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Hydro Thunder

by Midway
Sega Dreamcast
Everyone
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

Price: $49.99
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Product Details

  • ASIN: B000028U2D
  • Item Weight: 5 ounces
  • Media: Video Game
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,483 in Video Games (See Top 100 in Video Games)
  • Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here


Product Description

Amazon.com

As the first boat racing game on the Dreamcast, Hydro Thunder takes full advantage of the advanced processing power of this 128-bit machine. You'll steer one of 13 different boats through 14 fast and furious racing environments. As with the arcade version, you'll race against the clock and numerous other boats in a quest to reach the finish line first. The spectacular graphics and detailed race environments make this a most atypical racing game. In fact, there are times when you might find it difficult to concentrate on the racing because there is so much peripheral eye candy. We were most impressed by the New York Disaster, Far East, and Arctic Circle racing areas.

Many of the best elements of Hydro Thunder are likely to be completely bypassed by casual gamers, since there are numerous hidden tracks, boats, and other elements to be uncovered in this game. However, persistent racers will be well-rewarded, since some of the best tracks can only be unlocked after winning several races. --Brett Atwood

Pros:

  • Detailed race environments
  • Numerous hidden game elements
Cons:
  • Difficulty level will challenge beginning gamers

Review

When you think about racing games, you naturally think of wheels - be it two, four, six, or ten. The most memorable racing games have put you on some sort of road. Why is that? Perhaps air is too bland in its sheer openness, and water simply doesn't deliver insane jumps, tight corners, and clever tracks. Prepare to reevaluate that opinion, because the best boat-racing game to hit arcades has made its way to the Dreamcast - but what it hasn't done is brought anything new with it.

If you've played the arcade version of Hydro Thunder, you already know everything about the game. So little has changed, in fact, that you'll wonder if Eurocom even made an attempt to do anything more than port the game's code to the Dreamcast. There's no intro, no new modes, no CG of any form - just the simple single-race-then-start-over play style that you'd expect from an arcade game. It's almost as if Midway were satisfied with simply changing "insert coin" to "press start" and was done. This game has only two modes - play on your own, or play with a friend. There's no time trial, no tournament, no battle or practice mode, just the pay-per-race-styled "game" mode that you're already familiar with. And once you're actually in the game, there's not a whole lot you can do besides race. There's no difficulty control besides the actual track you pick; the mid-race pause menu has no options control; and the game doesn't even allow you to restart your race. You'll have to quit out to the title screen and choose your track and boat all over again. But what the user interface is lacking, Hydro Thunder more than makes up for in gameplay.

Boat-racing games have had little success because of the vast difference in physics from conventional street racers and the inability to replicate this difference accurately. Hydro Thunder breaks that trend and shows that boat racing is indeed a different dish. The engine was built entirely from the ground up, and it's clear that the team had spent plenty of time making the physics as real as they've ever been in a boat game. Probably the most impressive aspect of the engine is that you can see your boat bounce in the wake created by another racer. These effects, combined with the realistic nature of the game engine easily make Hydro Thunder the best racing game to hit the water.

Speed is a racing game's most essential attribute, and Hydro Thunder has plenty of it. Even with tons of on-screen activity the frame rate is silky smooth, and pop-up simply doesn't exist. In the first-person view a breathtaking sense of speed is achieved, with only slight diminishment in the other views. The graphics are simply amazing. All the different flavors of boat racing are represented in Hydro Thunder - from catamarans to powerboats to nuclear-powered concept racers. And each boat not only has a distinctive hull shape, but it also has distinctive markings and flair. But that's just the beginning. The real eye candy is contained within the tracks. The track design is really innovative, and it takes advantage of the water setting. There are approximately three different types of water present in Hydro Thunder. The deep water comes in two types - calm or choppy, which are easily distinguishable by the excellent graphical effects. The third type of water is the calm shallows, from where you can see the river's bed, which is often littered with buried treasure, sunken ships, hungry sharks, or derelict aircraft. But easily what is most impressive about Hydro Thunder's graphics is how much you can see. All the tracks have hugely detailed backgrounds, and, as stated earlier, pop-up has taken an exit.

Not only does each boat have a distinct graphical look, it also sports its own engine effects. Some engines give the throaty growl of 16-cylinder gas guzzler, while others have more of a high-tech whine. The sound effects are done well, with good use of voice effects in the form of your aviator's private radio and the announcer. The music is all tense race-it-up-type music that makes it easy to use a lead foot.

If the Dreamcast controller excels at any genre, I'd have to say it is racing. The analog buttons on each shoulder are easily the most comfortable and intuitive setup I've used in a while, and it gives you better control than the arcade version did. The boost-jump is incredibly easy to use, and it helps you take full advantage of every track's secrets. The game's thirteen courses are full of huge falls, hidden areas, jumps, tunnels, shortcuts, and more. Want to tunnel through an ice cave? You can. Want to race under the docks of Venice? Do it. Feel like racing through King Tut's tomb? It's all you.

Unfortunately, the game's AI is a bit frustrating. It would seem that the computer-controlled opponents are faster depending on which boat you select. If you choose a faster, more difficult boat to control, you'll be up against faster opponents. This makes it a bit lopsided, as you get none of the pros but all the cons inherent in choosing a more difficult boat. So, in short, the best boats to select are the slowest ones, unless you're less concerned with winning the race than you are with placing the fastest time. Perhaps the most frustrating element of Hydro Thunder is the outright difficulty. You always start in fifteenth place, and the only way you can win a race is by hitting every boost, taking every shortcut, and hitting no walls. As if that weren't enough, Hydro Thunder retains the time gates - an arcade element. This makes finding shortcuts more accidental than intentional, as you've no time to stop and explore the track.

Hydro Thunder was the best boat racing game to ever hit the arcade, and the Dreamcast version carries that tradition to the consoles. However, it suffers from a user-unfriendly interface and brings absolutely no extras home. Without a tournament mode, the game's replay value is hindered incredibly, and the lack of practice modes or time trials make the learning curve very steep. Hydro Thunder is a game I desperately wanted to like, but I was ultimately discouraged by the actual game because of the still-present arcade feel. At its core, Hydro Thunder is still a very exciting, edge-of-your-seat racer that offers awesome graphics and a solid engine, but in the end it almost punishes you for liking it. --Ben Stahl
--Copyright ©1999 GameSpot Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of GameSpot is prohibited. GameSpot and the GameSpot logo are trademarks of GameSpot Inc. -- GameSpot Review


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(41)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great looking, great playing, really frustrating February 4, 2000
By A Customer
Durability: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Educational: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Fun: 3.0 out of 5 stars   
This was one of the first titles I bought for my DC, and I really really wanted to love it. The graphics are absolutely top-notch and the gameplay is addicting; however, it's really, really, REALLY hard. So hard, in fact, that I've really stopped trying; it's frustrating to race an absolutely perfect race and come no higher than 4th. Definitely rent this one first.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! As good as the arcade (almost). November 10, 1999
By A Customer
Durability: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Educational: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Fun: 5.0 out of 5 stars   
I loved the arcade version, and the Dreamcast game is just as good (almost). The only downside is the sound, which is not quite as "in your face." Also, when playing 2 players, the split screen takes away some of your view (but hey, what do you expect from a home version?). This game is lots of fun with great replay value. Graphics and control are phenomenal. If you like to race, this is the best.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Don't take 3 stars as a bad rating, really! May 23, 2000
By A Customer
Durability: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Educational: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Fun: 3.0 out of 5 stars   
First I will discuss the good points about the game: Great graphics, great sound, cool looking boats and tracks,and the controls are easy to learn and use.
Bad things: A lot of slowdown(espeshily in two player mode), only 13 tracks and boats,a lot of times your boat will intersect(or go through solid objects,) no different from the arcade except two player.(no added simulation or anything else to do besides just race,and it's too easy(if you didn't hear me correctly, TOO EASY)the only level I actually found hard was Venice Canals. When I beat that, I beat the game!(I've only been playing the game for 5 days.)
Now that you've read my review, you can probably tell that there were more bad than good things about the game. But when I first got this game and played it, if I wrote a review then I would have given it 4 stars.
I think this game is good for a rent, but I'd pass on buying it, unless you really like the game.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just Like Any Other.... January 30, 2000
By A Customer
Durability: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Educational: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
Hydro Thunder is a good game, it's fun and all. Just Like Any Other racing game, it tends to get repetitive. The game is fun and exciting just about untill you attain all the boards and cars. One other flaw.. The game (when played on the Dreamcast) slows down a bit when played on TWO player mode..Like I said, its JUST LIKE ANY OTHER racing game, they all get boring much quicker then your regular RPG or Action Adventure Game, but hey this game is worth the money..You'll definitly be playing it for a couple of months..
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Great Game Turned into a Rushed Product December 5, 2000
By A Customer
This is a potentially great game that was really anticipated for the release on dreamcast. When I heard of this game, I was filled with joy and expectations that this game would exceed the arcade quality. WRONG! The only difference I found was that there was a useless 2-player mode that only goes head-to-head. There was no 2-player championship mode and not single practice run option. The lack of options and mode generally hampered the quality of this game badly. Here's the drill: you buy it, you race championship mode, and probably one or two runs with your friend and that's that. Another thing I griped about was that the championship mode was EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. There was no options for changing difficulty, thus I got extremely [frustrated] at the virtaul impossibility of beating it and then I stopped playing it before I beat the whole thing. Last thing I griped about was the loading time of this game. It was horrible! Each track took about 40 seconds to load, and I really got angry at it. If it wasn't for the game's great technological graphic, I would've given this game a minus number of stars (probably -2). It's a great rental, but buying it is a grave mistake since there is no lasting appeal to it. Conclusion: it was supposed to be a great game, but Midway turned it into a rushed product that needed a lot more options and a lot more work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hydro Thunder December 13, 1999
By A Customer
Durability: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Educational: 5.0 out of 5 stars    Fun: 5.0 out of 5 stars   
Very cool! Anyone can play yet it is very challenging. Graphics are great and you have lots of boats and courses to choose from. It keeps your interest for a long time. A must buy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best water racing game since Wave Race 64! January 27, 2003
This game gets my vote as the best non-SEGA arcade racing game to ever make a home conversion. What do you have? A PERFECT recreation of an awesome arcade game, complete with Soul Calibur quality graphics, sweet controls, crystal clear sound, and awesome arcade gameplay. Of course the best thing about this game is that you won't have to insert any quarters time and again in order to unlock all the awesome hidden vehicles and tracks. It DOES get hard later on, but isn't that what an arcade game is supposed to do?
Perhaps the only real problem with this game is that the interface needed a little more work. If this game let you restart a track from the pause menu instead of backing all the way out to the main menu, it would have been perfect. As it is, it's an awesome, awesome arcade conversion that arcade racing fans should definitely not miss.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Game November 25, 2000
By Michael
A lot of DC games are at their best in two player mode...not this one. Hydro Thunder is a game you can play by yourself and have the most fun. In two player mode, the boats move too slow...it gets annoying. But if you intend on playing this by yourself, buy it. It'll entertain you for hours.
The game does get a little bit frustrating at times, but then again the point of video games is to provide a challenge. When you get to the point of throwing the controller, it's best to turn this game off. Once you're frustrated, your playing in this game only gets worse. Keep calm and you'll do fine. Here's a hint...if you want to beat the game, you pretty much HAVE to find all the short cuts and secrets.
Good game, check it out if you're going to play it by yourself a lot.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hydro Thunder
Challenging and fun game to play!
Published 3 months ago by cometwatcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Hydro Thunder
What a fun racing game! I played it with a few friends and we had a blast! I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good group or two person game.
Published 21 months ago by Alin Raven
5.0 out of 5 stars Hydro Thunder
I have possesion over one of the best racing games- not ONLY on the Dreamcast- but of all time.

The graphics are not that great to the average gamer, but it brings back... Read more
Published 22 months ago by XxJUMl3OSHRIMPxX
2.0 out of 5 stars If N64 tresspassed onto Dreamcast.
I remember getting Hydro Thunder when it first came out on Sega Dreamcast. Even when I had bought it new (a long time ago), I wasn't too impressed. It was okay.... Read more
Published on July 14, 2012 by Rezivor
4.0 out of 5 stars Multi-platform FUN!!
If you loved this game in the arcade version, then if you own a Sega Dreamcast your more than going to enjoy this take-home version of the game. Read more
Published on May 18, 2008 by R. Hester
5.0 out of 5 stars A Racing Fanatics Must-Have
Simply, this is one of the best acrade style racing games ever made. Don't be put off because it is boats. Read more
Published on March 12, 2006 by Arcade Extreme
5.0 out of 5 stars There are more than 3 tracks
This game has 13 tracks. You start the game with 3 tracks which are easy level, but after you beat those 3, then the others become selectable. Read more
Published on August 30, 2004 by Tim
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful
I cannot believe how terrible this game is. With it's increidibly long load times and impossible difficulty, this game is something that will just collect dust on your shelf. Read more
Published on August 18, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great game!
I don't know much about gaming, but this is a great game. Graphics, sounds, controls. The courses start out easy, and then gradually get harder. Read more
Published on February 10, 2003 by Angela Clayton
3.0 out of 5 stars You can only race three tracks
The first three tracks are fun and there are secret passages in all the tracks to earn more boosters so you can go faster. Read more
Published on April 26, 2002 by melanie
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