With all the easy access to emulators and even just out right re-releases, I often assume that everyone (young and old) has played the classics, which I consider anything 20-years old or order. But you know, that’s just not true. There are a ton of (old) games people haven’t played, just like there are a ton of new games I haven’t played. Yet ever so often there is a game that is a throwback to a classic but can stand on its own without the reference. Horizon Chase is one of those games.
When I think about titles like Pole Position, Rad Racer and Out-Run, I have memories of arcade steering wheels, chunky shift knobs and exotic cars. I also think about the essence of driving…going fast and not crashing. All of those vintage titles were essentially the same with only slight variations between them (and better graphics). Horizon Chase hits the sweet spot between homage and modern fun.
In Horizon Chase you drive along courses trying to get 1st place. Along the way you earn points that can unlock new cars and earn upgrades. Simple as that. Driving is as simple as left/right and the only other control you need to worry about is the gas pedal…cause there ain’t no brakes! Throw in a little nitro boost for good measure and you’re set.
You’ll go around the map picking race locations, having to meet certain win criteria to unlock the next city and bonus rounds. Like I said, it’s very straight forward and that’s a great thing to see among an ever-increasing world of complex games with too many options. Horizon Chase gives you options but they can’t be called customizations. You won’t tweak horsepower or suspension here. You’ll pick RC Pro-Am-like upgrades such “better steering” or “longer boost.”
The challenge of Horizon Chase is the obvious and classic…try to win. You’ll speed along arcade landscapes with blind corners and hills, letting off the gas to quasi-drift around a corner without crashing into the objects that sit along the side of the road. And when it comes to crashes, don’t expect bent metal or body parts…in fact, don’t even expect the game to stop. If you hit an obstacle, your car spins out. If you hit another car, you slow down while they get bumped ahead. The only physics that exist here are arcade physics, and it’s wonderful.
Reunite with some old friends
The is a good list of cars to unlock in Horizon Chase, many of which will look familiar. There are no licenses here so you won’t see the name “Lamborghini” or “Ferrari” but you’ll know them when you see them. And what would any arcade racing game be without starting you off the in the defacto curiser, The Ferrari F40?
You might think replay value here is a little limited, and it may be eventually, but it’ll take some stamina to ace all the tracks to move on. So far, Horizon Chase seems to have a good reward balance, meaning you’ll unlock cars just when you need the extra muscle. But it’s not so easy that you can simply cruise by getting 3rd place all the time. You’ll have to go back to old locations and get 1st if you really want to earn your way. Like any other classic game, you get better my repetition, not by save points or buying your way out. There are no in-app purchases, so your $2.99 is well spent…and frankly, that’s a deal. I would have paid even $5 for this title and would not have been disappointed.
I’m also happy that Horizon Chase didn’t go with a pixelated 16-bit style (or any lesser bits). It would have been easy to go that route or the ultra-real but they found a balance between. The experience looks retro enough without rehashing it. It’s a great style and look that is retro enough to keep the old farts like me happy while still being smooth enough for a younger player.
All in all, Horizon Chase is a stellar game with few negatives. I guess there’s a reason it has the Editor’s Choice label in the App Store. But this is a case where that’s not BS at all.
…now, if someone would just make a Road Rash homage game like this, life would be complete.