If you owned a Dreamcast and didn't love Hydro Thunder you are probably dead inside, or at least starting to rot. Back then arcade games were still cool and the sight of them running on home consoles was thrilling. Midway's water-based, turbo-charged racer was one of the best, boasting incredible graphics, breakneck speed and some of the biggest vertical drops in video game history. If you suffered from a fear of heights then the leaps of faith on offer were probably best avoided. Now, more than 10 years later, the speedboat racer has received an Xbox LIVE Arcade sequel.
Calling Hydro Thunder Hurricane a back to basics racer would be doing it a slight disservice, but it's certainly using the mould created by the classic arcade titles of the 90s. The single-player mode is divided into four categories: Race, Ring Master, Gauntlet and Championship.
Race is you against 15 others, all competing to get to the finish line first; Ring Master is a time trial in which rings litter the course, each one missed adding on time and resetting your boost; Gauntlet is just you against the clock, with the added problem of explosive barrels to avoid; and Championship is a collection of the other three event types bundled together into a series. I found Gauntlet to be a tad annoying after a while, but the others are great fun.
That's your lot, but each successful finish in an event or championship earns you credits, which in turn unlock new tacks, boats and events. Early on you'll breeze through, but later events require an awful lot of credits before they're made available, so you won't be unlocking all the content until you've invested a lot of time. Various difficulty modes add to the challenge, but you'll only feel truly in control once you've mastered the boost system.
Each of the water craft have their own attributes, making them feel different on the water, but it's the use of the boost that will separate the pros from the novices. A simple use of the turbo to zoom past opponents is one thing, but using it to help corner is a lot trickier, boosting in air to avoid walls is a neat trick, and boost jumping (which propels your boat into the air) lets you reach pick-ups and access secret areas.