Thunder Review (Dreamcast)
Possibly the most popular boat racing game ever, Hydro Thunder
makes its premiere on the console platform as one the Sega Dreamcast's 19
launch titles. There's no
plot, but who needs one? It's a fun boat racing game.
You race boats. That's the closest thing to a plot you get or need.
I played Hydro Thunder about a hundred times in the arcade, so I
definitely know that the Dreamcast version is not arcade perfect.
While the tracks and boats are all the same, excepting the two
extra tracks on the Dreamcast version and Greek Isles now being a Medium
track, the graphics and sound actually suffered.
The very first thing I noticed about the Dreamcast version was also
something added: Load-Time. Out
of all the Dreamcast launch titles I played, Hydro Thunder had the worst.
It takes a long time to load between the track selection and boat
selection menus. Obviously
Midway decided not to utilize the Dreamcast's 24 megabytes of RAM.
The second thing I noticed was, however cool the announcer was in
the arcade version, he was just annoying in the home version.
First, they used a bad encoder for their sound, so you hear
computer static on all the sound effects, but it's never more noticeable
that on the
voice. Second, when you play
it in the arcade, the cheesy sounding announcer adds to the entire
experience of playing the game. You've
got the chair that shakes with speakers right where your head rests, the
sounds of people and other video game machines resounding in the
background, a steering wheel, throttle, and a very large screen you can
move the seat right up
At home, I'm sitting on my bed, looking down at my 13" screen
with a Dreamcast controller in my hand, waiting for the menu to load, and
thinking how lame it is to be home on a Friday night.
The announcer just adds to the whole frustration of the situation,
because you know that's what's causing the slow loading time.
Without other sounds in the background, he just sounds cheesy.
And, of course, I missed all that stuff I mentioned last paragraph.
The third thing I noticed was while playing.
Surfaces weren't loading in the distance. Sure, all the polygons
were there, but the arrows on the jumps, for example, weren't loading
until up-close. It was most
noticeable on Arctic Circle when I entered the tanker behind all those
penguins. I couldn't see the
large jump in the middle until I had already missed it, and I even knew it
was there. Most of the time
it doesn't matter, as there's enough lighting to make everything out, but
sometimes it'll cost your first.
Which brings me to another thing I didn't like.
You have to unlock medium and hard tracks and boats.
This is really bad for anyone who doesn't yet have a VMU due to
lack of supply or money. I,
myself, do not have a VMU, and I don't like the easy boats or tracks.
I hate having to play with those just to advance to the medium
tracks and boats. At that
point, I have to come in second or first place on the one track I have
never done well on: Lake Powell. Needless to say, I have yet to play with
the hard tracks or boats.
The game play is pretty much the same as the arcade version.
Sure, I don't have the cool steering wheel or the throttle with the
boost button (the latter of which I don't really miss because I always had
trouble doing a hydro jump with that thing), but it plays through pretty
much the same. If you haven't
played the arcade game, it's something you absolutely must do.
With all of its faults, it's still my favorite Dreamcast launch
title. While the graphics and
sound unjustly suffered the transition from arcade to console, and it lost
much of its altogether experience, so long as you have a VMU, it's still
much fun. Too bad the
Dreamcast controller sucks.
out of 10