Arcade racers aren’t really that common nowadays – probably because we don’t have arcades at the moment. (Damn it COVID!) But, fortunately, there are some developers out there that are trying to give us that classic “throwback” feeling, back in the days when we were more concerned about getting first place instead of getting a lofty update filled with racing stats.
Hotshot Racing is the latest attempt to bring back the “good ol’ days,” from the team at Lucky Mountain Games (with some help from Sumo Digital). It’s all about that old-school rush, with polygonal racing cars and models, and tracks that look like something out of the Virtua Racing school. It’s a little on the short side when it comes to content, but it has mileage to spare – perfect for a game of this nature.
Taking It For a Spin
You start the game by choosing your racing circuit, in this case from various Grand Prix championships. You’ll start at the beginning, where you can get accustomed to the control of your car, and also choose your driver of choice, who provides commentary throughout. At first, it can seem a little annoying, but it actually adds personality to each race, and you’ll soon develop favorites as you go on. They have back stories that provide a little more detail as well.
Then you get into the racing action itself, which is pretty good. The drift system does take a little bit of getting used to, as it’s far different from the drift-happy days of, say, Ridge Racer. But it’s a concise system, and one that can actually net you power as you continue. You’ll be able to use that for boosts, which are crucial when it comes to scoring a first place victory.
As you go on, the competition gets a bit tougher, with more aggressive AI that has no reservations when it comes to knocking you off the track. You’ll see some hints of this rage in the beginning, which may force a restart if you feel up to it.
There’s a lot to do outside of Grand Prix, though. There’s also a fun Cops and Robbers mode, where pursuit is the name of the game. We haven’t had this much fun with a mode like this since Need For Speed: Most Wanted. Also interesting is the Drive Or Explode mode, where you have to keep going fast or your car blows up. Hmmmm, sounds like a particular Keanu Reeves film out there. (No, not Constantine, you doofs.)
And then there’s multiplayer, jam packed with up to eight players. The best way to go with a game like this, however, is splitscreen. It’s great going up against friends in various modes and seeing what you can do in each circuit. There are other options as well, however, if you feel like competing a different way. Just be prepared for some real road hogs out there.
The Look’s The Thing
Another magical element to Hotshot Racing is how wonderful it looks. I mean, it’s simple compared to some of today’s other racers, but it’s a wondrous throwback to the 90’s style of design. The polygonal look of the cars and drivers is just about perfect, and there’s a hint of customization where you can make it feel more like your genuine ride. On top of that, it’s great to see various tracks in different locations, adding some variety to the proceedings. The track count overall is a bit on the short side, but, again, the game is loaded with replayability thanks to multiplayer options and modes.
The sound is good too, with cheesy rock music playing in the background and some good voiceovers by the characters, though some are better than others. The sound effects are good too, right out of the Daytona rulebook, it seems.
Get Ready To Race
Arcade racers don’t really come along too often anymore, so Hotshot Racing’s arrival is a gem. It’s reasonably priced at around $20; and though the track offering is on the limited side, there’s so much to dig into here when it comes to drifting arcade bliss, character selection, modes and multiplayer. You’ll have a ball – and then, like us, get on the phone and bug Sega about releasing another Sega Rally. We need our very long easy right, baby.
An arcade racer that checks out in every category, Hotshot Racing more than deserves your money.