15th Sep2020

‘Hotshot Racing’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Phil Wheat

Billed as a “blisteringly fast arcade-style racing game that fuses classic drift handling with a bombastic soundtrack and pristine 90s polygonal visuals”, Hotshot Racing is a combination of a myriad of games that have come before it: Outrun, Daytona USA, Ridge Racer, even Virtua Racing… Only it never quite hits the mark of being in that pantheon of great arcade racers.

Don’t get me wrong, this IS an arcade racer, it just feels like developers Lucky Mountain Games and Sumo Digital have spent so much time trying to emulate that 90s racer experience they’ve forgotten what makes a game fun. Because Hotshot Racing is not fun. Not in the slightest. The aim of the game is, obviously, to win. However to do that you need to, on top of tweaing your cars with the credits you get in-game, chain drifts together to build up your reserves of nitrous so you can speed past the competition. And there’s the rub. Drifting.

Hotshot Racing features some of the worst drifting in an arcade racer I’ve experience in a long time…

I adored drifting in Outrun and its sequels, I made Split/Second my bitch when it came to drifting (in fact for me this was THE pinnacle of a great drift-game experiemnce). Hell, when I did have my Xbox One, I mastered drifting on Forza Horizon 3 AND 4. But here? This feels less like drifting and more like skidding all over the place wildy and trying your damdest not to crash into the sides of the track or other cars! Which totally ruined Hotshot Racing for me entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I stuck with it for this review but it was an immense chore to do so.

There are some positives to Hotshot Racing however. First off, there are a TON of vehicles to race in – each character in the game has a garage filled with four types of car, each one tuned to a different style of driving, including balanced driving, drifting, acceleration and speed. For those starting out I’d would REALLY recommend sticking to either a balanced car or a fast one – given that Hotshot Racing doesn’t feature an “easy” mode at all, so there’s no option to start on that mode and learn how to handle different cars and different styles of driving. And don’t get me started on the so-called “Expert” mode – they should have called that ridiculously over-the-top hard – as the difficulty level ramps up so much in that mode it makes the game even more frustrating.

In a throwback to arcade racers of old, you can also change the camera view in Hotshot Racing, including an in-car cam that really feels like you’re back playing the polygon racers of the early 90s, like Virtua Racing and Hard Drivin’. Only those games never ran at at constant 60 frames per second. A 60fps that actually makes it look and feel like your flying round the tracks at a high MPH when you hit that nitrous!

Unfortunatley the positives are still heavily outweighed by the negative that is the poor drifting experience. If you want a good arcade racer on the Switch honeslty I’d stick to Horizon Chase Turbo

Hotshot Racing is available on the Nintendo eShop now.

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