Game Title: Horizon Chase Turbo
Company: Aquiris Game Studio
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Availability: Digital Download
Battery Life: 3 – 5 hours
Cloud Save Support: Yes
Download: 1.0 GB

Driving Review Month has continued on after stumbling a little bit with Gear Club Unlimited 2’s review copy up in the air for me. But there’s still plenty of driving to do on the go. We already covered slow and patient driving with Mud Runner, so it’s just right to go to the other end of the spectrum and cover a FAST driving and racing game.

WHen it comes to fast games, there are a few options, but a recent one was an indie game that tried to be like retro SNES racers like Outrun and the Top Gear series. Filled with fast racing, hyper reflexes, and lots of 80s-style music, here is my review of Horizon Chase Turbo for the Nintendo Switch!

Story

Due to this game having no story, this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

horizon 2 - gameplay

Horizon Chase Turbo is a psuedo-3D racing game set in the style of the old SEGA and SNES racers, like Outrun and especially the Top Gear series. In every race, you’ll be navigation 3D-ish race tracks at high speeds, constantly watching for something new to pop up on the horizon for where you go next.

When it comes to Game Modes, you’ve got a good few to trek through. We have the original game’s World Tour Campaign Mode, along with Tournament Mode for circuit races and Endurance Mode for doing as many consecutive races as you can. We also have Playground Mode, which is currently exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One versions of the game that has a variety of regularly-changing challenge races you can go through.

World Tour, as I just said, is the campaign mode of the game. It has over 100 races divided into 12 different regions of the world, from California and Hawaii to China and Japan. This mode is also your main way of unlocking everything. Based on placement in races, you gain Gold Medals and future Regions, Races, and most importantly, vehicles, are tied behind those Medals.

horizon 3 - upgrades

This mode also has Upgrade Races, where you can race to gain upgrades for all of your cars. There’s one Upgrade Race per region, so it’s a big campaign of progressing through each area, unlocking and using the upgrades, unlocking the next cars and regions, and continuing as the races get increasingly more difficult to tackle.

Of course, getting all these points isn’t just a matter of -winning- races. There’s more to it than that. As you drive through each track, you have other cars to pass, special tokens to pick up as you navigate, and fuel pickups to refill your ever-decreasing fuel gauge. In a way, it feels like a faster-paced weapon-less version of Mario Kart

The actual driving, despite the retro look, does have a bit of realism to it. Every car has special speed, maneuverability, fuel, and Nitro stats that are different from one another and they also have a bit of their real-world counterparts here too. The Stratos, for example, is known for being a beast at maneuverability but lacking in the speed department and that can’t be any more true in this game. It takes turns like a dream but is very difficult when you get to straight paths.

horizon 4 - spoopy

The races in this game aren’t terribly hard to navigate around, especially since there is a “Turn Assist” feature to help you around the high-speed corners, but there is a “Bump” system that really brings up the frustration in races and pushes you towards high precision. When you hit another car, it feels like a game of bumper cars. When someone scraps your side, you’re thrown to the side and if you hit someone from behind, you launch them forward to almost the same degree as them using an extra Nitro/Nitrous Boost.

This does really help you learn precision, but it really raises the frustration factor when you constantly bump into cars, or they bump into you. One simple bump from your blind spot can be the difference between 1st place and 6th place. More than once I’ve had one bump turn into a lot more before I can regain control and try to catch up before the race’s end.

All of this does come together pretty well, but let’s talk content. Each race takes around 2 minutes to finish. There are over 100 races and 30+ cars to unlock, so there’s plenty to do. Even if you never have to redo races or go back to get more medals, we’re talking at least 5 hours on World Tour alone, more if you go back to 1st Place every race to unlock all different cars. If you don’t do extremely well in every race, you could probably increase that time to 6 hours, maybe 7.

Granted, 5 hours might not seem that great for the price tag of $20, but there is a good bit to do with Playground having regularly-updating Challenges.

Controls

Controlling the game isn’t too complex. There is only one control scheme, though, so you’ll always be using the buttons when you drive.

You steer with the Left Analog Stick and can also click that stick for honking the horn. ZR is the accelerator and ZL is the brakes. A and B can also be used for accelerating and braking, while Y is used for Nitro Boosts.

So, overall, it’s not too tough.

Presentation

horizon 5 - presy

This game is gorgeous in every aspect of presentation. The visuals are very cartoony and smooth with perfect renders with pretty much no blemishes at all. The cars look great and the environments look stunning when you look in the background as you’re racing.

One thing I will say, though, is something I thought I’d never say. This game is best played in Docked Mode. Handheld Mode looks just as gorgeous, but it is very hard to keep up with the insane speed of the game on the go. Every time I go handheld and do the environment-heavy races it is pretty hard on my eyes. I can keep up, but it’s difficult and a bit straining.

The music is also great here. There’s a huge 80s theme and a lot of the tracks easily got stuck in my head hours after the game went off. They did get the original composer of the Top Gear games, and the game really benefits from it.

Performance, though. Oh boy. Frame-rate is perfect, but stability. This game freezes and crashes and it does it a lot. The further I progressed in World Tour, the worst it got. It started with a couple crashes a day and other days, it’ll crash every 10 or 15 minutes. I’ve had to redo more than a few races because of freezing and crashing.

Battery Life

Given the look of the game, I imagined Battery Life would be more on the top side. Here are my times, from 100% to 0%

Max Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 13 minutes
Max Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 19 minutes

Low Brightness + Wi-Fi – 3 hours, 56 minutes
Low Brightness + No Wi-Fi – 4 hours, 02 minutes

So, pretty good. Not as high as I expected, but still pretty good.

In conclusion, Horizon Chase Turbo is a fast-paced racer that is straight out of the 80s, from visuals and music to the actual Top Gear-inspired gameplay. It does have some crashing problems and doesn’t have an overwhelming amount of content for the price, but if you want a game like Outrun with a more modern look, it’s a fun blast from the past.

Final Score: 7.5/10