I’m a big fan of arcade racers. I remember sticking far too many coins in Outrun and played Gremlin Graphics’ excellent Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge games to death before moving on to Top Gear on the SNES. Recently, though there’s be a dearth of these simple arcade racing games, but Horizon Chase Turbo is here to set things right.
It’s clear from the first screen that this is a tribute to those classic arcade games. Horizon starts with a splash screen that could easily have been from a sequel to Top Gear and a world map centred on California, where your first races will take place. Everything bar the world tour is locked from the start and as you unlock each region (by placing 5th or higher) you’ll gain Endurance, Playground and Tournament modes as well as being able to play each race in up to 4 player splitscreen, something that instantly wins praise from me.
As you race each track you’ll pick up blue coins to earn upgrades and new cars and you’ll need them. Races get difficult fairly quickly and the only way to win is to grab better cars and more upgrades. It never feels unfair but don’t expect a smooth ride here. It also helps the re-playability, beyond multiplayer, as you’ll be able to go back and try to earn more coins or place higher in the rankings.
The art style in Horizon Chase Turbo is an interesting mix of bright colours, polygon backgrounds and nicely detailed cars. The lower polygon count of the background means that the developers have managed to add some amazing weather effects such as lightning forking from the sky or haze on the lights of the cars during heavy rain. It works really well in making it feel both modern and a homage to the classic 16-bit games it borrows from.
With a new Playground mode designed for the Switch release of the game, there’s also an online leaderboard present. This adds yet another reason to keep coming back, beyond the basic thrill of the race. This mode throws random events and weather conditions at you, leaving you guessing what you’ll be up against until the last minute. It’s a great addition in my opinion.
Horizon Chase Turbo fills the gap of pure arcade racer nicely on Switch and had me grinning every time I played. It’s in no way the most advanced racing game you’ll play on the system, or the most detailed, but that’s part of its beauty, it’s a game for fans of those pure arcade racers from the past, but brought right up-to-date.