Letting the Horizon Chase Me in ‘Horizon Chase’

I rarely chase the horizon, because that’s just absurd. More often than not, I let the horizon do the chasing.

Anyhow, for those even remotely familiar of the history of racing games, you will instantly recognize Aquiris’ Horizon Chase pays sincere homage to the 1986 classic OutRun.

Even so, Aquiris is not the first to re-enact the legendary feat of the ultimate predecessor. Oyatsukai‘s 2010 release, ‘Final Freeway’ and its sequel sibling ‘Final Freeway 2R’ also made their respective efforts to haul the classic racing experience back to the gaming community that was more acquainted with evolved racers like the ‘Need For Speed’ and ‘Real Racing’ series.

But, but, and but, Horizon Chase is quite the hallmark of fine racing games. Everything below will legitimize precisely why.

Sunny California
Sunny California

The difficulty is unrelenting even from the very first cup but players will learn to forget it due to the sheer combination of stylish map design and palatable music. The game also brings Japanese reductionism into play, with car models looking acutely minimalist (but bearing sharp similarities to real car models) and map elements like terrain and backdrop resonating the uninterruptedly simple pizzazz.

Even with aesthetics aside, the controls (you can select various control layouts from the option menu to your liking) are incredibly responsive that will guarantee “clean” racing episodes after another.

Everyone has their classy moments.
Everyone has their classy moments.

Another thing well realized is the very feel of speed. Although OutRun had already done a commendable job in establishing this aspect of the game, the choppy, crudely pixelated graphics prevalent at the time did not fuse necessarily well with the smooth notion of speed. Of course, we must keep in mind that today we are equipped with better technology and by no means do I wish to debase this style. I’m simply grateful that Aquiris had decided to maintain the skeletal structure of gameplay mechanics from OutRun and applied fresh meat onto the existing frame with fundamentally improved graphics and sound.

Coming in first is astonishingly grueling and equally gratifying
Coming in first is astonishingly grueling and equally gratifying

Sound in Horizon Chase is an independent feature altogether. The music isn’t too arcady or overly retro but manages to fit between the two. As a result, some players were put off that the tunes were overlapping and lacking distinct colour. Although I take side with the disappointed to an extent, to my way of thinking, I see the soundtrack being evidence of the gap between retro and modern gaming, now bridged together.

Choose wisely.

Gameplay-wise, arcade elements such as coins and fuel are introduced within the game, and I was personally content the game did not have any items or perks famously found in kart-racing games. This meant players would have to carefully consider the ramifications of choosing a certain upgrade or deciding to use a particular car. For instance, a speedy car with impaired handling and fuel efficiency in a race that would have long, narrow tracks, and violent curves will leave you battered on the tarmac.

Playing rally with Muscles.
Playing rally with Muscles.

The arcade components, seemingly retro, are in point of fact, fairly modern spontaneously. The fuel drops are reminiscent of Kemco’s Top Gear released back in 1992 for the Super NES, but the coin system is especially catered for those familiar of the level unlock system based on earned points prevalent in iOS games like Candy Crush.

Horizon Chase is anything but a flamboyant addition to the racing genre – it delivers the meticulously detailed features in a package of starkly simple visual presentation. Besides, there is nothing more immensely appealing than having to know that cars, having their own specific stats, even have distinct engine sounds.


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