Just like your average jerk (you), I very seldom get a chance to hit up my local arcade. And trust me, it’s not from a lack of desire - I love going to the arcade! One such game that continuously brought me to my local Playdium was the game Hydro Thunder. Like most arcade racing games, you sit down, and have a steering wheel, but now you have and a boat throttle on the right instead of pedals on the ground. And on that throttle was a button for boosting, holding down the button would let you boost longer, but use up your saved up boosts.
The sound effects sounded just like the hulls of boats, and the way first person view'floated’ like you were actually on the water, really added to the experience, and it didn’t hurt that the arcade machines were in a heavily air conditioned location, even making my skin feel like I was near the water.
You know what else I love? Blasting through the delicate waterways of Venice in a racing boat while the authorities chase after me, screaming at me in Italian. Then smashing into their boat. Why not?
So, needless to say, Hydro Thunder was ported to the Dreamcast and N64, much to my pleasure. But it kind of goes without saying which version was the superior one.
And I must say, if my memories do not deceive me, it’s identical to its arcade counterpart.
The game begins with 3 easy courses, and 3 easy boats, placing 3rd on all three unlocks 3 normal courses and 3 additional, normal difficulty boats, in which placing 2nd all 3 times unlocks the 3 final and most challenging courses, as well as 3 more, difficult to use boats. 3 more boats are available if you place 1st in all 3 hard courses, but the final 3 boats are nothing more than joke boats, just thrown in for fun. A mini-titanic, a fishing boat with an outboard rocket, etc.
Controls are well interpreted on the DC controller, with your throttle being the analog R button, and boost being you’re "A" button. And the choice of using the thumb stick or direction pad is always a welcomed addition.
Playing the game 2 player is a must, you collect floating boosts throughout the level, and use them strategically to your advantage - and if you can manage to boost directly into a CPU controlled vessel, or better yet, a friend’s vessel, you’ll sent them flying!
Downfalls include the fact that you actually have to remember to return to the title screen and save your game before turning it off in order to keep everything you’ve unlocked, as well as remembering to load every time you start. An Auto-save and load function would’ve made it go a lot smoother.
And the Dreamcast DOES have 4 controller ports, and every self-respecting DC owner has at least that many controllers, or friends who can bring some over, so it would’ve been great to see some 4 player action added.
All in all, if you like racing games or taunting your friends while you careen your rocket-powered catamaran into them, then oh boy, this game is DEFINITELY for you.