Console-style racing throwback
Price: $2.99 / £2.29
Size: 228 MB
Developer: Aquiris Game Studio
Brand new iOS racing game Horizon Chase places itself as a vintage console-racer, and it’s not kidding. Its gameplay is rooted so firmly in the glory days of racing games that it places you right back in the mid-90s when road-racers were so prevalent that as a young child you found it remarkable that compacted groups of metal and burning rubber never found their way to your sleepy suburban street.
It’s roots are clear, from the dramatic tailspins, to the hustling of other drivers as they try to shield you from over-taking them, to the unlockable extra cars and powerups. Is there a nitro boost? Of course there’s a nitro boost. And you better use it, because the game is solid in its difficulty, too.
The premise is simple – compete in a series of cup races on various groups of courses. Take part in bonus cup races to unlock cars and progress steadily throughout the game. Unlock each track by coming third-place or higher, while other various distractions such as collecting extra fuel and power ups are present as well.
The game’s handling is surprisingly fluid, and super-easy to get the hang of – it’s pick-up-and-play at its best. The controls only feature acceleration and left or right turn. To take a corner properly, simply ease off the acceleration, though in reality its fairly easy to simply coast around corners, foot (or thumb) fully down on the pedal.
To say there’s attention to detail in these gameplay mechanics would be wrong – but then Horizon Chase isn’t that kind of game. You want to power through it, simply unlock more cars with higher speeds, because back in the days of SNES or Mega Drive racers, those consoles weren’t powerful enough to house any further intricacy.
As such, it’s amusing to think that some of these modern games that exist on a tiny portable device have to occasionally dumb themselves down to mirror that kind of classic gameplay that existed on giant boxes that would have cost almost a month’s rent (though let’s ignore that an iPhone might cost almost two months rent). Though, there are areas where Horizon Chase has modernized the genre.
Firstly, the graphics are crisp. Strong coloring also brightens up the whole thing, adding an extra level of exhilaration to the pace. Furthermore, tracks seem more hazardous. With more processing power comes more opportunity to throw rogue poles or rocks on the track. Hit one of them, or another vehicle and you’ll experience that classic “Gaagghhh!” moment as your first place falls instantly to eighth as you sputter to get going again.
Speaking of those pesky overtakers, another key development in the genre is some seriously advanced AI. In the form of sadistic opposition drivers that on your 100th attempt to try and place first, appear to drift and position themselves in front of you as you approach at all times, preventing you from passing. It’s an infuriating trait to the game, but it doesn’t stop us from replaying over and over – our need to get one up on these non-existent drivers reignited. In reality, this makes Horizon Chase no different to those old school games and their maliciously competitive AI systems, and when we look at it again, we realize that it’s one of the key reasons we used to love them, and now this, so much.
— TapSmart (@TapSmart) August 25, 2015
- Controls are stable and fluid
- Looks great
- Track design can get a bit samey