed to me, it’s how much I’ve missed that classic arcade racing formula. When I look back at my childhood, specifically at the racing games I would play, Mario Kart and Out Run stand firmly in mind. The former’s concept is a concept that’s been tried and tested time and time again over the years, more recently with the likes of All-Star Fruit Racing. The latter’s concept, on the other hand, doesn’t quite enjoy the same level of attention, which, when all is said and done, is a shame.
Horizon Chase Turbo is a wonderful throwback to the time that clearly inspires it. I usually leave my judgement of a game’s visual and audio design until later, but here, it’s something that simply needs to be spoken about first. Horizon Chase Turbo is a gorgeously vibrant game that, although far from cutting-edge, achieves much of what it sets out to accomplish. There’s an almost cartoon-like feel to the game, which sits magnificently well with the game’s oftentimes lightning fast-pace. It helps, of course, that there’s a lot of diversity here.
Horizon Chase Turbo doesn’t skimp on its track selection. Each and every track a marvel to behold in their own right. What particularly took me aback was how well the game pulls that classic design to the modern era, making for a game that not only fits well by today’s standards, but looks unlike anything else available on the console. The environments, the vehicles and the racing effects present a blend of sharp, stylish detail, together with a polygon finish that collectively injects character and personality throughout its entirety.
I’ll extend the same level of appreciation to the game’s audio design, with a solid soundtrack that’s tied to cues that truly gives off that arcade core. Safe to say that the foundation here is immediately captivating and almost completely impressive. Unfortunately, there’s a number of issues that holds the game back from greatness. First and foremost, the AI seems to be unbalanced. Competitors will either be far too easy or far too hard, yet always appear to be right up your exhaust if you make a moderate mistake. This leads me to its difficulty.
Horizon Chase Turbo houses a fairly passable difficulty curve to begin with, which is fine because it gives you time to adjust to the fields of play. However, before long, there’s a sharp spike that feeds into the above issue, making for a very hit and miss selection of races. Then, there’s the omission of online support. Let me tell you, if there’s one game this year that seemed as though it was built for online play, yet came without, it’s this. I would hope that if the developer sees enough engagement, they’ll consider adding it down the road.
It would be unfair for me to judge the game based on what it hasn’t got, so on this front, I’ll leave this up for discussion. Outside of that, there’s very little to complain about. Horizon Chase Turbo is an otherwise great racer that I truly hope picks up some attention. It certainly deserves it. I’ll credit the game for its accessibility too, being that it’s easy to pick up and play from the get-go and comes with a fluid learning curve due to how simplistic it is by design. There’s some varying differences depending on what mode you choose to dive in.
Starting up the game will present you with a clean menu that consists of a number of choices; World Tour, Tournament, Playground and more. World Tour sees you taking on a number of races that span several globally-themed locations. Here, you’ll work for points that are handed out for a number of different factors; position, collected medals and so forth. The better your rank and acquisition, the more points you’re awarded. The more points that you obtain, the more vehicles and locations that you’ll unlock as a result.
Each of these locations also offer up a special race that will allow you to unlock an upgrade for all of your motors, which adds a nice touch. Plus, you’re free to choose which upgrade you want to apply. Tournaments are self explanatory. Once you unlock this mode, you can take on a number of tournaments that are broken down into groups of races. Here, the better your finishing position, the more score you will obtain and the higher up the scoreboard you’ll sit. Should you be skillful enough, a gold cup will be dished out for top rank.
Playground, however, spices things up a bit by presenting you with some challenges that alter how each of its races play out; oftentimes putting you in specific vehicles on tracks that have unique twists. There’s no knocking the game for its content value, especially when we factor in that the game comes with a generous price point. Throw in split-screen support for up to four players, on top of online multiplayer ghost racing, and for those of you that are seeking the next decent Out Run-like game with a modern twist, it’s a no brainer.
The handling is top notch, too. Each race begins with up to twenty cars at the starting line; ranging trucks, minis, sports cars and more. Vehicles all come with their own unique attributes, and I oftentimes found that certain vehicles were better at certain tracks than others. You’ll work through the laps in a fight for first place, picking up medals and fuel (to refuel your car and prevent a standstill) at every turn. Simple by design, yes, but its swift pacing and its energetic mood go hand in glove to relay one hell of a worthwhile racer.
There’s the odd gripe when it comes to collisions, especially during boost. You’ll begin each race with a set number of boosts that you can tap into via the nitros. This will rocket your vehicle to high speed for a brief moment, however, if you collide with another car, even by just tapping it, you’ll considerably slow down. Seeing how most of the AI seems hell-bent on getting in your way on purpose, this presents some infuriating moments, more so when you’re chasing fabled super trophies. That said, it’s nothing that a bit of skill wont alleviate.
Horizon Chase Turbo doesn’t come without faults, but even so, it’s easily one of the most entertaining retro arcade racers in recent memory. I take issue with the game’s unbalanced AI and its unsteady difficulty curve, collectively presenting infrequent moments of frustration. This, however, is easy to overlook in the face of its deep serving of content, its diverse track and vehicle selection, and its addictive, energetic gameplay.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.