Hydrothunder: Hurricane came out last week as part of the XBox Live Summer of Arcade series and you guys – I seriously lost my shit about it. It’s been over ten years since a wee tow-headed Kiala toddled her way into an arcade, shoved a sticky dollar bill into the token machine, and clambered up a stack of phone books to use her booster and let me tell you something friends: there never was and never will be anything so exciting as racing a futuristic speedboat through the Halls of Valhalla while Norse fishing boats curse at you to “GET OFF” and a gigantic wooden Thor attempts to hit you with his axe. Nothing.
As far as I can tell, not much has changed in the new Hydrothunder and while this might bother some (I’m looking at you St Louis Today) I’m perfectly content with Hydrothunder behaving the way Hydrothunder should. I suppose, in light of ever advancing technology, the graphics and stuff could be technology-er. Like, maybe the game could be in 3D and on Mars. In the canals. And then the boats could revolt against their human slave masters and form a new governing race of space canal dwelling speed vessels who feed off human fear and adrenaline. (Actually, I’d totally play that game and it would be called Final Fantasy 97: HYDROTERROR. ) Anyway my point is Hydrothunder was just about perfect to begin with – blowing other nineties era racing games like Crazy Taxi and Alpine Racer (wait for it) out of the water. Sorry.
What has changed about the game is negligible and super fun: new courses like the aforementioned Norse Myth-y Asgard, Tsunami Bowl (which has this sweet Korean race announcer lady who gets very excited any time you hit a Boost bubble or one of those shiny spinning things or make a particularly good ramp jump), and Monster Island (GRIPE ALERT: NOT ENOUGH MONSTERS). There are gauntlet games with exploding barrels to trip you up and ringmaster challenges where you race through uh…rings and of course there are multiplayer modes (for up to eight online players and four single system players) which are enticing even to me, an avid lone wolf gamer. I guess racing games bring out the competitor in me. They also bring out the addict in me as I spent the last five days doing little else besides speeding my way through endless fantasy waterways cursing at walls and buoys and other boats and generally behaving exactly as I did ten years ago -minus the phone books*. I’m still pretty sticky though. What? I like jam.
*Okay I was a full grown adult ten years ago. LET ME HAVE MY LITTLE FANTASIES PLEASE.