Hydro Thunder: Hurricane was developed by Vector Unit and published by Microsoft. The full game retails for 1200 Microsoft Points. The Tempest DLC pack retails for 400 Microsoft points. A copy of the DLC was provided to us for review purposes.
Back in August, we reviewed Hydro Thunder: Hurricane for XBLA and gave it a Try rating. This wasn’t to say the game suffered from significant flaws, but we questioned if the game could hold attention long enough to match its $15 value for the majority of players. Clearly it could, as two months later, the game’s online community is still thriving and Vector Unit has released their first piece of DLC.
The Tempest Pack for Hydro Thunder: Hurricane contains three brand new original maps (Atlantis, Castle Von Boom and Bermuda), two new, original Boats (the super agile Whiplash and the slip-slidery Psyclone), one new skin for every boat in the game, six X-Boats (upgraded to expert versions of current boats) and of course 50 additional Gamerscore.
The founders of Vector Unit are no strangers to game development. After working for several years at bigger companies, Ralf Knoesel and Matt Small decided it was time to form their own company with the goal of making “big games in small packages”. Games that felt like full retail experiences but were meant for downloadable services like Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network.
With their first title, Hydro Thunder Hurricane, that goal was achieved. With a small team of about 8 people and some art outsourcing, Vector Unit managed to create the sequel fans had been dreaming of for 10 years. This is an interview with Matt Small, co-founder and creative director at Vector Unit. He shares his views on the franchise, the upcoming DLC pack and the future.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane was developed by Vector Unit and published by Microsoft Game Studios for XBLA on July 28, 2010. It retails for 1200 Microsoft Points.
The original Hydro Thunder was a favorite in local arcades during the late 90s. The rush of boosting a fantastical speedboat through intense waters and hitting massive jumps struck a nerve in me that most other arcade games failed to do. For those with fond memories from the arcade excitement peaked when a new Hydro Thunder was announced for Xbox Live Arcade, developed by Vector Unit.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane, the first true sequel to the original arcade game, manages to reignite old love for the arcade original. When it comes to the basics, Vector Unit nailed the feel of the original, from the crazy courses down to the way the speedboats handle. Every speedboat that from the original is in HTH, and the inspired courses will evoke feelings of familiarity from Hydro Thunder veterans.
Of course, neat graphical touches remind us that the Hydro Thunder series has been improved quite a bit since the arcade days. Things like dynamic wave effects look awesome in high definition on XBLA, as do water droplets that form on the screen after a gnarly jump. Each boat now has a cool transforming animation once its boost is active. Seeing boats transform from their standard appearance to reveal massive exhaust pipes that spew fire provides a lovely and empowering feeling.