Hotshot Racing (Switch) Review
Real arcade racing games are few and far between these days. Now the small team at Lucky Mountain Game and some of the racing smarties from Sumo Digital have finally got Hotshot Racing over the line. Hotshot Racing began it’s life a long time ago as Racing Apex, now that game (with the weapons removed) has evolved into this. Hotshot Racing is a modern take (but still retro-looking) on the 90s arcade racing games of the past. Games like Daytona USA, Virtual Racing, or Outrun.
Hotshot Racing ticks all the arcade racing boxes, but it also ticks all the 90s arcade racing boxes. You’ve got a full single-player mode with cups, there are time trials, online and local play. With one player the game runs at perfect 60 FPS; not only that, the game is crisp and the bright textureless colours look great on the TV and in handheld.
The single-player is a Grand Prix with several cups, each with three levels of difficulty. However, the game’s CPU is fairly aggressive no matter what difficulty you chose. There’s no way you’re getting out to a lead and just sitting there as the game uses some good old fashioned rubber banding. Even if your opponents do take you out, you’ve always got a chance to get back into the mix with a boost system to help you along.
Each of the game’s characters has a story, the characters will give snippets of their personality as they race, and when you finish a cup, you’ll see how the win affected them. The stories are interesting if not a bit stereotypical. Alexa wants to show she’s not just a mechanic like her father, Keiko drives like it’s art, Marcus was an athlete, he beat them and now wants to be the fastest on wheels. The story mode gives you the incentive to play through everyone, with everyone having four different cars as well.
Outside of the normal racing modes, there’s a couple of novelty modes which work at varying levels of success. Cops and Robbers does what it says on the tin, with half the racers starting as cops and more and more people are eliminated until one non-cop racer is left. Driver Explodes pulls on the 1990s movie Speed, at every checkpoint you pass through you must stay above a certain speed limit or boom-boom. The aggressive AI in this second mode can make things a little less fun than playing with regular people would be, due to their nature.
Hotshot Racing’s presentation in how it introduces tracks, the menus, and the announcer are all on point. Although, I do wish there were more tracks, and even more complicated ones as well — it won’t take long for you to learn them all. That comes back to the single-player aspect of the game, once you’re done with the games Grand Prix mode — and it won’t take long — there’s not much for you if you’re just playing by your lonesome.
Before launch we struggled to find a single game online, and you need at least four people to start an online race. Hopefully that’s looked at because it would suck to not find a game at all even after release. There’s no cross-play so you’ll be left with Switch owners.
Hotshot Racing is a window back into the 1990s, not only in looks but how it plays with some old some fashioned rubber banding. The look and gameplay might not be for everyone, but it’s authentic and it’s a tonne of fun. I just wish there was more of it. You don’t need to be an arcade fan of old to enjoy this, but you’ll enjoy it even more if you are.
+ Silky smooth frame rate and polished presentation
+ Bit of Ridge Racer, a bit of Burnout & lots of SEGA arcade racing feel
+ Characters with personality
+ The game's soundtrack is terrific
- Not a lot to it once you beat the GP
- Needing four players to even start an online match is gonna be trouble
- Non-Racing modes are fun, but just a sideshow