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Platinum #114 - Horizon Chase Turbo (PS4)
A love letter to retro racing fans around the world. Does Top Gear, the Lotus Challenge games, Out Run, or Jaguar XJ220 strike a chord with you? Then this game is for you. Otherwise, you might want to steer clear. Horizon Chase Turbo is a 16-bit inspired retro racing game developed by Brazilian indie game developer, Aquiris Game Studio, that seeks to recreate the exhilarating speed from way back in the day, and in some ways, it does manage to succeed. While I would have personally preferred a sprite-based style, the developer opted for the use of simple geometry and simple colors to somehow create a very striking design. On first look, I was turn off by it, no kidding, but the further I raced, the more it grew on me and managed to cement its own style. This was thanks to a smart track design that harkens back to the simplicity you would expect from the era and a very accurate scenery representation of the many places you visit. Expect to see the majestic Andean Mountains in Santiago, Chile (complete with Gran Torre Santiago in the city's skyline even); race through Chapada Diamantina many tepuys in Brazil; presence a thunderstorm in Acropolis, Greece; amaze at the Burj Khalifa's incredible presence while the sun sets in Dubai, UAE; marvel at the Aurora Borealis in Reykjavík, Iceland; or maybe just see how the sun rises and the sakura trees blossom in Japan. In short, while simple in its representation, it's all nice to look at.
The game controls like a dream and the gameplay is rock-solid with a steady frame rate. Passing other racers at supersonic speeds while drifting feels great. One thing that the classic retro racers did great was having a nice soundtrack to race to. Imagine my awe when I learned that Barry Leitch, the guy responsible for Top Gear and the Lotus Challenge series of games kick-ass music, comes back 20+ years later to recompose Horizon Chase Turbo's equally amazing soundtrack. As you would expect, many of the pieces are reworked and amplified versions of classic soundtracks that punctuate perfectly the racing happening on screen. They're just great. Unfortunately, from here on is where my praising ends as, with everything, there were a couple of bad things in the game. The first thing would be stability. The game crashed a lot on me. One of them crashes even corrupting my save. Thankfully, I had a backup on the cloud but this sort of stuff shouldn't happen so frequently. The second thing would be its difficulty. Old retro racers weren't known for their difficulty exactly, but Horizon Chase Turbo is a total cakewalk. I was able to get the Super Trophy on many races on my very first attempt. Granted, if you're a seasoned racer, this game will prove a very little challenge. Finally, there was a little bit of a grind towards the Platinum at the end. Doing the World Tour was great, the Tournaments were okay, but the Endurance races were a bit too much for such a simple game and can get tiresome due to the game's general easy difficulty.
All trophies are pretty easy and require you to complete the World Tour, Tournament and Endurance modes, while attaining 100% completion in the World Tour. Most other trophies while come naturally as you progress throughout the game. Only Supersonic can be a bit hard as you require the right car on the right track to pull off, but other than that, mostly an easy, enjoyable list. As for car selection, I'd recommend cars that favor handling, top speed and nitro over everything else. Handling, in particular, is fundamental as it helps you nail those turns sometimes without even de-accelerating at all. My favorite car was Dustdriver, the Lancia Stratos-lookalike. Speaking of cars, you know that the game is very reminiscent of Top Gear, right? Well, depending on which car you're driving, you'll see the driver spout all sorts of different text bubbles. I found all of them pretty amusing and with cars like Madbot (a yellow Camaro ), Walker-X (a tuned Mitsubishi Eclipse ), and Déjà Vu (this is totally a white Toyota Corolla AE86 lol ), you can see the developers had a very nice sense of humor. Many references to see. Granted, I really enjoyed my time playing Horizon Chase Turbo. I can say it was one PS+ offering I'm very happy with because it really tries its very best to provide that retro racing goodness of years before. While there were a number of shortcomings, I still think is a game very much worth playing, especially if you're itching for some retro racing goodness. Just be sure to have a backup at hand in case things go sour.