Hydro Thunder Review

For Dreamcast

By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne

Rating: Average	
   Whenever I go to an arcade, I have one thing in mind: Find the best game 
in the place and spend about ten bucks trying to beat it.  One day last 
summer, that game was Hydro Thunder.  Now that it has come home to the 
Dreamcast, I think it should have stayed in the arcade where it belongs.
   The main reason I have this opinion is because Hydro Thunder's replay 
value is almost non-existent.  You pick a boat, race on one course, and 
then you find yourself back at the menu screen again.  No circuit races, no 
time trial, nothing except the option to pick a track and race on it. Sure, 
the game offers a two-player mode that is entertaining for a while, but 
even this can't save Hydro Thunder from having about as much longevity as 
The Mike O'Malley Show. 
   Hydro Thunder's control looks very tight while watching, but feels 
incredibly loose when playing.  I seem to always under-steer or over-steer 
depending on how fast I'm going, and jumping off ramps is always something 
that should avoided if at all possible.  When jumping off ramps, the boat 
seems to be at the mercy of all outside forces, including wind and gravity.  
More often than not, my boat started wobbling around in the air and ended 
up doing a nose-dive.  If you can't picture what I mean by this, go get a 
toy boat and throw it across your back-yard and you'll see what happens all 
too often when you jump off ramps in Hydro Thunder.  
   There are many sharp turns immediately following jumps in this game, 
which is similar to the way the tracks were designed in Jet Moto.  However, 
in Jet Moto you could turn your vehicle in any direction while in the air, 
and when you hit the water you would speed off in that direction.  In Hydro 
Thunder, if you turn your boat ever so slightly in mid-air, odds are that 
when you land you're either going to crash or lose all your momentum.
   Another weird thing about the control is the ability to push a button 
and propel your boat straight up for about two seconds.  This is useful for 
collecting power-ups, but come on!  When's the last time you saw a boat 
shoot straight up in the air while going 60 miles per hour?  Obviously the 
development team was going for a certain degree of realism in Hydro Thunder, 
but it was all shattered by this one silly maneuver.
   Hydro Thunder has some great special effects, particularly when it comes 
to the water.  In some stages the water is so clear that you can see what's 
in the water below you.  Also, there are tons of things going on in each 
track like waterfalls, which look great and sometimes hide secret passages.  
Surprisingly, Hydro Thunder also has an announcer with a pretty cool voice, 
and while he can still be annoying sometimes, it's nowhere near the level 
of aggravation caused by Wave Race 64's announcer.  
   Impressive graphics and sound aside, this game's quirky control and 
complete lack of replay value prevent it from ever being too enjoyable.  
Simply put, Hydro Thunder is a decent racing game and a decent weekend 
rental.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

Send your thoughts on this review to jimmy@mastergamer.com

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