Connect with us


Horizon Chase Turbo review

Now, bring me that horizon.



Horizon Chase Turbo review

Now, bring me that horizon.

In the dim, distant past, before 3D rendering became a mainstream technology, video games used something called sprite-scaling to indicate depth.  It’s the classic “these cows are small/these cows are far away” technique, of growing 2D sprites as they approach the player’s perspective to make them seem closer, and shrinking them as they retreat.

Used in everything from flight simulators (After Burner, Thunder Blade) to the earliest first-person shooters (Wolfenstein 3D, Doom), sprite-scaling was a technique developed by Sega on its mid-eighties Super Scaler arcade boards. Early games like Space Harrier and Hang-On brought a whole new experience of depth and speed to video games.


It was Out Run, though, that really captured players’ hearts. With its bright red drop-top Ferrari Testarossa, blistering speed, and gameplay based on The Cannonball Run, how could it not?

Horizon Chase Turbo, from Aquiris Game Studio, would dearly like to tap into this Out Run nostalgia and, for the most part, it succeeds.

Horizon Chase Turbo San Francisco

Gone are the two-dimensional sprites; replaced instead with three-dimensional assets. Horizon Chase Turbo’s graphics are rendered in a crisp, faceted, low-poly style. This communicates a retro sensibility, without going whole-hog for the vintage, sprite-scaled technology that powered Sega’s arcade classics.

In short, it means those trees and rocks and road signs are actually whipping towards you in three dimensions. Because of the game’s snappy design – including the classic, horizontally-striped ground textures of Out Run and Hang-On – you get the feel and impression of those retro mechanics, with none of the jolts and quirks associated with sprite-scaling. It’s a neat trick, blending the old into the new, and one that feels like a comfy pair of slippers to an old Sega aficionado.


Following a similar theme, while Horizon Chase Turbo’s upbeat, electro soundtrack (from composer Barry Leitch) is thumping, I’d wager it’s been produced with modern synths rather than the authentic, chiptune sound of its forebears.

Again, that’s not a complaint. Everything here is an excellent, sympathetic modernisation. But it’s in the game’s modern sensibilities that Horizon Chase Turbo really starts to diverge down a different road to Out Run.

For one thing, Horizon Chase Turbo is split into races. With laps and everything! Gone is the endless drift into the skyline from Out Run, mimicking The Cannonball Run’s madcap dash from Connecticut to California. In its place are short, rhythmic races, around ovals, tracks and circuits.

Horizon Chase Turbo world tour

These races are then split by location, making up the game’s career mode of sorts; a world tour. Win enough races in one locale, and you’ll get to move on to the next. It’s fairly standard fare, but it’s here where Horizon Chase Turbo’s origins – as a mobile game, originally known as Horizon Chase – World Tour but repackaged as ‘Turbo’ for the PS4, PC, Xbox One and Switch release  start to show through.

It’s not simply enough to finish in the top three for each race, even though that is enough to unlock the next race within each locale. You need to score enough points – a combination of finishing position, items collected, and fuel remaining at the end of each race – to unlock the next set of races. It’s reminiscent of the one-to-three star scoring system in so many mobile puzzle games, and will regularly see players going back to retry earlier races to get enough chits to unlock more cars and move forward to new stages.


And all I wanted to do was keep driving into the horizon, through the traffic and the shifting landscapes, for as long as I could keep up.

But there was the promise of an additional game mode, temptingly named ‘Endurance’, that made me think my Out Run dreams may still yet come true. Sadly, it was not to be. Endurance mode simply challenges you with entering race after race, and if at any point you finish outside the top three? Your challenge is over.

There’s plenty to like about Horizon Chase Turbo, and given its short courses and mobile origins, it’s a great bitesize game to play in small chunks in the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode. It’s just a shame that a lot of what is in there feels repetitive; especially when the game asks you to go back and retread it.

Horizon Chase Turbo


Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Aquiris Game Studio
Publisher: Aquiris Game Studio
Release Date: Out now

Horizon Chase Turbo is a slick, polished, pulsating love-letter to the arcade racing games of yesteryear. It’s just a shame that in a genre known best for what felt like endless rolling roads, what’s on offer here – thanks to its transition to tracks and unlock-to-progress mechanics – feels rather more repetitive in comparison.

Want more neat stuff?

If you want to keep abreast of the latest news, features, reviews, guides, and sales, we can send all our latest articles and great content straight to your inbox. You know, collated together, once or twice a week, in a newsletter. We wouldn't send them one at a time – that would be weird and annoying!

Recommended for you

Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.


Latest from Thumbsticks

Deltarune logo Deltarune logo
News8 hours ago

Deltarune Chapter 2 release date revealed by Toby Fox

Deltarune Chapter 2 is almost upon us. We don't need to tell you to "please be excited" for this one.

Tux and Fanny video game Tux and Fanny video game
Features11 hours ago

Surreal web cartoon Tux and Fanny makes for a sublime video game

In one day I went from not knowing a thing about Tux and Fanny to proclaiming it the best video...

Battlefield 2042 key art Battlefield 2042 key art
News16 hours ago

Battlefield 2042 release date bumped to November

Electronic Arts has confirmed that the upcoming military shooter Battlefield 2042 will be released one month later than planned. EA says...

Age of Empires IV key art Age of Empires IV key art
News1 day ago

The developers want you to break Age of Empires IV this weekend

After a number of balloted tests, the floodgates will open for a limited-time, unrestricted stress test for Age of Empires...

Playstation Store Double Discounts Sale Playstation Store Double Discounts Sale
News1 day ago

The PlayStation Store Double Discounts sale returns

PS Plus members get double discounts on PS4 and PS5 games in the latest PlayStation Store video game sale.

Nintendo Switch Bluetooth Nintendo Switch Bluetooth
News2 days ago

Latest Nintendo Switch update adds support for Bluetooth headphones

It's taken a long time, but you can now use your Bluetooth headphones with your Nintendo Switch.

SkateBIRD keyart - Xbox Game Pass SkateBIRD keyart - Xbox Game Pass
News2 days ago

More super games join Xbox Game Pass from today

SkateBird, Sable, and Subnautica: Below Zero are among the games coming to Xbox Game Pass before the end of September 2021.

Xbox - Halo: The Master Chief Collection Xbox - Halo: The Master Chief Collection
News2 days ago

Save on next-gen optimised games in this week’s new Xbox sales

This week's digital sales include discounts on Xbox Game Studios titles and Xbox Series X|S optimised releases.