Hotshot Racing is a bit like a huge box of dream racing game elements thrown into one game for me.
Two of my favourite racing games are Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast and the original Ridge Racer and Developers Lucky Mountain Games/Sumo Digital have certainly included more than a few features from these game, alongside the vector stylings of Virtua Racing and early Playstation Games (including Ridge Racer) plus a few other classic ingredients just thrown in to an already appetising arcade racer broth.
There is really no point wasting time here, if you’re a fan of those 80s and 90s racing games that sat in arcades up and down the country or graced the late 16 bit and early 32 bit consoles, you’ll love Hotshot Racing. It’s quite obviously a love letter to those games while peppering them with a hint of a British sense of humour and it’s the most fun I’ve had with a steering wheel in ages.
The main mode is Grand Prix, which will be very familiar to many arcade racing game fans and even Mario Kart players. It hosts 4 sets of races with 4 tracks each, all with Normal, Hard and Expert difficulties to choose from. 8 drivers from around the world compete for the title with their quips and 4 distinctive cars that match their country or style. These 4 cars are the usual mix of a balanced car, one with a bigger top speed, one with better drift and one with a top acceleration. They all handle similarly but you’ll soon find out which one benefits you after trying them on the track. For me, the balanced car is always the best to try first.
Driving feels very loose but in a good way. There’s an emphasis on drifting and gaining speed through tailgating cars, both of which also add to your boost bar in a similar way to both Outrun Coast 2 Coast and Burnout. Drifting takes a little bit of trial and error before you get into the zone but once you do you’ll be taking those corners like an expert shopper driving a trolley around the aisles in Tesco but without the fear of being covered in a mountain of toilet rolls if you take the corner too steep.
Tracks differ by their theme, from funfairs to a dinosaur park but they do lack something in their design. There are plenty of corners and tight spaces to get snagged on which then lead to big open areas where you can easily overtake. They’re fun but do feel like they lack something.
The fast and frantic action is kept up with the addition of a little rubber banding, which will be either a good or bad thing depending on your point of view but I personally think it works here because it avoids good players just sailing off into the distance. Nobody wants a Lewis Hamilton situation here. That said, the game isn’t ever unfair, even on harder difficulties and it’s always skill that wins out in the end.
Beyond this Grand Prix mode, there are other modes on offer to keep both single player and multiple players entertained. The most exciting of these is a Cops and Robbers game that plays out like Chase HQ but where multiple police cars aim to take down the robbers. The game places you as either a cop or a robber, the former gives you loads of quick boost refills and tasks you with taking down more cars before your rival cops do and the latter pits you as the robber, escaping the cops and trying to grab money along the way before you reach the finish line. Get caught as a robber and you’re turned into a cop for the rest of the game.
A standard Arcade race sits alongside a Drive or Explode mode which is basically the film Speed crossed with an elimination mode, with exploding cars if they fail to hit the next checkpoint or go too slow. Both are welcome additions that expand the gameplay beyond the main mode and can be played by multiple players split screen. Online and local play give you even more reason to come back to the game beyond its initial race mode and single player events.
If you have a hankering for a bit of classic arcade racing and miss the old days of light and breezy racers that were there simply to entertain you without being ultra-realistic, looking all dark and brooding or trying to tell a complicated story then you really owe it to yourself to download Hotshot Racing.