Horizon Chase Turbo (Switch eShop) Review
Fast, fun and colourful, Horizon Chase Turbo’s Outrun-race stylings makes for a good racing experience suited to quick play sessions, despite some bugs along the way.
Inspired by the 1986 Sega racer Out Run, which has since spawned a subgenre of racing games and synthwave music, Horizon Chase Turbo captures the euphoric vibes the genre is known for. Gorgeous vistas, catchy riffs and fun racing all combine to make this modern-day iteration a worthy successor to the original neon racer.
Horizon Chase Turbo is one hell of a slick package. From the menus and UI, right through to the racetracks; there’s style in abundance at every high-speed corner. Using a vivid pastel colour palette mixed with defined polygonal edges, Horizon Chase Turbo’s look is a visual feast – especially the stunning background art featured on many of the circuits.
Most importantly, Horizon Chase Turbo’s racing feels good. Really good. Each car feels unique to handle and gives enough satisfying feedback on the track while racing. Even the HD rumble is used to good effect here; if your wheels run along the track’s edge, you’ll feel a constant low rumble which increases in intensity the further off-road you go. This is also reflected in collisions, with a strong rumble combining with a sharp speed reduction to generate a strong sense of velocity and impact. Trust me, you’ll go off-road and crash regularly while learning the many tracks included in Horizon Chase Turbo, each featuring their fair share of sharp turns and bends along the way.
Much more than just pressing down the accelerator and steering, Horizon Chase Turbo gives you various ways to approach races, with several different pickup types for you to collect. Critical to finishing races, your car is stocked with a limited amount of fuel, requiring you to drive over the scarcely-placed fuel pickups littered on each track. Missing the fuel on one lap of the longer tracks usually results in a tense dash of adrenaline while screeching towards the next available fuel spot, eyeing off the rapidly depleting fuel gauge hoping your race doesn’t end prematurely. On top of fuel, every race while playing the main World Tour mode is sprinkled with blue coins that function as collectibles contributing towards your progression score. Sure, you can finish in first place, but you’ll get the most points for unlocking more cars and events by winning and collecting all the coins simultaneously. Additionally, you’re given a few brief boosts of nitro to use at any time during the race. Some circuits house further nitro pickups to give you an extra edge over the challenging AI opponents.
However, the coins and extra nitro pickups are usually placed on opposite sides of the road to the all-important fuel pickups. This means completionists are faced with the difficulty of trying to collect each coin while still packing enough fuel, in addition to trying to get the top spot on the podium. Normally, I’m content to finish most levels and races in games without obsessively collecting everything, but there’s something about Horizon Chase Turbo that kept me replaying races for the perfect score.
Housing plenty of varied races to burn rubber on, Horizon Chase Turbo boasts several different game modes – the main and best mode you’ll be spending plenty of time in is World Tour. World Tour sees you participating in events set in different countries (including Australia!), accumulating points towards unlocking more countries and cars to race in. It’s super easy to jump in, race in a few events, and jump back out with plenty more to do when you next get that racing itch. In addition to World Tour, Horizon Chase Turbo features the standard four-race Tournament mode with varying difficulty modes in the vein of Mario Kart. After playing for a short while, you unlock Playground, which is a live series of limited-time events using pre-existing tracks remixed with new conditions such as fewer laps, increased AI difficulty and so on. Apparently, the Playground events rotate every so often, but I couldn’t see a timer or timetable indicating when events start and conclude. In theory, the concept of Playground is good, but there’s little incentive to dive in beyond challenging yourself, as I couldn’t see previous leaderboards or winners of past Playground events, which makes the mode feel a bit arbitrary and disposable.
Speaking of leaderboards, Horizon Chase Turbo is designed in such a way that smoothly integrates online leaderboards into World Tour, making it easy to see what are the top times to beat. Enabling ghost data of your previous races or online leaders is painlessly simple, requiring just a press of a button prior to commencing a race. Unfortunately, leaderboards only show the top 50 racers, meaning if your times place outside the top 50, you’ll only be shown as the 51st racer – regardless of how far off your time may be. It would be nice to see what exact position you placed to get a full sense of where you fit in among all players, but it’s not an essential feature.
Most importantly, Horizon Chase Turbo is a great local multiplayer game. Getting started with other players is a nicely streamlined process, and World Tour is fully playable in multiplayer. This latter point is fantastic, especially considering everyone’s results contribute towards the satisfying progression system, taking the best of everyone’s results and combining them for the final score. For example, you could finish in first place without collecting every coin, but another player who finished further back may have collected all of them, meaning your score on that event will take the first-place finish and the other player’s coin count to award full points. Giving this feeling of constantly working towards completion and being rewarded for your efforts seamlessly across single-player and multiplayer makes Horizon Chase Turbo so easy to keep coming back for more.
However, I have encountered a known issue with Horizon Chase Turbo where the game will crash occasionally, forcing you to reboot from the Switch menu. Thankfully, launching and playing the game is such a speedy process that the crashes I encountered were a minor inconvenience. Horizon Chase Turbo saves after every race, so you’ll rarely lose any progress. One interim solution suggested that reportedly stops the game from crashing is to play in handheld with airplane mode turned on – which indicates the issue has something to do with fetching data from the online servers. There’s a patch currently in the works which will hopefully smooth things over, but I haven’t been too fazed by the game’s current performance. My brother and I played a fair bit of multiplayer together, and whenever we encountered a crash, we’d look at each other, look back at the TV, and wordlessly reboot the game to keep on going.
Horizon Chase Turbo’s modern take on the arcade Outrun racer is a fast and fun colour-drenched experience barely diminished by a few crashes along the way.
+ Cars feel unique and fun to handle
+ Heaps of gorgeously designed tracks to race on
+ Great split-screen multiplayer contributes towards World Tour progress
- Occasional game crashes
- Playground mode feels a bit inconsequential