One of the latest XBox Live games to hit the Windows Phone Marketplace is Hydro Thunder Go from PixelBite. The racing game has sentimental value to me in that I can remember playing it in arcades and eagerly waiting for its release on the Nintendo 64 platform over a decade ago.
It has since been released in some shape, form or fashion on multiple gaming systems and has now landed on your Windows Phone. It's a pricey game but if you like racing games, especially boat racing games, it's well worth the price of admission.
We've spent some time with the PixelBite developers and after the break you can find out more on Hydro Thunder Go.
Game Lay Out
Hydro Thunder Go is laid out much like all the other Hydro Thunder games that have come before it. From the main menu, you have game modes for Race (racing against other boats), Time Attack (racing against the clock) and Hydro Blaze.
Hydro Blaze is a bonus mode that is reached when you collect 12,000 credits (takes about thirty minutes of game play). It's an endless race that has you navigating on a narrow track that is full of obstacles and jumps. The goal is to see how far you can make it before falling off the track.
You also have access to the online Xbox Live leaderboards, achievements and the Help & Options Menu.
The Help and Options Menu covers game help/directions, sound options, and control options. The game has three control layouts,
Tilt/Throttle: This is where you tilt the Windows Phone to steer and you have an on-screen throttle lever to control your speed and boost.
Tilt/Buttons: Steering is done by tilting your Windows Phone and throttle control is accomplished by tapping/holding a propeller icon. As long as you hold the propeller icon down, the boat speeds up. Release your hold and the boat stops.
Wheel/Throttle: Here you have a virtual steering wheel that you will use to steer the boat. The throttle is controlled by an on-screen level.
Additional control settings include steering wheel sensitivity, camera tilt, flip controls (default has the throttle controls to the right), and calibration of the Windows Phone sensors (for tilt steering).
Personally, I like the Tilt/Throttle option. The tilt steering seemed to be a little more responsive than the wheel and I can crank up the throttle to full and concentrate on steering.
Choosing your game
Once you choose your game mode, you then get to choose your course and boat. You have nine racing venues ranging from Treasure Island to Transylvania. Courses are progressive in that you have to earn a certain level of credits (earned by race placements) to unlock additional courses.
Hydro Thunder Go has twelve boats to choose from that vary in abilities (speed, handling, acceleration and air control) and as with the courses, the boats are progressive, requiring you to earn a certain level of credits or achievements to unlock additional boats. You've got a wide assortment of traditional race boats along with some unique racing craft. Want to race the Titanic? Earn a medal in every racing venue. How about a giant rubber duck?
From the graphics to the controls (tilt/throttle is the way to go), Hydro Thunder Go was a very enjoyable game to play. It lacks the experience playing Hydro Thunder on a wide screen television but it's not too shabby on the small screen. You'll catch yourself leaning into the turns, rocking backwards a little as you hit the turbo boost, and clinch your teeth as you jump off waterfalls.
There's enough competition with the game to keep you interested without causing frustration from never doing well in a race. The game is very impressive with the amount of detail that is in the graphics. From the wave action to the Whale's breaking the surface of the water, Hydro Thunder is well presented.
Oh.. one new feature that I don't remember from the Xbox arcade version is jumping. Once you've activated the boost feature, you can swipe up on the screen to jump your boat. This comes in handy to leap over obstacles, through portals for short-cuts, and avoiding waves that could knock you off course.
To get the most out of the gaming experience, play it with your earphones plugged in. The stereo sound helps get you in that racing mode and gives the game a really good feel.
Hydro Thunder Go is strong enough of a game that it can stand on it's own. The Xbox Live connection is just an added bonus to the game.
While your achievements and scores are shared amongst your Xbox Live friends, you can also download Time Attack ghosts from your Xbox Live friends to race against. It's not exactly multi-player racing but it's close.
Hydro Thunder Go is a home run as far as Windows Phone games are concerned. If you like racing games, it is a must have for your gaming library. If you don't like racing games, the trial version is a must have in that it will likely change your opinion on racing games.
I honestly can't say anything critically negative about Hydro Thunder Go. Some may squabble over the $4.99 price tag but it is worth every penny. You can find the full version and trial version here at the Marketplace.